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Figuring Figgins

Chone Figgins saw a huge falloff in his averages in 2010.  For his career through 2009, Chone showed himself to be a much better hitter against right-handed pitchers than lefties, with a BA 36 points higher and a slugging percentage 53 points higher.  In 2010, those number reversed, as he fit fine against lefties but posted a .247/.329/.288 slash line against righties.

There doesn't seem to be a good reason for the falloff, as Figgins was hitting poorly on pitches in the middle of the strike zone.  In 2008 and 2009 combined, you can see where Figgins was hot against righties:

Chone Figgins versus right-handed pitchers, 2008-2009.Note that he does well on pitches down and in and up and away, but hits very well on pitches in the middle.  That middle went cold in 2010.

Chone Figgins versus right-handed pitchers, 2010.If the pitch wasn't on the inside edge of the plate in the strike zone, Chone didn't do much with it.  It's not clear why this happened.  As in the previous two seasons, RHP worked Chone away and a bit up.  So his hottest zone in 2010 landed where pitchers throw him the least number of pitches.  They also threw mostly fastballs to him.

Figgins went through two upheavals in 2010, changing teams and moving positions.  It could just be that the combination caused his concentration to be off.  He hit lefties fine, so I suspect Chone will bounce back in 2011.


Carlos Silva Fighting to make Cubs Rotation 

Gordon Wittenmyer at the Chicago Sun-Times writes today about Carlos Silva’s confidence that he’ll be in the Cubs starting rotation come April. As noted in the article, Silva had a great start to the season, going 9-2 with a 2.96 ERA through 16 starts. However, he fell apart after that, finishing with a 10-6 record and a 4.22 ERA on the season.

Here’s a quick look at Silva’s numbers through those first 16 starts, and what happened in the brief set of starts that followed:
Carlos Silva
4/1/2010 - 7/6/20101468.242.280.372.292
7/11/2010 - 9/30/2010273.460.507.683.516

4/1/2010 - 7/6/20103.9%17.2%82.4%14.4%.269
7/11/2010 - 9/30/201011.0%13.7%86.0%27.7%.291

Silva battled a number of injuries last year, not to mention an irregular heartbeat discovered during a game with the Colorado Rockies in early August. The 31-year old veteran has a career ERA+ of 93, with his best season in 2005 with a 130 ERA+. The Cubs can’t rely on Silva duplicating his first half of 2010. However, should he stay healthy, he still might be a decent back of the rotation starter in 2011.

Twins and Young Agree to Deal

Delmon young avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.375 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. Was this a good deal for the Twins?

Young was the 4th most valuable hitter on the Twins last year in terms of weighted on-base average, 2nd most valuable behind Joe Mauer if you leave Justin Morneau and Jim Thome off the list for only having 340 PA each. Young also hit .318/.370/.582 versus lefties last year which put him in the 92nd percentile in all of baseball.

Young’s biggest issue is his proclivity to swing at nearly every pitch. He ranked in the top 1% of all players in swing percentage last season, among company like Jeff Francoeur and Vladimir Guerrero. He still managed a .333 OBP that, while not great, still ranked in the top half of the majors last season among all players with at least 300 PA. However, with only a 4.5% walk rate (19th worst in all of baseball last year), that OBP is likely not going to improve unless Young starts taking pitches more.

At age 25, it’s not too late for him to make some significant changes to his approach at the plate. Should he become even just a little more selective this year, that $5.375 million could turn out to be a steal for the Twins.