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This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks


Lining up a Contract

Kelly Johnson avoided arbitration with the Diamondbacks, settling a good distance above the midpoint of what was asked and what was offered.  This was a huge change from last season, when the Braves let him go and the DBacks signed him as a free agent.  What changed from 2009 was Kelly's ability to hit line drives.  In 2009, he could not make solid contact with balls in the heart of the strike zone:

Kelly Johnson line drives, 2009.This is more of an ice map than a heat map. Of the 256 balls he put in play that season, only 37 were classified as line drives, 14.4%.  He posted a .784 BA on those drives, but that wasn't enough to make a dent in his low batting average.

In 2010, he lit up the strike zone much more:

Kelly Johnson line drives, 2010Once again, Johnson posted a high BA on his liners, .787, but this time 95 of his 440 balls in play were hit on the nose, good for 21.6% of his balls in play.  Better contact in the zone led to a .224/.303/.389 slash line rising to a .284/.370/.496 set of averages, and a big raise from the Diamondbacks.

(Note that his hotter zones within the strike zone are the same as in 2009, just with better results.  It looks like his approach didn't change, which suggests his wrist injury took a toll on his swing.)


Brett Gardner's Discipline

Last year, Brett Gardner ranked in the top 91 9% of all players in OBP, and the top 93% 7% in BB%. I thought it was worth taking a quick look at his plate discipline since 2008.

Brett Gardner

Gardner's .310 OBP between 2008-09 (426 PA) jumped to .375 last year. From the looks of the graphic above, he seems to be swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone.


Jimmy Rollins' Regression

In his recent blog post, Buster Olney cites some of the topics of interest in each spring training camp this year. For the Phillies, he notes Jimmy Rollins’ "three season regression." Indeed, Rollins has yet to duplicate his 2007 MVP season numbers in which he hit .296/.344/.531 with a league leading 20 triples and a career high 30 home runs.

One of the problems contributing to Rollins’ troubles has been a noticeable decline in his ability to hit from the left side.

Jimmy Rollins vs. RHP

Rollins generates most of his power on pitches inside when batting left handed. Over the past 3 years, that power has faded.

Jimmy Rollins

Compare the graphic above to his overall in play rates over the same time.

Jimmy Rollins

Rollins puts more balls in play on outside pitches, an area he normally does not produce extra base hits.

It doesn’t help that Rollins prefers to swing at pitches outside either.

Jimmy Rollins Swinging

So as a LHB, Rollins is swinging more at outside pitches which is dragging down his overall numbers. In the selected zone above, Rollins put up a .295 wOBA despite making contact 91.5% of the time. Until he can prove that he can do some damage on pitches outside, right-handed pitchers will have little incentive to pitch him anywhere else.