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Raising Cain

The Royals acquired Lornezo Cain from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade.  Cain enjoyed a breakout year in 2010.  He posted a slash line of .317/.402/.432 in the minors.  Lornezo continued his hot hitting after his call up with a .306/.348/.415 line in 158 plate appearances.  At 24, he was an older rookie, but sometimes when players come up at that age, they are really ready to hit.

Cain, however, hit backwards.  Pitchers went after him in the strike zone:

Pitchers worked Lorenzo Cain right over the heart of the plate.Cain experienced his best results hitting on the edges of the zone:

Cain hit for his highest averages with pitches on the edges of the strike zone.I'm not sure if this is good or bad.  If a player can't cream a ball right down the middle of the plate, there won't be any reason for pitchers to go near the edges.  Given the low frequency of pitches in areas where he hit well, it seems his high average may be more the result of luck than skill.  I suspect pitchers will go after him down the pipe until he proves he can hit pitches in what should be his wheel house.


Stubbs vs. Sliders

Drew Stubbs was one of the best slider hitters in the game last season.  In fact, he absolutely crushed the pitch, hitting .378/.419/.745 with 6 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 HRs in 105 plate appearances decided by a slider. 

His entire slash line against sliders ranked in the top 99th percentile in the league, and his wOBA of .488 was the best in all of baseball.  In fact, it was 51 points better then the next guy on the list, Hideki Matsui, and 206 points better than league average.

It's like a hurricane of pain for opposing pitchers....


Feliz to Start

The Rangers are apparently going to give Neftali Feliz a chance to start in Spring Training.  As dominant as he's been in the  closer role, his success as a starter will largely be determined by the effectiveness of his secondary pitches.  Last year, Feliz relied on his fastball 83% of the time.  Obviously, he will have to adjust his approach as you can't get by throwing that many fastballs in a starting role.

Feliz throws a curveball (often mistaken for a slider) and a changeup.  His K-Rate on his secondary pitches was around 40.4% last year, which put him into the 92nd percentile for all soft pitches thrown in the majors in 2010.  And his contact rate of 61.7% put him in the top 87th percentile.

Of course, he only threw his secondary pitches 17% of the time last year, making it more difficult for batters to identify and adjust to them in brief stints.  It will be interesting to see how Feliz changes his approach as a starter, and how effective those secondary pitches can be when utilized more often.