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Power Against Power

The Tim Lincecum match-up against Josh Hamilton should provide intense competition during the World Series.  Josh is a superb power hitting left-hander, and there are few places a pitcher can avoid the big hits:

Josh Hamilton slugging against RHP, 2010.As you can see, Josh covers the plate very well, with only the lower outside corner a truly cold zone.  Lincecum needs to keep the ball away from Josh:

Tim Lincecum pitch frequency against LHB, 2010.Note that even though Tim stays out of Hamilton's dark red zones, he does keep the ball up.  That's when Josh likes it on the outer half of the plate.  A key for The Freak in this matchup will be to get the ball down and outside.


Limiting Howard

Ryan Howard, on the surface, played well in the NLCS.  He posted a .318/.400/.500 slash line, great over any length of season.  He failed to drive in a run however, and only scored one.  Despite slugging .500, the Giants did limit his power.

Howard hits to all fields, and he really likes the ball up.

Ryan Howard slugging, 2010 regular season.Howard hits to all fields, but if you want to reduce his power, the lower outside corner is the place to go.  That's what the Giants did:

Ryan Howard, Pitch Frequency, 2010 NLCSTo his credit, Ryan was able to smack a few of these pitches for doubles:

Ryan Howard slugging, 2010 NLCS.The Giants kept him from pulling the ball, and that kept the ball in the park.  Ryan was not able to deliver the big home run, and that contributed to the Phillies losing three games by one run.


Derek Jeter's Forgettable 2010

2010 saw a noticeable drop in Derek Jeter’s offensive production.  In 2009, Jeter hit .334/.406/.465, with 212 hits, 18 HR, 72 walks, and 90 strikeouts.  This year: .270/.340/.370, with 179 hits, 10 HR, 63 walks, and 106 strikeouts.  His wOBA dropped 67 points, from .390 to .323.  He also saw a drop in his line drive rate, 19.5% to 14.8%, accompanied by BAbip nearly 50 points below his career average.

The most obvious problem was the drop in power for Jeter this season.  His SLG% fell nearly 100 points from 2009.  Jeter does most of his damage out and over the upper half of the plate, where he can extend his bat and go the other way with the pitch.

Derek Jeter 2009 In Play SLG% VS. 2010 In Play SLG%

As you can see from the heat maps, Jeter did far less damage in his happy zone in 2010.  Also note how his power faded in the middle-in and middle-down areas of the zone as well.

Take a look at how pitchers threw to him this year as compared to last.

Derek Jeter 2009 Pitch Frequency vs. 2010 Pitch FrequencyThere’s a slight decrease in pitches thrown to Jeter in the top portion of the zone, as well as more pitches inside in 2010.  I’m not sure if this can account for some of his troubles this year, but perhaps teams were increasingly pitching Jeter inside in order to limit his “Jeterian” swing.  If he’s experiencing a decline in bat speed, this would obviously contribute to his problems in getting around on inside pitches.

It’s no secret that Jeter has a tendency to swing early in counts, especially at the first pitch.  This season was no different.  In 2009, Jeter had 87 first pitch swings in 716 PA.  In 2010, 97 first pitch swings in 739 PA.  Unfortunately, his first pitch swings in 2010 were not nearly as successful.

Derek Jeter 2009 First Pitch Swinging VS. 2010But Jeter’s biggest problem in 2010 was right handed pitchers.  In 2009, Jeter hit .311/.381/.435 against RHP, nearly identical to his career line against righties (.307/.377/ .437).  This year he hit .246/.315/.317.

Derek Jeter facing RHP 2009 VS. 2010That’s a severe dropoff, to say the least.  As the Yankees look to resign Jeter this offseason, I doubt this one down year will affect negotiations much.  However, while it is reasonable to expect a bounce back year from Jeter in 2011, 2010 is probably a sign of what is waiting towards the end of his next contract.