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Entries in 2011's Best (1)

Monday
Jul252011

2011's Best, Worst Breaking Ball Hitters

Which major league hitters wreak havoc against breaking pitches, and which just plain reek? To answer that question, let's look at the batters with the best and worst Weighted On Base Averages (wOBA) versus curveballs and sliders this season.

First, here are hitters whose eyes light up whenever a pitcher tosses them something that bends:

 Top 10 MLB hitters versus sliders and curves, by wOBA

  1. Casey Kotchman, .453
  2. Jose Bautista, .436
  3. Matt Downs, .431
  4. Allen Craig, .425
  5. Carlos Peguero, .420
  6. Brennan Boesch, .414
  7. Chris Snyder, .399
  8. Miguel Cabrera, .399
  9. Jhonny Peralta, .396
  10. Alexi Ramirez, .392

 A few notes:

  • Kotchman has a .543 batting average on balls in play versus curves and sliders this season. His average since 2008 is .301, and the league average for lefty hitters is .292. Something's gotta give here.
  • What can pitchers throw to Bautista? He ranks just outside the top 10 in wOBA versus fastballs, and places in the top five against changeups.
  • Three Tigers appear on this list: Boesch, Cabrera and Peralta.

Now, here are the hitters whose knees turn to jelly against breaking stuff:

Bottom 10 MLB hitters versus sliders and curves, by wOBA

  1. Bill Hall, .064
  2. Tony Campana, .067
  3. Daric Barton, .100
  4. Brent Lillibridge, .107
  5. Chase d'Arnaud, .113
  6. J.R. Towles, .126
  7. Xavier Paul, .135
  8. Nate McLouth, .139
  9. Matt Tolbert, .139
  10. Rafael Furcal, .141
  • Hall was kicked to the curb by the Astros, Barton, Towles and Tolbert are back in the minors, and Paul was waived by the Dodgers. When opposing teams figure out you're a Pedro Cerrano clone, your stay in the clubhouse is short.
  • Between DL stints for a broken thumb and a strained oblique, Furcal has hit a ground ball 73 percent of the time that he has swung at a curve or a slider. He doesn't have an extra-base hit against a breaking ball, which is a big reason why he's slugging .221.