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Entries in adrian beltre (12)

Wednesday
Feb262014

Prince Fielder Losing His Edge Against Righties

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is preparing well in advance for his team's opening day series against Philadelphia, telling Drew Davidson of the Star-Telegram last week that he "already has a set lineup." According to the report, Washington's batting order will look similar to this: Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios, Mitch Moreland, Geovany Soto, Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin. If anything looks a bit out of place in his batting order, it undoubtedly is the placement of Fielder in the No. 3 hole -- a position that has occupied just 12% of his plate appearances to this juncture of this career compared to the 80% that have transpired out of the cleanup spot with Milwaukee and Detroit.

“Hitting in front of Beltre — that’s not a bad thing,” Fielder told Davidson. “That’s fine with me. I don’t have any problems with it. I’m excited. The top two guys [Choo and Andrus] have speed, and they can hit as well. I think it’s going to set the table for the rest of us, which is going to be a lot of fun.”

While I can say that hitting in front of Beltre will at least somewhat help Fielder's cause this season, and a hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark to boot, his offensive regressions last season are concerning. Posting a .279/.362/.457 line and 120 OPS+ that are each well below his career .286/.389/.527 and 141 OPS+ marks, Fielder took significant steps back with the Tigers in 2013, mainly when we see his .071 point decrease in slugging percentage from 2012 to last season. Where did Fielder's power go last season? We need not look further then his lefty-righty platoon splits.

Comparing Fielder's results and averages versus LHP

Against same-handed (lefty) pitching last season, Fielder took steps forward in several respects compared to his numbers from 2008 through 2012, including (but not limited to) batting average, OPS and HR/FB rate even though he wasn't able to place better contact against those pitchers (.217 WHAV last season compared to .256 prior). Now let's see his splits versus righties...

Comparing Fielder's results and averages versus RHP

Fielder's success rate against right-handed pitchers went in the opposite direction last season, however. A .302 hitter from 2008-'12, Fielder's average dropped to .271 against them last season and his OPS plummeted by nearly .200 points. His HR/FB rate was essentially cut in half to a career-low 13.2% last season and his WHAV against righties dropped in similar fashion to that against lefties. Now that we understand the primary reason behind Fielder's drop-off last season, we need to figure out what contributed to his relapse.

Fielder's in-play rate vs. RHP relative to pitch location, 2012

Fielder's in-play rate vs. RHP relative to pitch location, 2013

As we can see, Fielder's in-play rates against right-handed pitchers have fluctuated significantly with respect to pitch location. In 2012, the majority of the offerings he put in play were located low-and-away, evidenced by a 51.3% in play rate to the lower and outer portion of the strike zone. Last season, however, his strength in that regard turned into a weakness, posting a 44% in play rate in that region of the zone. Conversely, the biggest chunk of Fielder's in-plays last season were in the upper-and-inner location of the zone.

So Fielder is putting different balls in play. Who cares, right? Wrong. The fact that Fielder is putting significantly fewer low-and-away pitches in play is particularly concerning because opposing right-handers are attacking this area of the zone more often, locating 39% of their pitches to this region of the zone last season compared to 36% in 2012 (and 33% in 2011). Now that right-handers are recognizing and attacking this weakness, it may only get worse if left unaddressed this spring.

Sunday
Aug042013

July Stats from the Bill Chuck Files

In honor of the July 8 game in which the Mets beat the Giants 4-3 in 16 innings, the longest game in July, here are 16 stats for your dining consumption. 

  1. Tim Lincecum and Stephen Strasburg led the majors whiffing 44 in July but each were 1-3 on the month.
  2. The AL hit 380 homers, the NL hit 312 in July.
  3. Lucas Harrell walked 20 batters in 20.1 July IP.
  4. The Yankees hit 10 homers in July, the fewest in the AL. It was the Yanks fewest July homers since they hit eight in 1919.
  5. Greg Holland led the majors with 11 saves in July.
  6. There were 24 complete games in July with 12 in each league, seven by the Rays.
  7. In 13 scoreless innings in July, Tyler Clippard allowed two hits and held opponents to a .049 BAA.
  8. Blue Jays pitchers allowed 37 homers in July, the Marlins gave up just 11.
  9. Hiroki Kuroda made five starts in July. In 33 IP he allowed two runs (0.55 ERA).
  10. In July, with runners in scoring position, from the 7th inning on, the Braves hit .373, the Orioles hit .078.
  11. Before he was traded, Ian Kennedy threw 194 pitches for Arizona in July, the most in baseball.
  12. The Red Sox were hit by 15 pitches in July, the most in the majors.
  13. Derek Holland’s 30 swing and misses were the most in baseball in July.
  14. The Brewers led the majors with 35 steals in July; the Orioles had only two steals.
  15. Jerome Williams allowed 29 runs the most in July, he was followed by Josh Johnson and CC Sabathia with 27.
  16. In July, Adrian Beltre hit .516 (16-31) from the 7th inning on.

 

Monday
Jun242013

Peter Gammons: Success after Safeco

The day after Dustin Ackley was shipped out to Tacoma, one American League East general manager called the Mariners’ Jack Zduriencik to see if Seattle would be willing to move the 25-year old once drafted one slot after Stephen Strasburg. “I still believe in the bat,” said the GM. “I don’t know how we’d use him. Maybe first, second, left, center…But I still believe he’s a .300 hitter who could hit 50 doubles.”

As it turned out, that wasn’t the only Ackley call Zduriencik fielded the first couple of days after the demotion. “I also believe in Dustin Ackley,” said Zduriencik. “He can still be a major part of our rebuilding.” Two weeks later, Tacoma manager John Stearns told his GM, “this guy is a .300 hitter who’s going to hit doubles and steal bases. He’s really good.”

After 24 games in Triple-A, Ackley was hitting .366. He was getting on base at a .467 clip. He was slugging .495. "I feel right again,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I made some changes in my approach before spring training. Maybe that didn’t take. But I’ve been healthy (after the removal of bone spur in each ankle this past winter). It isn’t the move to second base; that was fine. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like myself again.”

Dustin Ackley (Seattle Mariners)

Safeco is still a pitcher's park

Zduriencik thinks that while they moved some of the fences in, Safeco is still a pitchers’ park, a death sentence for hitters. Adrian Beltre was spooked at Safeco. Jesus Montero has disappeared back to Tacoma. Ditto Justin Smoak. “I’m a great believer in getting hold of someone who has struggled in Seattle but we believe can hit,” says another GM. Which is what the Red Sox did when they took the shot on Mike Carp.

“I got to Fenway, started relaxing, didn’t try to pull the ball and my old stroke came back,” says Carp. “Safeco is death on driving the ball to left-center, which is where I need to stay. Fenway is the opposite.” Ask Fred Lynn, Mo Vaughn, David Ortiz, Wade Boggs

The fact remains that while the Mariners are second to last in the American League in runs scored at home, in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 they were last. Dead last.

Now, in a city like Seattle, with some of the most intelligent analysis in the baseball journalism universe, one cannot pawn off the Mariners’ ill-fated history. Erik Bedard for Adam Jones and Chris Tillman? Jeff Clement? No need to go further. But they began to worry that Ackley was part of the bad legacy.

Ackley wasn’t just a good hitter at North Carolina, he was a great hitter, hence being the second pick in the 2009 draft after Stephen Strasburg and the signing bonus of more than $8M. He played 90 games for the Mariners in 2011, hit .273 with a .348/.421/.908 slash.

But it didn’t hold. In 2012, bothered by his ankles, he fell to .226/.294/.328/.622. Then he started 2013 a mess, .205/.266/.250. 

On to Tacoma. There they decided to let him play both left and center fields. “He took to both,” says Zduriencik. “He’s played both really well. His throwing has really come back."

In the meantime, Nick Franklin has played second base very well. Shortstop Brad Miller is starting to emerge in Tacoma. Catcher Mike Zunino is in the grooming process in the big leagues. And the off-season acquisitions of Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales have paid off, because they both can hit in Seattle.

“The most important thing is that the Seattle Mariners are returning to being a pitching team,” says Zduriencik. King Felix Hernandez is under contractual lock and key. Hisashi Iwakuma is really good, and his GM says, “believe me, he’s not going anywhere.” While Zduriencik admits he regrets trading Doug Fister, he projects Taijuan (Sky) Walker, Danny Hultzen and Erasmo Ramirez in the Seattle rotation by this time next season.

If that pitching is as good as they believe and Ackley, Franklin, Zunino and others join Kyle Seager in developing in Safeco, the Mariners can get good again, in a hurry. Parity? NFL equality? Fine, if you live in Seattle, you deserve a reason to believe.