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Entries in Albert Pujols (17)

Sunday
Jul072013

The Red Sox are over-using Koji Uehara

The Red Sox have had nothing but trouble in the closer's slot ever since they let Jonathan Papelbon escape to Philadelphia after the 2011 season.

It's been a series of bad judgments, bad performances, and bad injuries in the back of the pen.

The Sox have seen eight different relievers earn at least one save for Boston 

Rk Player SV From To G GF
1 Alfredo Aceves 25 2012 2013 78 57
2 Andrew Bailey 14 2012 2013 47 30
3 Koji Uehara 5 2013 2013 40 12
4 Joel Hanrahan 4 2013 2013 9 6
5 Franklin Morales 1 2012 2013 43 6
6 Junichi Tazawa 1 2012 2013 77 20
7 Mark Melancon 1 2012 2012 41 17
8 Vicente Padilla 1 2012 2012 56 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/7/2013.

Koji Uehara is the latest to try closing

Koji Uehara is an exuberant, youthful 38-years old, but he has never appeared in as many games prior to the All-Star break.


Year W L W-L% ERA G GS GF SV IP HR BB SO WHIP
  2009 2 4 .333 4.05 12 12 0 0 66.2 7 12 48 1.245
  2010 0 0   4.00 10 0 3 0 9.0 0 4 10 1.667
  2011 1 1 .500 2.03 37 0 17 0 40.0 6 8 52 0.750
  2012 0 0   2.11 20 0 8 0 21.1 3 2 22 0.703
  2013 2 0 1.000 1.93 40 0 12 5 37.1 5 8 53 0.830
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2013.

In addition, he has never been in as many pressure situations as you can see by virtue of the fact that these are his first pre-break saves.

From June 26 - July 6

  • Koji has appeared in eight games.
  • He is 2-0.
  • He's earned four saves and blown two saves.
  • He has a 1.23 ERA and 0.704 WHIP.
  • He's pitched 7.1 innings, allowed four hits, one homer, one walk, and 11 whiffs.

Uehara has thrown 118 pitches, 87 strikes

Of the 118 pitches, 54 are fastballs, 59 are splitters

Uehara is throwing 74% of his pitches for strikes, but he is really heavily in the strike zone. There is not a lot of working of corners.

  • He averages 89.3 on the fastball.
  • He averages 81.1 on the splitter.

When you throw at that speed, location is an imperative

As you can see, too many Uehara pitches are up in the zone. Instead of working up-and-down, Koji's fastballs and splitters are working either side of the plate and that reduces the room for error.

Last night in Anaheim

Koji blew the save last night in the Red Sox 9-7 loss to the Angels. He cam into the game with the bases full, one down in the 9th trying to close out a 7-4 game.

He didn't.

 

  • He faced four batters and allowed two hits which permitted the three inherited runners to score and then when Brandon Snyder tossed the ball into right field on what should hav been the third out, the tying run scored. Uehara should never have put the Sox in that position, he just couldn't put anyone away.
  • He threw four fastballs - averaging 89.1. Batters swung at three, missed one.
  • He threw one slider - it was in a great location, low and away but it was 84.8 and at that speed Albert Pujols made the adjustment and lined it for a two-run single.
  • He threw 12 splitters - averaging 81.0. Batters swung at nine, missed four, but one went for a Josh Hamilton RBI single.
  • He has now allowed seven-of 19 inherited runners to score. Among prelievers who have inherited at least 15 base runners this season, Uehara ranks 56th with a an IRS tax rate of 36.84%.

Bottom Line

Koji is a good pitcher who seems to be a fun teammate. He is not built to be a closer, at least certainly not the closer of a post-season team, but he's a terrific bridge to the closer. 

Chances are really good that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington already knows that and is working those phones and hopefully for Boston he will land some bullpen help before Uehera is running on empty.

Saturday
May182013

Soft Stuff Killing Prince Albert

It's often said that diminished bat speed does in aging sluggers. Thirty-something power hitters, who once made bleacher creatures duck for cover upon being challenged with a fastball, make meek contact or whiff entirely as their quick-twitch fibers fray. At first blush, Albert Pujols seems to fit this narrative perfectly. The 33-year-old, hobbled by a surgically-repaired right knee, has a mere seven homers and a .422 slugging percentage so far in 2013. Pujols is the best first baseman since Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx, but even Prince Albert can't stave off the effects of a slowing bat.

Problem is, that narrative couldn't be more wrong. An older, gimpier Pujols is still crushing fastballs. It's the slow stuff -- breaking balls and changeups -- that's proving to be his downfall.

Pujols' slugging percentage vs. fastballs, 2013

Pujols is slugging .565 against fastballs this season. That doesn't quite match his Herculean production in past years (he slugged .587 versus the heat from 2010-12), but it's still over 100 points above the MLB average (.443). Against slow stuff, however, Pujols isn't nearly so studly...

Pujols' slugging percentage vs. curveballs, sliders and changeups, 2013

Unless pitchers hang one over the heart of the plate, Pujols isn't punishing breaking and off-speed stuff. He's slugging a paltry .279 against soft stuff, a far cry from his .460 mark the previous three seasons and over 100 points below the MLB average (.392). Pujols' lone homer against on a slow pitch in 2013 came on a Pat Neshek slider on April 29.

So far, Pujols has seen only slightly fewer two-and-four-seam fastballs (45.6%) than the average MLB hitter (46.6%). That could change if he continues to make such weak contact on curves, sliders and changeups. Pujols may be on the decline, but the cause is slow stuff, not a slowing bat.

Tuesday
May142013

About one in three Justin Upton's fly balls are home runs

Joe Sheehan has a great piece in the 5/13 edition of Sports Illustrated presenting the case for Justin Upton.

Sheehan writes about Upton, "He's swinging harder and missing more pitches (a 12% swing-and-miss rate, his highest since 2009), but he's crushing the ones he's hitting: An absurd 35.3% of his fly balls leave the yard."

This got me curious as to who else has a high flyball to HR percentage.

To his credit, Sheehan in his article was quick to point out, "Upton isn't going to hit 60 bombs. His home-run-to-fly-ball rate isn't sustainable; his career mark coming into this year was 13.2%. The league leaders in the category usually end up around 25%."

As you can see from the chart above, Upton has already dropped down to 30.2%.

Not surprisingly, right behind him are Ryan Braun and Bryce Harper, both with numbers in the upper 20th percentile. But it may surprise you (because it did me) how good Mets teammates John Buck and Lucas Duda's numbers are.

Carlos Gomez and Ryan Howard are both at 15.8%

Then you have to look and wonder what s going on with David Wright, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, and Buster Posey, all of whom are in the 13th percentile of flyballs turning into homers.

Take a look at the guys under 10% and you will be amazed to see names including Alfonso Soriano, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp.

Their teams have to be wondering what happened to the power?

Looking at the AL and we see Mark Trumbo and Michael Morse's power in action

Chris Davis is pounding the baseball and the Indians have to be thrilled with the success of Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana.

Robinson Cano is making it more and more expensive for the Yankees to keep him. And, Chris Carter and Jose Bautista have identical numbers.

But what has happened to the Red Sox' Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks?

In the 15th percentile are a number of batters including: Miguel Cabrera, Mitch Moreland, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham, Adrian Beltre, Alex Gordon and Mike Trout.

And their numbers are better than Adam Jones, Billy Butler, Albert Pujols (10.6%!) and Josh Hamilton (10.0%!!).

There is a lot of warning track power being exhibited these days, but just remember there is a much better opportunity for something good happening on a fly ball than on a strikeout.