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Entries in Albert Pujols (17)

Wednesday
Sep212011

Looking When it Counts

White there are plenty of selective hitters in Major League Baseball, there is one count in which batters need to take with certainty, 3-2.  Take a ball and in that count and win a free pass to first base, take a strike and walk back to the dugout.  During the last four seasons, 101 players took at least 100 pitches on a 3-2 count.  The following table shows the hitters who took the highest percentage of walks, or taking ball four:

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Albert Pujols 9.4% 90.6%
Brian Roberts 8.5% 90.6%
Dustin Pedroia 8.7% 90.4%
Adrian Gonzalez 9.9% 90.1%
Joey Votto 11.0% 89.0%
Miguel Cabrera 10.3% 89.0%
David Ortiz 11.0% 88.4%
Derek Jeter 11.4% 87.9%
Luke Scott 11.4% 87.6%
Andrew McCutchen 12.5% 87.5%

 

I'm not surprised that sluggers like Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto are near the top of the list.  Often, pitchers will work carefully to these batters, since throwing the a strike might result in a home run.  It's better to try to get them to chase an outside pitch, but these sluggers have an excellent eye for the strike zone.

Note that along with the sluggers are table setters like Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter. Their ability to work the count and draw walks makes them so valuable at the top of the order.  You may also notice that the Red Sox stock up on players with great strikeout judgement, as three of these hitters currently reisde in Boston.

At the other end of the spectrum are the hitters who strike out quite often.

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Drew Stubbs 28.4% 70.6%
Andruw Jones 26.2% 73.8%
Mike Cameron 25.0% 75.0%
Troy Tulowitzki 23.8% 76.2%
Jack Cust 22.1% 77.9%
Jorge Posada 22.0% 77.1%
B. J. Upton 21.7% 77.9%
David DeJesus 21.6% 78.4%
Hanley Ramirez 21.6% 77.8%
Dexter Fowler 21.6% 77.6%

 

Note that there are a number of good, or formerly good hitters in this list.  Jorge Posada saw his hitting prowess fade this season, but he still reached base at a good clip the last few years.  Troy Tulowitzki rates as the outstanding hitting shortstop in the majors, and Hanley Ramirez held that distinction in previous seasons.  With the exception of B.J. Upton, these are players that are very good, but have more flaws that the group at the top.  It seems that the willingness to take on 3-2 indicates a selective hitter, regardless of how well the 3-2 looks turns out.

Monday
Jun062011

Carlos on Carlos - The Marmol and Theriot facts

After watching Carlos Marmol blow a 9th inning lead to the Cardinals on Sunday, Carlos Zambrano let loose a barrage to the gathered reporters. Marmol, who has blown saves in Zambrano's last two outings, threw a slider to Ryan Theriot with a 2-2 count and the tying run on first. Theriot, who said he was "looking for a slider the whole time", ripped it into the left-field corner for a game-tying double. Albert Pujols won it with a 10th inning walkoff. 

Zambrano said Marmol should have thrown Theriot a fastball, but instead gave him a slider. "We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter, we should know that as a team," Zambrano said. "We stink. That's all I have to say."

Let's look at some facts:

Batters are hitting .219 against Marmol this season. Yes, that is up considerably from his lifetime .177 BAA but still pretty good.

The fastball is a mixed bag for Marmol:

Marmol has thrown 198 fastballs. Batters have swung and missed on 21.9%.Batters are 10-for-21 against the Marmol fastball, a .476 avg.

The slider is Marmol's out pitch.

Marmol has thrown 277 slidersBatters are 8-for-71 against the Marmol slider, a .113 avg.

Next comes Ryan Theriot...

Theriot against the slider:

Theriot has seen 132 sliders this seasonAgainst the slider, Theriot is hitting .478, 11-for-23.

Against the fastball:

Theriot has seen 480 fastballsRyan is  33-for-107, good for a .308 average.

Bottom Line:

Ryan Theriot is a hot hitter. He has a .300 average this season and in his current 19-game hitting streak is hitting .333. Yes, he hits sliders better than fastballs, but the slider is Marmol's best pitch.

Should Marmol have thrown the slider? That's for you to decide.

Should Zambrano have spoken out? That, I have already decided and my answer is, "No."

Monday
Jun062011

Carlos Zambrano: "We stink."

No, there's no heat map technology that quantifies team stink.  Yet.  But after yesterday's extra inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs' starter Carlos Zambrano said a few things that may need fact checking.

Zambrano told reporters after the game that Albert Pujols, who hit the walkoff HR to give the Cardinals the win, "wasn't the problem."  Instead, he said that the Ryan Theriot AB was the real problem.  Of course, he's referring to the game tying double that Theriot hit off Cubs' closer Carlos Marmol.  Zambrano went on to say, "We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter. We should know that as a team."

There's just one problem with that statement: Theriot is actually a pretty decent fastball hitter.  He's hitting .308 against fastballs this season, and more than half his hits (33 of 63) have been against the fastball heading into yesterday's game.  Sure, he's only put up a .346 slugging percentage against the pitch, but his overall SLG% is just .347.

Theriot's game tying hit off Marmol came on a 2-2 changeup.  He had fouled off two fastballs to start the AB, so Marmol started throwing his off-speed stuff - a changeup and a slider, both for balls.  The final, and fatal changeup came down and in to Theriot who lined it down the left field line for a double.  Heading into the game, Theriot was only hitting .143 against the change in 16 plate appearances decided on the pitch (66 total changeups seen).  That's the worst average against any pitch for Theriot this season save the splitter, of which he's only seen 6 pitches.

If we go all the way back to the beginning of the 2010 season, Theriot is actually hitting better against fastballs than any other pitch.  In fact, at .304, the fastball is the only pitch he's hitting over .300 against since the beginning of last season.  And his .346 SLG% since then is the highest for any pitch he's seen with a minimum of 100 pitches.  Against the change: .287 average with a .299 SLG%.

So really, Zambrano's statement is a bit unfounded.  Theriot isn't exactly crushing fastballs, but he's been no worse against them than any other pitch.  The bigger question might be why Marmol threw any changeups at all, since he's thrown a total of 21 since the beginning of 2010.  Perhaps the focus shouldn't have been on Theriot's weaknesses, but instead on Marmol's strengths.  His slider is his most deadly pitch and he only threw one in that AB.  And since 2010, Theriot's contact rate is worse against sliders (77.5%) than all other pitches combined (91.7%).  With two strikes, the slider seems like the best bet in that situation for Marmol.

If you're going to get beat, it might as well be on your best pitch.  Because getting beat on one you've only thrown 21 times in more than a year, well....stinks.