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Entries in Arizona Diamondbacks (25)

Monday
Sep192011

Goldschmidt Likes Speed

Since his call-up on August 1, Paul Goldschmidt has helped slug the Diamondbacks into first place and cast aside fans' sour memories of failed first base options like Russell Branyan, Xavier Nady and Juan Miranda. The former eighth-round pick out of Texas State has a .262 average, a .340 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage in 147 plate appearances, tallying eight home runs after going the opposite way in PETCO Park on an Aaron Harang fastball yesterday.

So far, Goldschmidt has smoked high-speed pitches. Check out his numbers against "hard" offerings (fastballs, sinkers, cutters and splitters):

Goldschmidt: .351/.435/.676

Average for non-pitchers: .284/.358/.448

Lower-speed stuff, on the other hand, is giving him lots of trouble. Here are his stats versus "soft" pitches (breaking balls and changeups):

Goldschmidt: .143/.210/.268

Average for non-pitchers: .237/.238/.374

It seems like pitchers are aware of Goldschmidt's issues with the slow stuff. Goldschmidt has seen a "hard" pitch 56 percent of the time, and a "soft" one 44 percent. The average for non-pitchers is 63 percent for "hard" and 37 percent of "soft." Until Goldschmidt shows he can adjust when the radar gun readings drop, pitchers would be best served by continuing to feed him breaking balls and changeups. Too often, those high-velocity pitches soar toward the bleachers at an ever higher speed.

Monday
Aug222011

Curtis Granderson, the right man against lefties

December 9, 2009 was a date that has had a profound affect on three teams that are in first place today. On that date, the Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees. The Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers. Talk about deals that deserve the Charlie Sheen Award for WIN-WIN-WIN!

Austin Jackson finished second in the AL last season in the Rookie of the Year voting. Ian Kennedy at 15-4 is getting some Cy Young Award talk this season and now, Curtis Granderson is in the mix for the AL MVP award this season. The Grandy Man leads the league in runs with 114, in triples with 10, in RBI with 98 and has 35 homers and a .965 OPS.

Watching Granderson's improvement has been dramatic. Let me remind you that on July 7 of last season he was hitting .225 and hitting seventh in the Yankee lineup. 

Here's what Granderson looked like up to July 7 last season:

Granderson was hitting a weak .225Granderson only had 8 doubles, 4 triples, and 7 homers.

But it was his inability to hit lefties that was killing him:

Granderson was .198 against leftiesHe had 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 homer.

Then along came Kevin Long:

Granderson hit .257 from July 9 onGranderson worked hard with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long and it produced results. He had 9 doubles, 3 triples, and 17 homers to end 2010 strongly.

Here's how he did against lefties from July 9 on:

Grandy hit .257 against lefties and .257 against rightiesAgainst lefties he had 3 doubles and 3 homers, but more importantly he had started getting better plate coverage.

Up to July 7, from the inside to the middle of the plate against lefties, Granderson was getting killed hitting .156. From the middle to the outside of the plate against lefties, Granderson hit .203. From July 9 on from the inside to the middle of the plate against lefties Granderson hit .429. From the middle to the outside of the plate against lefties, Granderson hit .257. 

Jump to 2011:

Grandy is hitting .281 overall this season.

Grandy this season against lefties:

Now Granderson is hitting .281 against lefties and .281 against rightiesOf his 35 homers this season, 13 are against lefties.

Granderson's quick bat against lefties, Inside to the Middle of the plate:

Grandy is hitting .270

Granderson's quick bat against lefties, Middle to the Outside of the plate:

Grandy is hitting .278 with 12 homersLooking at these heat maps you can see the incredible difference in Granderson. Since last July 7, Granderson is hitting .276 with 31 doubles, 14 triples, and 53 homers.

Granderson has clearly been the right man against lefties this season, which means if we are looking at the postseason, the Texas Rangers with their three lefty starters have to prefer to face the Boston Red Sox.

Monday
Aug152011

Powerful Upton in MVP Discussion

As the Arizona Diamondbacks chase the Giants for the NL West title, Justin Upton is making a strong case that he's the most valuable player in the Senior Circuit. No longer burdened by the left shoulder injury that short-circuited his power last season, Upton popped his 25th home run of the year yesterday (one short of tying his career high set in 2009), and his career-best .564 slugging percentage ranks in the top 10 among qualified hitters.

Back in June, David Pinto examined Upton's more aggressive two-strike approach, which has cut his strikeout rate from nearly 27 percent in 2010 to about 18 percent in 2011. Today, I want to look at where within the strike zone Upton is making hard contact. First, here's where pitchers have thrown to Upton over the past two seasons:

Upton's pitch frequency by location, 2010 Upton's pitch frequency by location, 2011

Pitchers try to stay away against Upton: about 47 percent of the pitches that he has seen over the past two years have been thrown away. Now, look at Upton's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location over the past two seasons:

 Upton's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2010

Upton's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2011

Upton thumped high pitches in 2010, but he struggled badly on pitches thrown on the outer third of the plate. This year, however, he's hammering outer pitches: Upton has a .475 slugging percentage against outside offerings, compared to .287 last season (.344 league average for non-pitchers).

Now that he's handling outside pitches, Upton ranks among the game's offensive elite. His 155 OPS+ at age 23 places him between Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Hank Greenberg and is the best age-23 season by OPS+ since Prince Fielder in 2007 (157), according to Baseball-Reference. Suffice it to say, there will be no trade talk surrounding the younger Upton this off-season.

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