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Entries in Atlanta Braves (42)

Thursday
Aug182011

Jonny Venters' Dominant Slider

Jonny Venters has thrown 191 sliders this season, and opposing hitters have swung at 103 of those sliders.  Yet, of those 103 swings, they have hit nothing but air 70.9% of the time.  That leads all major league pitchers throwing sliders.  Sergei Santos of the Chicago White Sox comes in second with 64.9%, and there are only five other pitchers who have produced a Miss% rate on sliders greater than 50% this season.

(Click image to enlarge)

You can see that he keeps the slider away from lefties, missing the strike zone the majority of the time, while keeping it on the bottom of the zone to righties.  Venters has gotten opposing hitters to swing at his sliders located out of the zone 51.5% of the time.  In fact, Lefties have chased 61% of sliders he's thrown out of the zone, which ranks 3rd best in the league behind Jaime Garcia and Joel Hanrahan.

Last season, Venters was getting hitters to swing and miss at 63.7% of his sliders and chase 41.5%.  While both are still excellent overall (his Miss% also led the league in 2010), his current slider has gone above and beyond.  Lefties are hitting just .115 against, while righties have yet to get a hit in 35 plate appearances decided on a slider.  In fact, in the 61 PA in which a Jonny Venters slider was the deciding pitch, 51 have been strike outs (47 swinging, 4 looking).  The fact that he can throw his slider effectively to both righties and lefties is a major reason he hasn't allowed an earned run since June 29th.

Wednesday
Aug172011

Selling High

The Houston Astros may have traded Michael Bourn of the Atlanta Braves and Hunter Pence of the Philadelphia Phillies at just the right time.  Bourn ranks third in the majors and Pence seventh in batting average on balls in play (BABIP).  That measures the ability of batters to get hits when they don't strike out or hit the ball out of the park.  In other words, the ability to get a ball past fielders.

Extreme BABIPs tend to settle back to the .300 range.  Look at both these players during the last four seasons:

 

BABIPMichael BournHunter Pence
2008 .290 .301
2009 .366 .308
2010 .329 .304
2011 .377 .368

 

Pence's 2011 represents a big outlier.  Bourn reached this rare atmosphere before, in 2009.  A high BABIP helps to lead to a high batting average, and helped make this pair look desirable to other teams.  Don't trust this to last past this season, however.    This season, among batting qualifiers, the spread of BABIP is .200 to .387.  If you look at the last four seasons, however, that spread is down to .253 to .355.  The extremes just don't hold up.  The Astros did a good job of selling their players when they looked their best.

Sunday
Aug142011

Dan Uggla's Hit Streak Ends

Dan Uggla's 33 game hit streak came to an end versus the Cubs today in Atlanta.  One of the interesting things that stood out during the streak was his increased contact on pitches up and away.  Over the last two and a half seasons, you can see in the graphic below that Dan Uggla made most of his contact on inside pitches. However, during his hit streak, Uggla was putting wood on a lot of balls up and away. 

Dan Uggla
(Click image to enlarge)

The zone location breakdown of the 49 hits that Uggla accumulated over the streak was 8 inside, 19 middle, and 22 outside. His added contact on those outside pitches certainly helped keep the streak alive.