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Entries in Atlanta Braves (42)


Rockies Versus Freddy Freeman

Thursday afternoon, Fredie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves hit his 15th homer of the season, but it was his sixth longball against the Colorado Rockies. The question then comes up, "What are the Rockies doing wrong?" He's played one tenth of his games against Colorado, but those games produced 40% of his home runs.

When it comes to slugging, Freeman covers the strike zone very well.

Freddy Freeman, in play slugging, 2011.Looking at that heat map, pitchers should aim low and away.  In fact, that's what they do:

Freddy Freeman, pitch frequency, 2011.The Rockies staff, however, has not been consistent in hitting the lower outside corner.

Freddy Freeman, pitch frequency against Colorado, 2011.The Rockies staff put plenty of pitches inside and up in the middle of the plate this season, just where Freeman likes to smack the ball.  Today's home run was outside, but it was a slider that didn't slide and a bit up.  Freeman's home runs against Colorado came from poor execution by the Rockies staff.


The Venters Difference

Most pitchers work off a fastball.  The fast ball sets up an off-speed pitch, a change up that looks like the fastball out of the hand of the pitcher, but comes in slower and at a different angle.  Jonny Venters of the Atlanta Braves works differently. He throws a fast pitch, but it is a split fingered fastball or power sinker.  He only uses the traditional top-spin fastball about 7% of the time he throws a hard pitch.

Jonny Venters, fastball movement, 2011.His fastball stays up and comes in pretty straight.  He shows batters this pitch mostly to keep them honest.

Jonny Venters, sinker movement, 2011.

Venters gets a nice two-dimensional difference between his fastball and his sinker/split finger pitch.

Instead of a change up, Venters throws a slider:

Jonny Venters, slider movement, 2011.This pitch offers another two-dimensional difference.  The sinker comes in at 94.5 MPH, the slider at 85.6 MPH.  While the sinker breaks down toward the catcher's right hand, the slider breaks to the backstop's left.

Overall, Venters throws 73% sinkers and 19% sliders.  With two strikes on a hitter, however, he throws 51% sinkers and 41% sliders.  Saving the slider for those situations makes it his out pitch, as 37 of his 56 K have come on the pitch.

Note, also, that when Venters comes into a game late, batters are almost always going to used to seeing a traditional fastball/change up combination from earlier in the game.  Venters forces batters to adjust to a fastball that sinks, and a slider off that with great movement.  That's why he's on the All-Star team.


Dan Uggla's Ugly Season

Dan Uggla's first season as a member of the Atlanta Braves has been terrible. Last year, in his final season with the Marlins, Uglla hit .282 with 33 homers and 105 RBI. His slugging percentage was .508 and his OPS was .877.

You don't need any pictures to show you how awful this season has been for the second baseman. Uggla is hitting .187 with 12 homers and 28 RBI. He's slugging .340 and has an OPS .587.

Let's use our heat maps to see if we can pinpoint the difference for Uggla.

Here is Uggla's 2010 slugging:

Uggla owned everything from the middle of the plate inward

Here is Uggla's 2011 slugging:

The difference is significant. There are now huge holes everywhere except for one quadrant.

Here is Uggla's 2010 against the slider:

Uggla saw 512 sliders last season. Hitting against the slider last season, Uggla was 28-for-113 (.248), with nine doubles and six homers. He slugged .487 with an .810 OPS.

Here is Uggla's 2011 against the slider:

Uggla has seen 233 sliders this season. Hitting against the slider this season, Uggla is 7-for-58 (.121), with two doubles and one homer. He is slugging .207 with an .357 OPS.

That's one pitch, now look at this...

Uggla's 2010 against lefties:

Uggla against lefties last season hit .306, slugged .575, and had an OPS of .983. He hit nine doubles and nine homers. 

This season it's a very different story...

Uggla's 2011 against lefties:

Uggla against lefties this season is hitting .116, slugging .198, and has an OPS of .380. He has four doubles and one homer. 

Uggla has to be wondering when this season long slump will finally come to an end. So do the Braves and their fans.