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Entries in Baltimore Orioles (38)


Learning the Lefties

Switch hitter Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles improved his batting average and slugging percentage by about 20 points this season, meaning he's hitting on average more singles.  His improvement came almost entirely against left-handed pitchers.  In 2010, he hit .210 against southpaws and .263 against right-handed pitchers.  This season, he's up to .303 against left-handers, with he dropped to .247 against righties.

In 2010, he got very little production against LHP in the middle of the plate.

Matt Wieters, in play average vs. LHP, 2010.He was fine inside and outside, but up and down in the middle was a cold wasteland.  He swung a lot a inside pitches against lefties that year:

Matt Wieters, swing rate vs. LHP, 2010.He swung at 53.6% of pitches inside last season.  This year, that's down to 37.6%.  The difference is obvious on the more recent heat map:

Matt Wieters, swing rate vs. LHP, 2011.Matt now swings in the strike zone where he managed little production in 2010.  The results?

Matt Wieters, in play average vs. LHP, 2011.He's swinging at pitches that are easier to hit, and driving the balls for hits.  Now he just needs to figure out something similar against righties.


Hardy Hammering High Pitches

While the Baltimore Orioles' offense ranks toward the bottom of the AL again this season, no one can blame J.J. Hardy. The 28-year-old shortstop, picked up from the Twins this past offseason for a pair of relievers, is hitting .301/.366/.530. That blows away the collective .260/.316/.373 line that MLB shortstops have posted this season. Hardy is enjoying an offensive resurgence by hammering the high stuff.

First, here's the average in-play slugging percentage for MLB hitters on pitches located in the upper third of the zone:

The overall MLB slugging percentage on high pitches (including balls not put in play) is .378. Now, here's how Hardy is faring against the high stuff:

Hardy's overall slugging percentage on high pitches is .826 in 2011. Only Toronto's Adam Lind has done more damage when a pitcher places one high in the zone. For comparison, Hardy slugged .367 on high pitches last season with Minnesota.

A major reason for Hardy's power surge this year is that he has cut his percentage of ground balls hit, especially on high pitches. Hardy hit a worm-burner 41 percent of the time against high stuff in 2010. This year, he has chopped the ball into the ground on high pitches around 23 percent of the time (the MLB average is about 35 percent).

The free agent deals handed out to Derek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero haven't work out for the O's, and trade acquisition Mark Reynolds has slugged at the plate but stumbled in the field. Hardy, however, has shined in his new digs during his walk year. If Baltimore decides to make him available, expect Hardy to be a hot commodity on the trade market.



Bartolo Colon's Heat Map: Yankees vs. Orioles 5/18

Bartolo Colon threw 87 pitches yesterday, and while he didn't get the win, he held the Orioles to 3 hits over 8 innings. He threw mostly fastballs (90.8%), a few sliders, and one changeup according to PitchFX data. His fastball averaged a -5.8 BrkX (horizontal movement from spin) reading and 8.5 BrkZ (vertical movement from spin) reading, both slightly better than league average. He yielded 10 ground balls, 5 line drives, and 4 fly balls, while striking out 7. And as you can see, he located his pitches extremely well, avoiding the middle of the plate while jamming lefties up and in. He also threw to the outside edge of the plate to righties and lefties, recording 5 of his strikeouts on pitches away, 4 of them looking.