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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)


Jacoby Ellsbury Tater Tidbits

 With three more clouts yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury has now hit more home runs during the 2011 season (31) than he hit in the minor and major leagues combined from 2005-2010 (30). Here are some tidbits on Ellsbury's tater binge this year.

- Ellsbury has hit 12 homers apiece in hitter's and pitcher's counts, and seven in even counts.

- The lefty hitter is the anti-Adrian Gonzalez, pulling 25 of his homers to right field, going deep to center four times and going the opposite way twice.

- Ellsbury is doing almost all of his damage on pitches below the letters. Just one home run has been on a pitch located high in the strike zone, compared to 21 on pitches located in the middle and nine thrown low:

Pitch location of Ellsbury's HRs, 2011

- Thirty of his dingers have been on pitches located within the strike zone.

- Fifteen of Ellsbury's homers have come at Fenway, and 16 have come on the road.

- Right-handed pitchers have been victimized 26 times, and leties five times.

- Here's a breakdown of how many homers Ellsbury has hit aganst each pitch type:

21 fastballs/sinkers

5 changeups/splitters

5 sliders/cutters

- Ellsbury has saved his most prodigious slugging for September, averaging a season-best 393 feet on his seven homers this month. He averaged 375 feet on his round-trippers from April-August.

 - Ellsbury's 31 shots place him fifth all-time among Red Sox center fielders, according to Baseball-Reference. Here's the rest of the top five:

1. Tony Armas, 43 (1984)

2. Fred Lynn, 39 (1979)

3. Armas, 36 (1983)

4. Carl Everett, 34 (2000)

5. Ellsbury, 31 (2011)

- Measured by OPS+, Ellsbury's big homer season (146 OPS+) ranks ahead of those of Armas (85 in '83, 121 in '84) and Everett (135), but well behind Lynn (176).



Papelbon's High Heat

Jonathan Papelbon had an old-school relief outing in Boston's eventual 7-4 win last night, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings and striking out four hitters. The free-agent-to-be is having arguably his best season yet, cobbling together an 85/10 K/BB ratio in 62.2 innings and placing second among all relievers with 2.8 Wins Above Replacement. Papelbon's resurgence after a middling 2010 campaign is due to his high heat -- he's blowing hitters away high in the zone with his fastball.

The 30-year-old righty is climbing the ladder more often with his fastball this year, increasing his percentage of heaters thrown high in the strike zone from 45 to 53 percent. He got hit hard sometimes when he threw high fastballs last year, but he's getting more misses, chases and weak contact in 2011:


Papelbon's fastball has similar velocity (94-95 mph average) to last year's version. Perhaps part of the reason that his high fastballs are more effective this year is that he's throwing them to the glove side instead of the arm side, creating more of a contrast with his splitter that drops and tails away from lefty hitters:

Location of Papelbon's high fastballs, 2010Location of Papelbon's high fastballs, 2011Whatever the reason, Papelbon's unhittable high heat is padding his pocketbook and bailing out a beat-up Boston staff that's pitching like it belongs in a Peanuts comic strip instead of a playoff race. If this is his last hurrah with the Red Sox, he's certainly going out in style.


Ellsbury Still Getting Stronger

Three months ago I postulated that Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox became stronger due to rehabilitating his injury from the previous season.  It appears the increase in strength did not abate.  Jacoby started a power tear on July 20, and it continues through his current 18 game hitting streak.  The following graph shows how his fly ball distance and slugging on those fly balls changed during the current season:

Jacoby Ellsbury, fly balls 2011, distance and in play slugging.You could draw a very nice upward sloping line showing how Ellsbury's fly balls have pretty steadily carried farther throughout  the year.  Note that early in the season, the fly balls didn't carry as much, but his slugging percentage was still good as many of those fell for doubles.  Starting on the 20th, he hit the tipping point where the long hits went a little further and started landing in the seats.

You can also see him getting stronger in his slugging heat maps (all balls in play):

Jacoby Ellsbury, in play slugging, 2011 season through July 19th.Jacoby Ellsbury, in play slugging, 2011 season since July 20th.He's expanded the area where he drives the ball.  Whatever exercises he's doing, the whole Red Sox team should adopt them.