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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Tuesday
Jul262011

Dustin Pedroia under the 'scope

Pig-Pen, not PedroiaIn Boston, where he wears as much as the second base dirt as seemingly possible, Dustin Pedroia (aka "The Muddy Chicken"), has been creating his own heat dome of late. Since June 9, when Pedroia had his knee scoped, Pedey has hit .371 with a .454 OBP and a slugging percentage of .648. Let me save you the brain power, that's an OPS of 1.102.

Pedroia has a 22 game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 34 straight games. He has been so hot that he even has columnists like Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com speculating whether this four-and-a-half season veteran is on his way to Cooperstown.

We thought the least we could do here at BaseballAnalytics.org is put his heat under our 'scope, so that you can see the anatomy of his streak.

Before June 9

231 at bats through June 9

Up to June 9, in 59 games, Pedey hit .247 with a .361 OBP and a slugging percentage of .338. His OPS of .699 was .403 less than it has been since that date. Probably because of the pain of bending his knee, Pedroia was getting killed on sliders hitting .118 with just four singles in 34 at bats.

Since June 9

159 at bats since June 9A lot more red wouldn't you agree? Pitchers have continued to throw Pedey the slider, but now with very different results. Since the knee pain has been relieved, Pedroia has gone 11-for-37 (.407) on the slider with three doubles and two homers. 

The arthroscopic difference

Pedroia's arthroscopic procedure has clearly made him more comfortable in going low for a pitch but by also help him get around the ball and turn that knee to hit inside pitches with more force and power.

Up to June 9Leading up to June 9, Pedroia struggled on inside pitches hitting .188 and slugging .238 in 80 at bats. 

Since June 9

Since June 9, Pedroia is 20-for-43 on the same inside pitches that were getting him out regularly prior to the procedure. The .471 batting average has prodced a .791 slugging percentage.

Obviously Pedroia can't be expected to stay this hot, but as that knee stays healthy we can expect his numbers to stay healthy as well.

Monday
Jul182011

The Bard of Boston

William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, may have been a terrific wordsmith but I doubt he could hold his own coming out of the bullpen like the Bard of Boston, the Red Sox' Daniel Bard. For Sox manager, Terry Francona, Bard has been pitching like a midsummer's night dream. Since May 27, Bard has held opponents scoreless in 20 appearances covering 21.2 innings over his last 20 games. According to Elias, Bard’s 20 straight scoreless outings match the all-time club record, previously accomplished by Ugueth Urbina from 4/26-6/26/2002.

Let's take a look under the hood....

Bard's scoreless streak since 5/27

Bard has faced 77 batters and thrown 278 pitchesOverall, batters in this streak are hitting .113 (8-for-71), .132 against his fastball and .063 against his slider.

Placement of Bard's fastball

His fastball is his pitch-to-contact pitch. While he has recorded 10 whiffs in 58 plate appearances against the fastball, batters have swung and missed 19.6% of the time.

71.1% of his fastballs are for strikes

Placement of slider

His slider is his strikeout pitch. He has recorded 12 whiffs in 17 plate appearances using the slider. Batters have swung and missed 54.2% of the time.

Coming out of Bard's hand, the slider looks like a fastball, but the difference in its break is significant.

Batters are 1-for-16 with 12 whiffs

These two pitches, mixed with an occasional changeup, are the reasons why Bard has the longest active scoreless streak in the majors and longest by a Boston pitcher this season. Bard’s is the longest for a Sox reliever in a single season since Jonathan Papelbon’s 22.0-inning streak, 5/4-6/26/06 and the quality of Bard's pitching is why Papelbon may already be expendable for GM Theo Epstein because we all know that a closer by any other name may still smell as sweet...maybe even sweeter.

 

Tuesday
Jul122011

Robinson Cano and the Long Ball

New York Yankee Robinson Cano put on quite a show last night as he outdueled Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) in the final round of the HR Derby, winning it with 32 total HRs.  His 12 homers in the final round set a record for the derby.

Playing for the Yankees, a team that has big sluggers like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Cano's power sometimes gets short shrift.  But after last night, it will be hard for anyone to ignore his long ball proclivity.

Cano seemed more than comfortable having his father, Jose Cano, throw to him last night.  While BP pitchers usually soft toss fastballs one after another, one wonders if Cano could have produced even more HRs last night if he was facing sliders.

Since 2009, Robinson Cano has hit more HRs off sliders than any AL batter with 21, and second behind fellow HR Derby contestant and former derby winner Prince Fielder (MIL), who has 23.  Those 21 homers tie the number he has hit off fastballs in that same span of time.  His 8.0 HR% on sliders (highest among any pitches he has seen since 2009) ranks 5th in baseball behind Jason Giambi (9.1%), Russell Branyan (9.0%), Prince Fielder (8.3%), and Hideki Matsui (8.3%).

Since the 2010 All-Star Break, Cano has hit 11 HRs off sliders, best in the league.  He has a 27.5% HR/FB rate on sliders, ranking him in the top 4% of the league.    And his 11.0 HR% on sliders in that time is best among all major league hitters, even Jose Bautista (10.4 HR%).

If Cano is looking to top last night's performance in next year's home run derby, perhaps Jose will break out the slider in Kansas City.