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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Thursday
Jun022011

J.D. Drew's Power Drop

J.D. Drew (BOS) has been struggling.  He's currently hitting .228/.342/.338 with 3 HRs; at this point last year he was hitting .269/.346/.434 with 6 HRs.  Obviously the lack of power is the main issue.

J.D. Drew
(Click to enlarge)

As the graphic shows, Drew is really struggling to do anything with pitches away, and his power zone up has faded.

Drew's HR/FB rate currently sits at 5.1%, more than 10% below his 2010 number.  He's walking at about the same rate, however, if he doesn't begin to prop up his power numbers, he may find himself on the bench as the Red Sox look to younger players like Pawtucket callup Josh Reddick.

Wednesday
Jun012011

Beckett in May

Josh Beckett of the Red Sox finished May with an impressive 1.00 ERA.  One reason for his excellent numbers came from Josh's performance against left-handed batters. They posted a .197/.282/.211 slash line against the right-hander, good for a .239 wOBA.  Notice that he used the whole strike zone against lefties:

Josh Beckett, pitch frequency against LHB, May 2011.Beckett pitched lefties low and inside, a place where left-handed power hitters especially like to drive the ball.  Josh, however, owned the inside edge:

Josh Beckett, in play average by LHB, May 2011.That big blue area came from the effective use of his cut fastball.  Beckett threw his fastball high and more toward the middle of the plate.  That set up the cutter, which he kept inside:

Josh Beckett, pitch frequncey on the cutter against LHB, May 2011.Looking at the break of the fastball and cutter you can really see how it fooled batters.

Josh Beckett, movement on fastball and cutter against LHB, May 2011.The big red circle represents the fastball, the little yellow spot down and inside represents the cutter.  Batters see the fastball, they get used to it coming in and breaking a little bit toward them.  Then Beckett unleashes the cutter at close to the same speed and and direction, but the ball breaks in and down instead of staying up and over the plate.  Beckett got batters to chase 38% of the cutters out of the zone, and received called strikes on 28% of those pitches.  He lefties in and out of the zone, turning an area of strength into a weakness.

Monday
May232011

Wakefield Throwing Strikes

Tim Wakefield's (BOS) success as a knuckleball pitcher came from his ability to throw the pitch for a strike.  Sunday night's game against the Cubs showed off that ability well.

Tim Wakefield, pitch frequency on the knuckleball, May 22, 2011.That's pretty amazing that a pitch with an unknown movement can be so accurate.  One reason may be that Wakefield can throw the pitch a bit more predictably than you might imagine:

Tim Wakefield, pitch movement of the knuckleball, May 22, 2011.A high number of these pitches had a nice dip, down, in to left-handed batters, in to right-handed batters.  Note that there are many that have no relation to that movement, but that core is the movement on which Tim hits the strike zone.  Note that many of the pitches in the zone are high, so with that movement, the ball is falling into the zone, looking like it might be out of the zone at first.  Because of that, Tim induced swings at balls above the strike zone, and taken pitches high in the strike zone.

The movement graph also demonstrates that Tim can control the ball fairly well.  If he can get a consistent spin on the ball, it should really do the same thing.  He's not just tossing it hoping it will find the strike zone.  He's replicating the motion well enough that 38 of his 68 knuckleballs ended up in the strike zone, most of those with the movement you see in the concentrated area on the lower chart.  That's impressive control of a tough pitch.