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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)

Friday
May202011

Cubs' Jeff Baker vs. Lefties

For the first time since 1918, the Chicago Cubs will be playing at Fenway Park in Boston this weekend.  They'll have a tough challenge with the Red Sox sending Jon Lester to the mound tonight.

Cubs' manager Mike Quade has third baseman Jeff Baker batting in the 3 spot in the first game of the series.  Baker has the Cubs highest batting average versus left handed pitching this season (.457), and the second highest wOBA (.461) behind catcher Geovany Soto (.557). 

(Click to enlarge)

Baker likes the ball down in the zone versus lefties, hitting .375 with a .531 SLG% on balls located there since the beginning of last season.  He's also done well on inside pitches from LHP, hitting .365 with a .577 slugging percentage. Lastly, he's done pretty well when keeping the ball on the ground versus southpaws, batting .328 on grounders since 2010.

Wednesday
May112011

David Ortiz Pulling Less

David Ortiz (BOS) hit six home runs so far this season, but only pulled half of them to right of centerfield.  While Ortiz always showed good power the other way, especially pounding the wall at Fenway, he appears to be going to left quite a bit this season.  The reason comes down to a shift in his power.

David Ortiz, in play slugging, 2008-2010.Note the very hot slugging area down and in.  If you divide the strike zone into thirds, top to bottom, Ortiz hits home runs to all fields in the top to thirds, but strictly pulled the ball in the lower third in this time frame.  Down and in is the traditional place for lefties to hit long drives, as they can get a nice upper cut swing on the pitch.

In 2011, that low power isn't there yet.

David Ortiz, in play slugging, 2011.His power lies mostly in the top half of the zone, the area where he is most likely to drive the ball the other way.  Pitchers know to avoid that area, but the mistakes there are hit for doubles or outs.  We'll see if that keeps up, and if pitchers start to take advantage of a spot that might have turned into a weakness.

Tuesday
May032011

Dustin Pedroia's Excellent At Bat

In the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, Dustin Pedroia (BOS) battled Jered Weaver (LAA) for 13 pitches, the batter eventually delivering a two-RBI single that resulted in the Red Sox taking the lead.  The following chart shows the pitches of the at bat overlayed on Dustin's hot zones since the start of the 2008 season:

Dustin Pedroia vs. Jered Weaver, May 2, 2011, bottom of the fifth inning.From the batter's point of view, this sequence shows Dustin's superb strike zone judgement.  He only swung at two pitches out of the strike zone (6 and 12), and they were both probably too close to take with two strikes and Weaver on the mound.  Dustin did not swing and miss in the sequence, nor did he take a strike.  Each swing resulted in a foul ball or ball in play.  In Moneyball terms, Pedroia's process was very good.

From the pitcher's point of view, Weaver mixed his pitches well in every dimension.  He used four different pitches during the sequence, four fastballs, three changeups, three sliders, and three cutters.  Three times he threw the same pitch on consecutive throws, but on almost every toss he changed location, up, down in and out.  Until the last three pitches, there was always something different about the previous pitch.

The last three pitches, however, is what did in Weaver.  Pitches 11 and 12 were classified as cutters and pitch 13 as a fastball, but the three had all about the same speed, spin and movement.  Pedroia basically saw the same pitch three times in a row for the first time during the at bat.  Note, too, that pitch 13 was higher on the corner than the other two, and that's right on the edge of a hot zone for Dustin.  Pedroia had the pitch timed, Weaver put it in a good location, and the single on pitch 13 turned the game around.  It was a classic battle between a fine pitcher and a fine hitter.