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Entries in Carlos Gonzalez (3)

Monday
Jul092012

HR Derby Tidbits: NL Edition

Team Cano (Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, Mark Trumbo) takes on Team Kemp (Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen) tonight at Kauffman Stadium in the 2012 Home Run Derby (8 PM EST, ESPN). While the Royals' home digs aren't particularly friendly to power hitters during regular games, decreasing homers hits by 27 percent for lefties and 15 percent for righties according to StatCorner, these guys should have little trouble reaching the waterfalls beyond the outfield fences. Here's a closer look at the shots hit by Team Kemp in 2012.

Carlos Beltran

Home Runs: 20

The switch-hitting Beltran, returning to spot where he gracefully roamed the bases and outfield from 198-2004, hasn't yet decided which side he'll swing from tonight. StatCorner's park factors suggest slugging righty would be better, though Beltran has crushed it from both sides this season (.520 slugging percentage and five homers as a right-handed hitter, .550 slugging and 15 HR as a lefty). Beltran might want his BP pitcher to speed it up tonight, as he has hit 14 of his 20 homers against "hard" pitches (fastballs, sinkers and cutters).

Pitch location of Beltran's HRs

Carlos Gonzalez

Home Runs: 17

CarGo doesn't fit the "pull everything in sight" power hitter archetype, hitting eight of his home runs to center field in 2012.  He's extremely adept at clearing the fence on pitches thrown to the outside portion of the plate:

Pitch location of Gonzalez's HRs

Thirteen of his 17 homers have come on pitches thrown away. Gonzalez's middle field power might not serve him especially well at Kauffman Stadium, however, considering that the center field fence is 410 feet from home plate and the power allies are 387 feet.

Matt Kemp

Home Runs: 12

Kemp, on the DL twice this season for left hamstring trouble and making his first appearance on a big league field since late May,  nonetheless ranks in the top 20 among MLB hitters with nine home runs cracked against fastballs. He has spread his homers around, too, going oppo seven times, hitting four to center field and pulling just one ball over the fence this season. He hit seven opposite-field home runs total in 2011.

Pitch location of Kemp's HRs

Andrew McCutchen

Home Runs: 18

'Cutch has made a habit of providing souvenirs for bleacher creatures in all parts of the park this season, blasting six home runs to the opposite field, four to center and eight to the pull side. He has done most of that damage against fastballs, with 13 of his 18 home runs coming against the heat. Pitchers have thrown McCutchen a heater in the strike zone nearly 57 percent of the time despite his fastball mastery, well above the 51-52 percent league average.

Pitch location of McCutchen's HRs

Tuesday
Apr192011

Did Carlos Gonzalez Lose Bat Speed?

In 2010, Carlos Gonzalez contended for the NL triple crown and the MVP award.  His .336 batting average led the NL.  He hit fastballs and off-speed pitches well:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on off-speed pitches, 2010.Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2010.Notice that huge hole in the middle of the strike zone on fastballs.  Carlos handled down fine, he handled up and away fine, but throw a fastball down the middle and it gave him problems.  Pitchers have changed their approach to him early in 2011.  In 2010, they concentrated fastballs up and away:

Carlos Gonzalez, fastball location, 2010.In 2011, the concentration of pitches is more toward the middle of the plate and down:

Carlos Gonzalez, fastball location, 2011.Look at that big gob of red smack in the middle of the strike zone.  Major league hitters are supposed to pound that pitch, but Carlos is not doing well with it:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2011.Compare that to how he smacks off-speed pitches:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on off-speed pitches, 2011.Gonzalez doesn't strike out much on the fastball compare to the change up and slider, but teams will take him putting fastballs in play for a low average all day long.

So is this a real weakness?  The good news for Rockies fans is that Carlos showed big swings against the fastball in 2010:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2010 timeline.The physical adjustment from going from high altitude to low altitude parks may take a toll on Gonzalez during a season.  This poor start on fastballs may just mean he needs to make an adjustment.  If he flipped this graph in 2011, he would end up doing quite well.

Thursday
Feb172011

Colorado Rockies' Lucky CarGo

Over at Purple Row, Bryan Kilpatrick recently wrote about expectations for Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in 2011.  CarGo's first full season in the majors was a tremendous success as he hit .336/.376/.598 and finished in the top 10 in wOBA.  But hitting at Coors probably inflated his overall numbers as his home/road splits indicate.  Kilpatrick notes that CarGo was still above average when compared to how the rest of the league performed away from home.

But what really interested me was Cargo's .384 BABIP last season (top 1% in the majors), indicating he had a fair amount of luck at the plate.  Kilpatrick argues that Gonzalez has "the hit tools necessary to avoid a complete statistical plunge due to BABIP regression." 

I took a look at his pitch splits and found that CarGo had a .417 BABIP versus fastballs, the highest in all of baseball last season.

2010 Top 10 BABIP vs. Fastballs

On average, half the pitches a batter will see in a given season will be fastballs.  I'd argue that CarGo's very high BABIP on fastballs is likely due for serious regression; however, he also managed a 26.6 LD% vs. fastballs last season, and his overall LD% has been climbing every year.  If CarGO continues to square up fastballs as he's been doing, his overall line might not take such a hit when(if?) that BABIP drops.