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Entries in Carlos Lee (2)

Thursday
Jul052012

Gaby Sanchez on the Outside

The Miami Marlins, trying to stay in the Wild Card chase as a run at the NL East title looks about as likely as Ozzie Guillen giving up cursing, added Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros in exchange for prospects Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen. While the 36-year-old Lee is no longer the hard-hitting El Caballo of years past (he's got a 103 OPS+ this year), the Marlins at least hope he can avoid turning in the sort of utterly disastrous performance that is Gaby Sanchez's 2012 season.

Sanchez posted a combined 111 OPS+ during his first two years as a starter in the majors, but the 28-year-old has tanked to the tune of a 49 OPS+ in a little less than 200 plate appearances this year. If the former Miami Hurricane now on the outs with the club that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft is going to re-establish himself as a big leaguer, he'll have to start making louder contact on the outer half of the plate.

Sanchez has never been a big slugger on outer-half pitches, but he at least avoided getting the bat knocked out of his hands when pitchers threw outside in 2010-11:

Sanchez's slugging percentage by pitch location, 2010-11

He slugged .393 against pitches thrown on the outer half, slightly above the .384 big league average. But in 2012, the newest and least happy member of the New Orleans Zephyrs has made next to no hard contact on the outer half:

Sanchez's slugging percentage by pitch location, 2012

Sanchez is slugging .171 on the outer half this season. That's the worst mark in the game among batters with at least 150 plate appearances and nearly 40 points lower than the next-worst hitter, Minnesota's Alexi Casilla. Opponents have keyed in on Sanchez's outside slugging woes, locating 58 percent of their pitches on the outer half and doing so 53 percent of the time in 2010-11.

Is Lee a real upgrade over Sanchez? Maybe. ZiPS projects Lee to top Sanchez in OPS slightly during the rest of the 2012 season (.761 for Lee, .735 for Sanchez). If you think Sanchez's issues on the outer half will persist, the trade is a decent stopgap that comes with cash to pay Lee's salary and no premium farm talent surrendered. If you think Sanchez's work in 2010-11 is more indicative of his talent level, it's more a case of adding a big name than a big upgrade at first base.

Tuesday
Sep202011

Two-Strike Survivors

When a hitter gets two strikes against him, odds are he's toast. The league average Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) with two strikes is just .236, compared to .314 overall in 2011. Put another way, a hitter turns into a Tsuyoshi Nishioka clone when in the pitcher's clutches. But some batters have managed to wiggle out of those two-strike situations pretty often. Here's a look at the 10 batters with the highest wOBAs in two-strike counts:


1. Mike Napoli, .386

2. David Ortiz, .367

3. Jose Bautista, .348

4. Miguel Cabrera, .348

5. Jacoby Ellsbury, .339

6. Marco Scutaro, .337

7. Prince Fielder, .336

8. Carlos Lee, .335

9. Troy Tulowitzki, .322

10. Curtis Granderson, .322

 Not surprisingly, the best two-strike hitters list includes some of the best hitters in the game overall. Granderson has gone deep a major league-leading 20 times in two-strike counts this season. Bautista (14), Ortiz (13), Napoli (11), Cabrera (11) and Ellsbury (10) have also hit double-digit homers with two strikes.

If there's a common thread among these guys, it's that they do a better job than most of not chasing pitches off the plate. When hitters have less than two strikes against them, they're fairly selective:

League average swing rate by pitch location with less than two strikes

Batters swing about 39 percent of the time overall with less than two strikes, chasing 22 percent of pitches out of the zone. With two strikes, however....

      

League average swing rate by pitch location with two strikes

..Hitters swing 61 percent of the time, including 39 percent of the time on out-of-zone pitches. But, with the exception of Fielder, our two-strike survivors have chase rates below the league average:

Napoli: 38% chase rate with 2 strikes

Ortiz: 37%

Bautista: 35%

Cabrera: 36%

Ellsbury: 25%

Scutaro: 38%

Fielder: 48%

Lee: 37%

Tulowitzki: 34%

Granderson: 40%

As is the case in other counts, it appears that one of the keys to success with two strikes is learning to lay off pitches at the eyes and the ankles. Or, be Prince Fielder. Either will work just fine.