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Entries in Chicago Cubs (33)


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.


Soriano Catching Up to the Fastball

Alfonso Soriano (CHN) finished April tied for the Major League lead in home runs with ten.  Although his other batting stats are weak, he's slugging like he did prior to the 2009 season.  Soriano is once again able to catch up to the fastball:


Alfonso Soriano hitting against fastballs
SeasonAverage SpeedwOBASlugging Pct.
2008 91.0 .441 .650
2009 90.0 .392 .553
2010 91.2 .379 .548
2011 90.8 .488 .781


Sorinao's bat speed might have returned, but in 2011 it looks like pitchers are helping him with their fastballs.  In the two down years, the fastballs Alfonso saw tended to be down and away or up and in:

Alfonso Soriano, fastball pitch frequency, 2009-2010.There was a good reason for this pattern, as Soriano's power tended to be up and way and down and in:

Alfonso Soriano, in play slugging percentage on fastballs, 2009-2010.So far this season, Alfonso has seen fastballs up:

Alfonso Soriano, fastball pitch frequency, 2011.

And he's killing the high pitch.

Alfonso Soriano, in play slugging percentage on fastballs, 2011.He's catching up to the high and tight pitch, which says to me he improved his bat speed.  He's even slugging better on the few down and away fastballs he's seen.  The change in pitching pattern hasn't worked, as Soriano proved up to the task of smacking fastballs again.


Best Hitters on Inside Pitches

Top MLB Hitters on Inside Pitches
(Click to enlarge)

Interesting notes: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) is actually making less contact on inside pitches compared to his three previous seasons (72.2% to 80.9%.)  However, he's yet to strike out on an inside pitch this season.  In his three previous seasons, 19.3% of his plate appearances decided on an inside pitch were strike outs.
Stephen Drew's (ARZ) 2010 batting average on inside pitches ranked in the bottom half of the league; his .636 currently ranks second this season.
Ten of Matt Kemp's(LAD) thirty-one HRs since the beginning of 2010 have come on inside pitches.
Brandon Inge (DET) is swinging at 13.6% fewer inside pitches compared to last season; his .377 BAbip on inside pitches since 2008 is 7th best in all of baseball.
Of Starlin Castro's (CHC) 29 hits this season, 14 have come on inside pitches, including one HR, one triple, and three doubles.