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Entries in Chicago White Sox (34)

Tuesday
Mar292011

Konerko Clobbering the Change

Paul Konerko was one of the best changeup hitters in the game last season, batting .324 and slugging .647 against it.  This is a fairly significant rise over his .212 average and .423 slugging percentage off changeups from 2008 to 2009.  What's most interesting is the shift in his power zones on changeups.

Paul Konerko vs. Changeups
(Click to enlarge)

Prior to last season, Konerko was only producing power on outside changeups, and could do nothing against it on the inside half of the plate. However, he began to tee up on changeups coming inside in 2010.  Whether it came from a lefty or righty made no difference.  His high overall slugging percentage versus changeups was a result of a .654 SLG% off lefties and a .643 SLG% off righties throwing the pitch.

The increase in power was not without a drawback.  Konerko's strike out rate increased 7.5% on changeups.  Compare his 2010 SLG% heat map above with his contact rate below:

Paul Konerko vs. Changeups
(Click to enlarge)

While Konerko didn't make great contact on changeups dipping down in the zone, his slugging heat map indicates that the ones he did connect on, particularly inside, he made the most of.

Sunday
Mar132011

Chicago's Power Closer

With Matt Thornton signing a new deal with the White Sox, it's likely he'll be the team's closer for the next few years.  Thornton is pure fastball-slider reliever.  He threw a fastball 87.4 percent of the time last season, using his slider mostly when ahead in the count.

Thornton gets a lot of velocity on his fastball, averaging 96.1 MPH last season, tops among all lefties.  But the pitch also moves quite a bit.  In 2010, his fastball averaged 5.7 feet per second of horizontal movement as it crossed the plate, good for 2nd among all lefties.

Thornton's only area of concern may be right handed batters.  While righties only produced a .271 wOBA against Thornton last year, they had a 72.2 percent contact rate against his fastball, about 10% higher than lefties.  Now that the league has seen his premier fastball, Thornton will have to start making adjustments in order to keep batters off their game.  Look for him to start mixing in the slider a bit more in the closer's role this season.

Tuesday
Feb222011

Adam Dunn and Pitch Velocity

Over at SBNation, Rob Neyer takes a look at a few questions facing the Chicago White Sox going into this season.  He noted that the acquisition of Adam Dunn fills a big hole at DH for the Sox.  Dunn is a tremendous power hitter who strikes out a ton, but when he makes contact, he can put the ball in orbit.  His 35.7% K-rate was the second worst in the majors last year, while his .536 slugging percentage was 10th best.

Dunn, like many left handed power hitters, does well against fastballs.

Adam Dunn, 2008-10

Over the last 3 years, Dunn's contact rate against fastballs was 19.7% better than against off-speed pitches.  As indicated above, Dunn's swing rate increases against pitches with more velocity.  And his contact and slugging percentage follow.  That's a sign of a hitter who knows what he likes, and a good sign for the Chicago White Sox.