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Entries in Colby Lewis (2)

Thursday
Oct202011

Fly Ball-Slanted Lewis Should Like Busch III

When Colby Lewis is on the mound, most of the action is going to take place in the air. The Rangers right-hander has the fourth-highest fly ball rate (49.4 percent) among starting pitchers. Those lofted pitches often get Lewis in trouble, as he has served up 38 home runs in 212 innings pitched (1.61 per nine frames). Luckily for Lewis, his Game Two start against St. Louis will take place in homer-hating Busch Stadium.

Lewis' fly ball-centric approach doesn't work well at Rangers Ballpark, which, according to StatCorner, increases home run production by 19 percent for left-handed hitters and 14 percent for righties. But Busch III decreases homers by 18 percent for lefty batters and 26 percent for righties. Fly balls that lead to souvenir scrums in Texas are just harmless outs in St. Louis.

The majority of Lewis' homers have been hit on fastballs (18) and cutters (seven), and of those 25 shots, 15 were blasted at Arlington. Lewis' fastball and cutter get smoked at home, but those pitches are much more effective in friendlier confines on the road. In home starts, Lewis has allowed a combined .515 slugging percentage on fastballs and cutters. On the road, hitters have slugged .394 against those pitches.

In addition to park effects, part of the reason for that slugging discrepancy appears to be pitch location. Lewis does a better job of keeping his fastball and cutter down in the zone when he's sporting away grays.

At home, Lewis has thrown 35 percent of his fastballs and cutters up in the zone:

Location of Lewis' fastballs and cutters in home games, 2011Batters pulverize those belt-high pitches at Arlington, slugging a whopping .716 on high heaters and cutters:

In-play slugging percentage on Lewis' fastballs and cutters in home games, 2011On the road, Lewis has thrown slightly under 31 percent of his fastballs and cutters high in the zone: 

Location of Lewis' fastballs and cutters in away games, 2011And when Lewis does leave a fastball or cutter high in the zone in a road start, it doesn't hurt him near as much as in hitter-happy Rangers Ballpark. Opponents are slugging a modest .375 on Lewis' high fastballs and cutters when he's on the road:

In-play slugging percentage on Lewis' fastballs and cutters in away games, 2011

Lewis has been an immense bargain since he returned stateside, providing about seven Wins Above Replacement while earning a little over $5 million and pitching exceptionally in the playoffs (a 2.37 ERA in 38 combined innings in 2010-2011). But as an extreme fly ball pitcher, he's more effective outside of Texas. By lining up Lewis so that he starts on the road (coincidence or not, he started away games against Tampa Bay and Detroit), Texas maximizes the chances that he gives them five strong innings before the club call upon a deep, dominant bullpen.

Sunday
Aug282011

Lewis's Home Field Disadvantage

Colby Lewis of the Texas Rangers allowed twice as many home runs at home than on the road so far in 2011.  Is the park really that much of a disadvantage to Lewis, or does his pitching approach hurt him there.

What's clear is that balls travel farther in Texas.  The following graph shows his distribution of fly balls by distance on the road:

Colby Lewis, fly ball distance and slugging percentage, away games, 2011.

Note that his fly ball distance peaks at around 260 feet and falls off from there.  Note, also, that on the road even his deep fly balls don't always produce that much power.

At home, things look a little different.

Colby Lewis, fly ball distance and slugging percentage, home games, 2011.There's a huge peak at 330 feet, and the number of fly balls from 360 to 400 feet is much higher than on the road.  In addition, those long flies in Arlington produce a ton of power.  Not many of those get caught.

The park effect also shows up in where batters connect for home runs in the strike zone.  In away games, they tend to take pitches down out of the park:

Cobly Lewis, pitch frequency on HR, away games, 2011.At home, homers come on higher pitches:

Cobly Lewis, pitch frequency on HR, home games, 2011.At home, 14 of his 20 home runs allowed came on various fastballs.  On the road, five of his ten home runs came on off-speed pitches.  He allowed three home runs on change ups on the road, none at home.  It seems that at home, the high fastballs carry better than on the road.  His hard pitches, which produce a .201/.259/.341 slash line away land him a .264/.331/.608 line at home.  It's the stadium, not the pitcher.