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Entries in Detroit Tigers (64)


Alburquerque's Devestating Slider

Al Alburquerque (DET) is winning high praise after three no-hit innings Saturday night.  Jim Leyland described his slider as electric, and batters have yet to earn a hit off the pitch while striking out eleven times in thirteen at bats on the pitch.

Al throws his slider as much as the fastball, and these heat maps show why the pitch is so good:

Al Alburquerque, fastball and slider frequency, 2011.The mass in the middle represents the fastball.  The other mass in the lower corner of the catcher's right hand is the slider.  Here's what the movement looks like:

Al Alburquerque, fastball and slider movement, 2011.The fastball comes in with the expected drop, and moves to the catcher's left a bit.  The slider comes in with a big drop and moves the opposite way.  So if Alburquerque gets a hitter used to the fastball, the slider changes everything the hitter learned.

Yet, in looking at his pitch log, Al sometimes just comes after batters with the slider.  The last batter he faced on Saturday was Asdrubal Cabrerra, and he attacked him with sliders, but moved them all over the strike zone.  He even pulled the string on the last two, dropping them from 86 to 84 MPH.  We'll see how batters adjust to the pitch as the season progresses.


Scherzer's Slider

In the middle of May 2010, Max Scherzer (DET) discovered a flaw in his delivery while watching video.  Before he could tell the Tigers staff, he was demoted to the minor leagues, where he fixed the flaw. When Max returned two week later he started amassing high strikeout totals.  What's changed the most for Scherzer since his return is the slider.

Max Scherzer's slider, location and movement, 2008-May 14, 2010.Note that the location of his slider (on the left) is mostly in the strike zone.  It's a hittable pitch.  Since returning from the minor league assignment, he gets the slider down more.

Max Scherzer's slider, location and movement, since May 30, 2010.Scherzer now throws the pitch out of the strike zone frequently.  You'll notice on the movement, the vertical component often goes lower than the previously.  The result is a very good .282 wOBA on the pitch before the he fixed flaw dropped to an excellent .207.  In addition  he now gets a 29.6% strikeout rate with the pitch as compared to 20.5% before.  Max's slider is now a great out pitch.


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.