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Entries in Fastballs (15)


Inside Heat Hurting Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez established himself as one of the game's great hitters by using his smooth, compact stroke to lash outer-half pitches to the opposite field. In fact, no active player this side of Jim Thome has a higher slugging percentage on outer-half offerings dating back to 2008 (.545). Against outer-half fastballs, Gonzalez has a .682 slugging percentage.  

Perhaps tired of being victimized by Gonzalez's outer-half prowess, pitchers have busted him inside much more this year. That's especially the case with fastballs. Gonzalez hasn't been able to adjust to all the inside heat so far, and his power numbers are suffering.

Check out pitchers' fastball location versus Gonzalez in 2011, and then this season:

Pitchers' fastball location vs. Gonzalez, 2011Pitchers' fastball location vs. Gonzalez, 2012

Opponents threw inside fastballs to Gonzalez 33 percent of the time in 2011, but that has jumped up to 43 percent in 2012. That's the second-highest percentage of inside fastballs seen by a lefty batter this season, behind only Atlanta's Jason Heyward. And loud contact for Gonzalez against inside heat has been about as common as quiet nights in the Boston media. Here's his slugging percentage vs. inside fastballs last season, and in 2012:





Gonzalez slugged .531 against inside fastballs in 2011, about 90 points above the MLB average. That has been cut in half in 2012. He's got one of the 20 lowest slugging percentages against inside heat this year:

Lowest slugging percentage vs. inside fastballs, 2012

BatterSlugging Pct.
Justin Morneau .091
Justin Smoak .125
Mike Moustakas .143
Kendrys Morales .154
Casey Kotchman .160
Carlos Santana .188
Kyle Seager .190
David DeJesus .192
Cameron Maybin .200
Cliff Pennington .214
Jimmy Rollins .222
Gordon Beckham .229
Brian McCann .233
Jason Kipnis .233
Miguel Montero .235
Jose Tabata .240
Dayan Viciedo .244
Jamey Carroll .250
Adrian Gonzalez .266
Justin Upton .268


Gonzalez's woes against inside fastballs go a long way toward explaining his 2012 power outage (he's slugging just .417 this season, compared to .548 during his first year with the Red Sox). Pitchers have adjusted their game plan against him, preferring to tie him up inside instead of watch him lace outside pitches off the Green Monster. Now, it's up to Gonzalez to counter-punch.


April Fastballs

All data from start of season through April 30th, 2012

All data from start of season through April 30th, 2012Ted Lilly might not have the most explosive fastball (average 2012 velocity: 87.2 mph - bottom 5% of the league), but he's used it quite effectively. He's given up just 2 hits in 26 AB determined by it.  All ten flyballs have been converted into outs, as have two of the four line drives.  In his previous three seasons, Lilly's fastball has had a .248 fly ball average and a .673 line drive average. It's safe to say his current rate is unsustainable.


Matt Kemp's Beast Mode vs. Fastballs

While Matt Kemp's league leading (and eye pooping) .942 slugging percentage for 2012 is impressive, the L.A. Dodger centerfielder has been consistently crushing it for more than a year now.  Outside of Kemp, no player in the top five 2012 slugging percentage ranking is even in the top ten this season.  In fact, of the other players in the top five from last year (Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder), only Braun and Cabrera are in the top 25, and just barely at 24th and 25th place respectively.

Part of the reason why Kemp's power numbers are so incredible is what he's done with fastballs.  Sixteen of Kemp's 31 hits have come off fastballs this season, and seven of his ten home runs as well.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Kemp has just been ruthless against fastballs:

All data from start of 2011 to April 26th, 2012.Kemp is currently seeing 44.2% fastballs, which is actually up from 43.0% in 2011; league average for a hitter since 2011 is 46.9%.  Expect pitchers to start throwing Kemp fewer heaters as the season wears on.