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Entries in Hideki Matsui (3)


Matsui Godzilla Again

Hideki Matsui of the Oakland Athletics found his stroke after the all-star break.   After a 4 for 6 on Thursday, he's hitting .432 after a .209 first half.  His pitch selection improved, as you can see in his swing rate.

Early in the season, Matsui seemed to chase pitches up and in:

Hideki Matsui, swing rate, 1st half of 2011.Note how his swing zone is vertical, as if pitchers were working him up the ladder.  The up and in area of the strike zone indicates he was swinging at pitches that were jamming him.  He wasn't making great contact:

Hideki Matsui, contact rate, 1st half of 2011.When he swung at pitches in the middle of the zone, he often missed them.

His swing selection became more horizontal in the second half:

Hideki Matsui, swing rate, 2nd half of 2011.He's now picking a level, and staying in that zone, rather than following pitches up.  His contact rate improved:

Hideki Matsui, contact rate, 2nd half of 2011.He was missing on 18% of his swings before the All-Star break, only 10% after.  Matsui swings at better pitches, makes better contact, and his batting average is reaping the benefits.


Mike Napoli's Month

Mike Napoli (TEX) has been the most productive hitter in the last month of baseball.  His .567 wOBA since July 6th leads the majors and is 85 points better Hideki Matsui (OAK) in second place on the list.

(Click to enlarge)
Over that span, Napoli has drilled 8 home runs and 7 doubles, while walking 8 times in 80 PA.  His 11.1% HR rate also leads all players since July 6th.  His HR/FB rate of 29.6% is third behind only Marlins' Mike Stanton (39.1%) and Rays' Ben Zobrist (30.0%).


Don't Lowball Me!

(2011 data through June 7th)

For purposes of this list, we define low ball as any pitch that located below a line 6 inches above the bottom of the PitchFX strike zone, even if it was outside of the actual strike zone (for example, balls in the dirt or pitches way inside are included if they were below the line).

One thing stands out: 9 of the top 25 worst hitters of low pitches this season are catchers.  Is this due to catchers struggling to bend down to hit the low pitch as a result of knee issues?  Hideki Matsui (OAK) also makes the current list and his knee issues are well documented. 

At the end of 2010, only 4 catchers made the list (min. 100 plate appearances decided on a low pitch).  But if we take all data from 2009 to the present with a minimum of 150 plate appearances decided on a low pitch, 10 catchers are in the Top 25.  It's possible that with last season being the "Year of the Pitcher," more non-catchers flooded the top of this list, with offense down across the board.  Or it could simply be that catchers overall tend to be among the weaker hitters in the league.  Or maybe 2010 was just be an outlier.

As much as I'd like to speculate that catchers have trouble hitting low pitches as a result of knee problems, the current 2011 list is most likely a product of a small sample size.  Nonetheless, we'll keep an eye on how the list changes throughout the season.