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Entries in Home Run Derby (5)

Monday
Jul092012

HR Derby Tidbits: AL Edition

Team Cano (Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, Mark Trumbo) takes on Team Kemp (Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen) tonight at Kauffman Stadium in the 2012 Home Run Derby (8 PM EST, ESPN). While the Royals' home digs aren't particularly friendly to power hitters during regular games, decreasing homers hits by 27 percent for lefties and 15 percent for righties according to StatCorner, these guys should have little trouble reaching the waterfalls beyond the outfield fences. Here's a closer look at the shots hit by Team Cano in 2012.

Jose Bautista

Home Runs: 27

Bautista is all about the pull power: 22 of his 27 bombs have screamed down the left field line, with just one shot going to the opposite field. That Bautista is the game's pre-eminent pull hitter is remarkable considering how loathe pitchers are to give him something inside. Just 23 percent of the pitches Bautista has seen have been thrown inside, compared to the 28-29 percent MLB average. That means he's hitting pull-side homers on pitches thrown on the outer half:

Pitch location of Bautista's HRs

Bautista has his 16 of his bombs on outer-half pitches this season.  

Robinson Cano

Home Runs: 20

While not quite Bautista-like, Cano has also pulled the vast majority of his homers this season (14 of 20). Ten of those 13 pulled home runs have come at home -- Yankee Stadium's short right field porch is a pull hitter's best friend. Cano has popped an equal number of homers this season against "hard" pitches (fastballs, cutters and sinkers) and "soft" stuff (changeups, curveballs and sliders). He likes the ball below the letters, hitting three-quarters of his homers on pitches thrown low or to the middle of the zone:

Pitch location of Cano's HR

Prince Fielder 

Home Runs: 15

Continuing the pull-happy theme, Fielder has ripped 12 of his 15 home runs into the right field stands. Prince has actually hit the majority of his homers on "soft" pitches, going yard nine times combined against breaking and off-speed stuff. Just over half of his home runs have come on pitches thrown around his considerable belt:

Pitch location of Fielder's HRs

Mark Trumbo

Home Runs: 22

Trumbo has distributed his homers a little differently than the rest of Team Cano, hitting 14 to the pull side, seven to center field and one to the opposite side. If the regular season is any indication, don't look for Trumbo to take many pitches tonight. He's tied with Cano and a few others for the second-most home runs hit on the first pitch this season, with five. Trumbo likes it when pitchers challenge him inside, as 15 of his homers have come on inner-half offerings:

Pitch location of Trumbo's HRs 

Tuesday
Jul122011

Robinson Cano and the Long Ball

New York Yankee Robinson Cano put on quite a show last night as he outdueled Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) in the final round of the HR Derby, winning it with 32 total HRs.  His 12 homers in the final round set a record for the derby.

Playing for the Yankees, a team that has big sluggers like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Cano's power sometimes gets short shrift.  But after last night, it will be hard for anyone to ignore his long ball proclivity.

Cano seemed more than comfortable having his father, Jose Cano, throw to him last night.  While BP pitchers usually soft toss fastballs one after another, one wonders if Cano could have produced even more HRs last night if he was facing sliders.

Since 2009, Robinson Cano has hit more HRs off sliders than any AL batter with 21, and second behind fellow HR Derby contestant and former derby winner Prince Fielder (MIL), who has 23.  Those 21 homers tie the number he has hit off fastballs in that same span of time.  His 8.0 HR% on sliders (highest among any pitches he has seen since 2009) ranks 5th in baseball behind Jason Giambi (9.1%), Russell Branyan (9.0%), Prince Fielder (8.3%), and Hideki Matsui (8.3%).

Since the 2010 All-Star Break, Cano has hit 11 HRs off sliders, best in the league.  He has a 27.5% HR/FB rate on sliders, ranking him in the top 4% of the league.    And his 11.0 HR% on sliders in that time is best among all major league hitters, even Jose Bautista (10.4 HR%).

If Cano is looking to top last night's performance in next year's home run derby, perhaps Jose will break out the slider in Kansas City.

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