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Entries in Jacoby Ellsbury (13)


Jacoby Ellsbury Tater Tidbits

 With three more clouts yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury has now hit more home runs during the 2011 season (31) than he hit in the minor and major leagues combined from 2005-2010 (30). Here are some tidbits on Ellsbury's tater binge this year.

- Ellsbury has hit 12 homers apiece in hitter's and pitcher's counts, and seven in even counts.

- The lefty hitter is the anti-Adrian Gonzalez, pulling 25 of his homers to right field, going deep to center four times and going the opposite way twice.

- Ellsbury is doing almost all of his damage on pitches below the letters. Just one home run has been on a pitch located high in the strike zone, compared to 21 on pitches located in the middle and nine thrown low:

Pitch location of Ellsbury's HRs, 2011

- Thirty of his dingers have been on pitches located within the strike zone.

- Fifteen of Ellsbury's homers have come at Fenway, and 16 have come on the road.

- Right-handed pitchers have been victimized 26 times, and leties five times.

- Here's a breakdown of how many homers Ellsbury has hit aganst each pitch type:

21 fastballs/sinkers

5 changeups/splitters

5 sliders/cutters

- Ellsbury has saved his most prodigious slugging for September, averaging a season-best 393 feet on his seven homers this month. He averaged 375 feet on his round-trippers from April-August.

 - Ellsbury's 31 shots place him fifth all-time among Red Sox center fielders, according to Baseball-Reference. Here's the rest of the top five:

1. Tony Armas, 43 (1984)

2. Fred Lynn, 39 (1979)

3. Armas, 36 (1983)

4. Carl Everett, 34 (2000)

5. Ellsbury, 31 (2011)

- Measured by OPS+, Ellsbury's big homer season (146 OPS+) ranks ahead of those of Armas (85 in '83, 121 in '84) and Everett (135), but well behind Lynn (176).



Two-Strike Survivors

When a hitter gets two strikes against him, odds are he's toast. The league average Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) with two strikes is just .236, compared to .314 overall in 2011. Put another way, a hitter turns into a Tsuyoshi Nishioka clone when in the pitcher's clutches. But some batters have managed to wiggle out of those two-strike situations pretty often. Here's a look at the 10 batters with the highest wOBAs in two-strike counts:

1. Mike Napoli, .386

2. David Ortiz, .367

3. Jose Bautista, .348

4. Miguel Cabrera, .348

5. Jacoby Ellsbury, .339

6. Marco Scutaro, .337

7. Prince Fielder, .336

8. Carlos Lee, .335

9. Troy Tulowitzki, .322

10. Curtis Granderson, .322

 Not surprisingly, the best two-strike hitters list includes some of the best hitters in the game overall. Granderson has gone deep a major league-leading 20 times in two-strike counts this season. Bautista (14), Ortiz (13), Napoli (11), Cabrera (11) and Ellsbury (10) have also hit double-digit homers with two strikes.

If there's a common thread among these guys, it's that they do a better job than most of not chasing pitches off the plate. When hitters have less than two strikes against them, they're fairly selective:

League average swing rate by pitch location with less than two strikes

Batters swing about 39 percent of the time overall with less than two strikes, chasing 22 percent of pitches out of the zone. With two strikes, however....


League average swing rate by pitch location with two strikes

..Hitters swing 61 percent of the time, including 39 percent of the time on out-of-zone pitches. But, with the exception of Fielder, our two-strike survivors have chase rates below the league average:

Napoli: 38% chase rate with 2 strikes

Ortiz: 37%

Bautista: 35%

Cabrera: 36%

Ellsbury: 25%

Scutaro: 38%

Fielder: 48%

Lee: 37%

Tulowitzki: 34%

Granderson: 40%

As is the case in other counts, it appears that one of the keys to success with two strikes is learning to lay off pitches at the eyes and the ankles. Or, be Prince Fielder. Either will work just fine.


Ellsbury Still Getting Stronger

Three months ago I postulated that Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox became stronger due to rehabilitating his injury from the previous season.  It appears the increase in strength did not abate.  Jacoby started a power tear on July 20, and it continues through his current 18 game hitting streak.  The following graph shows how his fly ball distance and slugging on those fly balls changed during the current season:

Jacoby Ellsbury, fly balls 2011, distance and in play slugging.You could draw a very nice upward sloping line showing how Ellsbury's fly balls have pretty steadily carried farther throughout  the year.  Note that early in the season, the fly balls didn't carry as much, but his slugging percentage was still good as many of those fell for doubles.  Starting on the 20th, he hit the tipping point where the long hits went a little further and started landing in the seats.

You can also see him getting stronger in his slugging heat maps (all balls in play):

Jacoby Ellsbury, in play slugging, 2011 season through July 19th.Jacoby Ellsbury, in play slugging, 2011 season since July 20th.He's expanded the area where he drives the ball.  Whatever exercises he's doing, the whole Red Sox team should adopt them.