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Entries in Jay Bruce (3)


Can Lefty-Killer Liriano Tame Cincinnati's Lineup?

The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, currently holding the National League's two Wild Card spots and still chasing the St. Louis Cardinals for NL Central supremacy, begin a pivotal series tonight at PNC Park. The Bucs' ace and the winter's biggest free agent bargain, Francisco Liriano, will square off against a Cincy lineup led by on-base machines Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto and slugger Jay Bruce.

The Reds' three key lefty bats could be in for a long night against Liriano, who is mowing down fellow southpaws like no other starting pitcher in major league history. He's holding them to a .319 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 2013, lowest ever for a lefty pitcher facing at least 100 lefty batters in a season. The big league average in lefty-versus lefty situations is just .645. Tonight's game could come down to whether Choo, Votto and Bruce can lay off Liriano's slider.

No National League starter this side of Madison Bumgarner throws his slider as often as Liriano (36% overall), and he relies on that high-80s missile even more against lefties (42%). He locates his slider off the outside corner to left-handers, just close enough to the edges that hitters feel compelled to swing once Liriano has bullied them into a pitcher's count.

Pitch location of Liriano's slider vs. lefties, 2013

Lefty hitters can't resist those tantalizingly close sliders, chasing them out of the strike zone 43% of the time. Liriano's chase rate with his slider against lefties is seventh-highest among starters, comfortably topping the 36% average and beating the likes of Clayton Kershaw (41%), Derek Holland (37%) and Chris Sale (35%).

Lefty hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Liriano's slider, 2013

Thanks to such an expanded strike zone, Liriano has a .076 opponent slugging percentage when he unleashes a slider to a lefty batter. That's best in the bigs and over 200 points below the MLB lefty-on-lefty average (.285).

So, how do the Reds' left-handers match up against the game's ultimate lefty hit man? Votto and Bruce probably aren't sweating Liriano. Choo, by contrast, must be drenched.

Votto has handled same-handed pitching over the past three seasons, posting a .908 OPS in 573 plate appearances against lefties. In fact, no qualified lefty hitter has a higher OPS against lefty pitching over that time frame. He's nearly platoon-proof in part because his Gandhi-like discipline extends to those tempting lefty sliders. Votto has chased just 28% of the time since the start of the 2011 season. Votto's patient approach has helped him slug a respectable .364 versus lefty sliders.

Bruce hasn't been shut down by lefties, either (.770 OPS in 602 PA). While he's much more of a free swinger than Votto overall -- who isn't? -- Bruce has chased lefty sliders off the plate 29% of the time. He's slugging .327 versus lefty sliders from 2011-13.

And then there's Choo. Maybe he wears that batting helmet with double ear flaps because he's wistfully thinking about taking up switch-hitting: Choo has a .617 OPS versus same-handed pitching in 569 PA from '11 to '13. He also shows good discipline versus lefty sliders (29% chase rate), he just can't hit them (.138 slugging percentage). Might be a good night for Choo to come down with a sudden case of Liriano-itis.


Jay Bruce and Lefty Versus Lefty Homers

Sunday, as the Reds completed their sweep of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce hit a pair of homers.

So what, you ask?

I mean Bruce has had 14 multi-homer games in his career. Well to start with, the two homers were off Clayton Kershaw. Since 2008, Kershaw has only had 12 multi-homer games. I'm not talking about games in which a batter has hit two homers off of him, I mean the whole damn team.

  • On July 21, 2013 - Kershaw allowed two homers, both to Jayson Werth.
  • On May 2, 2012 - Kershaw allowed three homers, two to Carlos Gonzalez.
  • On August 6, 2010 - Kershaw allowed two homers, both to Adam Dunn.

And that's the end of that list. Kershaw has allowed 73 homers in his career and only 20 have been to 13 different lefties.

So Jay Bruce is in pretty select company, just against Kershaw only.

But let's expand Bruce's ability to go deep against lefties.

2013 Leading lefty HR hitters vs. lefties

2013 - Leading lefties vs. lefties HR hitters
Chris Davis (BAL)89208189131166--
Kyle Seager (SEA)97234218101447--
Jay Bruce (CIN)88204188101152--
Joey Votto (CIN)8922118593352--
Prince Fielder (DET)9322620082038--
Robinson Cano (NYY)10423420972041--
Anthony Rizzo (CHC)9519316772241--
Alex Gordon (KC)8920518671239--

2012 Leading lefty HR hitters vs. lefties

2012 - Lefties vs Lefty Homers
Adam Dunn (CWS)104215183152986
Curtis Granderson (NYY)106247216142679
Josh Reddick (OAK)105239224121156
Jay Bruce (CIN)89194169111856
Adam LaRoche (WSH)94188168111551
Josh Hamilton (TEX)85192175101154
Michael Saunders (SEA)9219218081244
Ike Davis (NYM)9017816781150
Kyle Seager (SEA)10223321571244
Jason Kubel (ARI)9220318471560
Jason Heyward (ATL)11825723771971
Freddie Freeman (ATL)11425722872267
Chris Davis (BAL)711181137433

Lefty vs Lefty Home Runs 2010-13

Bruce has hit more home runs off left-handed pitchers (44) than any other left-handed batter since the 2010 season.
2010-13 Lefty vs Lefties Homers
Jay Bruce (CIN)3657736914465211.249.316.486.8026.4%27.3%
Curtis Granderson (NYY)3166856003563192.240.321.470.7915.8%28.0%
Carlos Gonzalez (COL)3297707143546178.293.336.497.8344.9%23.1%
Robinson Cano (NYY)4239658703468150.279.339.446.7853.9%15.5%
Josh Hamilton (LAA)3246936403336178.252.292.461.7535.2%25.7%
Adam Dunn (CWS)3206545573084232.174.291.370.6605.4%35.5%
Joey Votto (CIN)35379967528113173.289.398.495.8934.1%21.7%
Prince Fielder (DET)4068997872688175.272.356.422.7783.3%19.5%
Carlos Pena (HOU)2835804812579197.173.302.358.6595.2%34.0%
Ryan Howard (PHI)2975945422437200.221.283.400.6834.4%33.7%
David Ortiz (BOS)3467316562468144.279.346.462.8083.7%19.7%
Brian McCann (ATL)3105875402436118.252.305.426.7314.4%20.1%

I'm a fan of guys with two first names

I admit I'm a Jay Bruce fan, but I think he has those dangerous lefty vs. lefty to garner your support as well.

NL Homer & Strikeout Percentage Leaders

I wanted to spend a few moments looking at ultimate results, all or nothing, homers vs. strikeouts.

There are 20 players in AL with at least seven homers this season led by Justin Upton, Bryce Harper, and John Buck.

There are 17 players with at least 36 whiffs in the NL led by Jay Bruce, Dan Uggla, and B.J. Upton.

But who are the batters with a good home run percentage and a decent strikeout percentage?

On this chart you want to be in the lower right corner where you see the effectiveness of Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran, and Yuniesky Betancourt.

The further left you move on the chart into the lower left corner you see batters who are lower in terms of strikeouts and lower in terms of homers.

This group includes guys without any homers including Ben Revere, Denard Span, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, and Ruben Tejada. But it also includes some low homer hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Starlin Castro, Andre Ethier, and Pablo Sandoval.

The upper right corner is comprised of guys who are hitting some homers, but striking out too much: this is where Justin Upton, Buck and Harper are hanging out along with Lucas Duda, Ryan Braun, Dan Uggla, Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, and a number of other dangerous batters.

The upper left corner are guys who are whiffing without showing power. This unenviable group includes B.J. Upton, Jay Bruce, Adam LaRoche, Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp, Everth Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, and numerous others who are frustrating you.