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Entries in L.A. Angels (10)


Albert Pujols' Slow Start

Batting .246 with no home runs so far in 2012, Albert Pujols is off to a rough start with his new team.  It is early and Pujols will no doubt eventually make the appropriate adjustments necessary to bust out of this funk.  However, scouts have noticed that Albert has been expanding the strike zone, swinging at pitches he normally avoids.

First here's a look at his slugging percentage heat map from the previous four years compared to this season:

Click image to enlarge.Albert has yet to take advantage of pitches in the heart of the strike zone. This is a truly odd heat map for someone with Pujols' abilities.

Now take a look at his swing rate comparison:

Click image to enlarge.Pujols has so far swung at a higher percentage of pitches out of the strike zone, particularly down and away, up and away, and way up out of the zone.  Between 2008 and 2011, Pujols chased 25.7% of pitches thrown to him that were out of the PitchFX strike zone.  This year he's swinging at 34.9%. 

All those extra swings have resulted in an increase in his strike out rate; 8.9% in 2011 to 12.9% so far in 2012, while his walk rate is down 2.3%.

Pujols is not likely to remain in this slump for long.  More than likely, he will start to become more selective and cut down on chasing pitches.  When that happens, opposing pitchers will have to start throwing to the strike zone more; and the walks, hits and home runs will follow.


Bartolo Colon Zones In

In the Athletics 6-0 win over the Angels yesterday, starting pitcher Bartolo Colon threw 108 pitches, 82 for strikes. Beginning with Maicer Izturis' 5th inning at bat, Colon recorded 38 straight strikes.  Here's a look at the heat map for his outing:

(Click image to enlarge)

Colon threw nearly all fastballs (93 of 108), using his changeup and slider sparingly.  However, three of his five strikeouts came on his offspeed pitches; two from his slider and one from his change.

Colon lives around the strike zone.  His 66.8% strike rate in 2011 was 11th best in the league.  Angels hitters also helped Bartolo out a bit by swinging at 35.9% of his pitches out of the strike zone yesterday.


Cano vs. Pedroia

Both Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano are having very good seasons.  Even though Pedroia struggled in the first two months of the season, batting just .240 with a .332 SLG, he's turned it around and is now batting .310 with a .477 SLG.  Even when he was struggling, the Red Sox second baseman was walking quite a bit, keeping his OBP around .350.  Once the power kicked in, his overall numbers took off.

Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby champion has been fairly consistent all year for the New York Yankees.  He ranks in the 90th percentile in both doubles and triples this season, however he's struggled to get on base overall with a .343 OBP, the lowest it's been since 2008.

Here's a look at how the two match up:

2011 Season
Robinson Cano.295.343.503.362125
Dustin Pedroia.310.403.477.386139
(Click to enlarge)

Pedroia has surpassed Cano in wOBA in the past couple months as his power numbers have risen. Through the first three months of the season, Cano held a 5 point edge in wOBA over Pedroia. This was all despite his lackluster walk rate of 4.5%, which ranked him in the bottom 8% of the league. However, through June 30th, Cano's .501 SLG% was 102 points higher than Pedroia's. Since that time, Pedroia has slugged a whopping .633, and his .388 batting average in that span ranks first in the majors.

2011 vs. LHP
Robinson Cano.314.358.482.36211.3%4.6%2.9%
Dustin Pedroia.417.523.642.5008.7%18.8%4.2%

2011 vs. RHP
Robinson Cano.286.336.513.36214.8%5.5%4.6%
Dustin Pedroia.271.355.416.34111.3%11.8%3.0%

As expected, Pedroia holds the edge against left-handed pitching this season. His .523 OBP ranks first in the majors and his .417 average ranks third. However, it's important to note that Pedroia currently holds a ridiculously high .437 BAbip(Batting Average on Balls In Play) against lefties. Only two other players in the American League with more than 100 PA against lefties have a BAbip over .400: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers with a .408 BAbip in 128 PA versus lefties, and Michael Bourjos of the L.A. Angels with a .418 BAbip in 118 PA. Pedroia's BAbip vs. LHP was .288 in 2009 and .266 in his injury shortened 2010 season; his career BAbip versus southpaws is .323. A correction in the next couple months could start to rein in those numbers.

Pedroia has also made good use of the short wall in left field at Fenway, particularly against lefties. In 78 plate appearances, his line is .455/.526/.742 with a .482 BAbip. In his previous three seasons combined at home versus lefties, Pedroia has .335 BAbip. While Fenway does tend to inflate BAbip, it's more than likely that Pedroia has benefited from a little luck as well.

Robinson Cano has fared as expected against righties; his 4.6% home run rate is about a 44% increase over his previous three year average. And his 3 triples off lefties this season matches his combined total from 2009-10. His walk rate, however, is down from 8.8% in 2010 to 5.5%. Meanwhile, his 14.8% strike out rate is a 47% increase from 2010 when he struck out in 10.1% of his PA versus RHP. Contributing to this problem has been Cano's propensity to swing at more pitches out of the zone. His current 37.4% chase percentage versus RHP ranks in the bottom 8% of the league.

Struggles and surges aside, the Yankees and Red Sox will look to their second baseman to help lock down a playoff spot down the stretch. And with both teams vying for top honors in the AL East, the production they get from their respective second baseman could be the difference maker.