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Entries in left handed (3)

Monday
Sep092013

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
GPAABHRBBK
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
GPAABHRBBK
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
GPAABHRBBKAVGOBPSLUGOPSHR%K%
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.
Monday
Jul222013

Max Scherzer Platoon-Proof in 2013

With apologies to Justin Verlander, Detroit has a new ace. Max Scherzer has taken the great leap forward that both scouts and statheads have long prophesized, establishing new full-season bests in ERA+ (133) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.90). The 28-year-old righty with one blue eye and one green eye had been a totally different pitcher depending upon which side of the plate the hitter toed, dominating same-handed batters but getting pummeled by left-handers. That has changed during Scherzer's breakout season, as he has cut his opponent slugging percentage against lefties from .465 in 2012 to .357 in 2013.

How has Max become practically platoon-proof? Here's a closer look at what he's doing diferently against lefties this season.

  • Scherzer is throwing fewer fastballs (65% in '12, 57% in '13) and sliders (9% in '12, 5% in '13), relying more upon his changeup (26% in '12, 29% in '13) and a newly implemented curveball (thrown 8% of the time). Scherzer's curve has been particularly effective -- hitters are 4 for 23 (.174) against the pitch, with just one extra-base hit. Perhaps Max's less predictable mix has helped his fastball play up. Lefties are slugging .356 versus Scherzer's fastball this year, down from .480 in 2012. For comparison's sake, lefty hitters are slugging .431 against righy starters this season.
  • He's getting ahead of lefties from the get-go, boosting his first-pitch strike rate from 57% in 2012 to 61% in 2013. The MLB average for right-handed starters against lefty hitters is 58%.
  • Scherzer is challenging lefties more often, increasing his rate of pitches thrown in the strike zone from 43.7% to 45.4% (46.7% average for righty starters against lefties). The difference is more pronounced on the first pitch of the at-bat (Scherzer threw 48.4% of his first-pitch offerings to lefties over the plate in 2012, and 52.5% in 2013).
  • He's not getting squeezed as much against lefties this year. In 2012, Scherzer got a called strike on a pitch thrown in the strike zone and taken by the batter just 72% of the time (the average for righty starters versus lefty batters is about 81%). This year, his called strike rate on in-zone pitches is 79%. In particular, Scherzer is getting more credit for in-zone pitches thrown high and away.

Scherzer's called strike rate on in-zone pitches versus lefty batters, 2012

Scherzer's called strike rate on in-zone pitches versus lefty batters, 2013

Wednesday
Apr252012

David Ortiz Reinvents his Swing

The scouting report on David Ortiz is that he is going to pull the ball, and often times pull it hard. This is the reason so many teams have instituted the over shift when facing the left-handed slugger. For years it worked, but in the winter going into the 2011 season, the Red Sox acquire the left hander with one of the smoothest opposite field strokes in the game, Adrian Gonzalez. Since that acquisition, Ortiz and AGonz have made fast friends, sharing hitting advice, and it is definitely showing. 

From 2008-2010, Ortiz had only 104 hits to the opposite field with only 12 home runs and a .578 slugging percentage. Below is the spread for Ortiz opposite field production over those years (production is indicated in slugging percentage).

Ortiz to the opposite field '08-'10In contrast, Gonzalez crushed pitchers to the opposite side with 160 hits, 48 home runs, and an .809 slugging percentage. Gonzalez could take almost any pitch on the outside half and give it a ride.

Gonzalez to the opposite field '08-'10Since Gonzalez arrived, Ortiz has seen a rebirth to his opposite field hitting ability, which should cause some teams to be wary of the Red Sox slugger. After a full season as teammates, Ortiz is off to the hottest April he has had in years. He is hitting a robust .444 average and .714 slugging percentage while spreading the ball around the whole field. 

Spread of Ortiz's hits so far in 2012

Also, over the course of 2008-2010, Ortiz hit an abysmal .218 versus left handed pitching, mustering up a less than impressive .383 slugging percentage. His ability to put the ball in play was horrible, leading to his removal from games facing lefties and contributing to some of Ortiz's slowest starts in his career.

Ortiz's Average versus left-handers from 2008-10Post-2011, Ortiz has been on a torrid pace, hitting lefites at a .340/.567 clip. Being able to go with the breaking ball and outside pitches to the opposite field has corrected Ortiz's swing and made him a dangerous middle of the order hitter for the Red Sox again.
Ortiz's Average versus lefties since the start of the 2011 season