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Entries in Los Angeles Angels (46)

Saturday
Sep102011

Haren Loses His Cutter

Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim saw his ERA expand in his last starts.  His most popular pitch, the cut fast ball, seems to have abandoned him.  You can see part of the problem by looking at a map of the location of the pitch:

Dan Haren, cut fastball, 2011 through August 4th.Haren caught the strike zone with 52.3% of these cutters.  Since then, that percentage dropped:

Dan Haren, cut fastball, 2011 since August 9th.That chart shows only 41.7% of his cutters ended up in the strike zone.  With Dan missing the zone more, Haren is forced to come in with his cutter, and batters are waiting for it:

 

Haren's CutterThrough 8/4Since 8/9
BA Allowed .195 .316
Slugging Pct. .298 .592
Chase % .195 38.5
Called strike % .195 25.0

 

Haren gave up four home runs on the cutter through 8/4.  Since then he allowed five long balls.  Until he gets control of the pitch back, Dan will be vulnerable to the long ball.

Tuesday
Aug302011

Go Low, Not High on Trumbo

While no one will mistake a first baseman sporting  a .296 on-base percentage for a great hitter, the Angels' Mark Trumbo has managed to provide some value at the plate during his rookie season by bashing pitches into the gaps and over the fence. The 25-year-old has 24 home runs and is slugging .484. Combine that power with a pretty good glove, and you have a decent, if flawed starter.

Depending upon where pitchers locate their offerings, Trumbo is either an All-Star or a scrub with the bat. He's chasing -- and killing -- high pitches, while scuffling against stuff thrown at the knees.

The righty hitter is downright giddy against high pitches, extending his strike zone all the way up to his eyes at times:

 Trumbo's swing rate by location on high pitches 

League average swing rate by location on high pitchesTrumbo is chasing 46 percent of high pitches thrown out of the strike zone, which is 20 percentage points higher than the league average. But that hacking has largely paid off, as he's sending many of those pitches into orbit:

           Trumbo's in-play slugging percentage by location vs. high pitches                      

League average in-play slugging percentage by location vs. high pitchesHe's slugging .553 versus the high stuff, besting the league average by nearly 160 points. And his .387 Weighted On-Base Average vs. high pitches is 45 points better than average. Going above the letters against Trumbo is a bad idea.

Trumbo also extends the zone versus low pitches:

Trumbo's swing rate by location vs. low pitches

League average swing rate by location vs. low pitchesHis 35 percent chase rate vs. low stuff is seven percentage points above the league average. That's where the comparison between Trumbo's performance on high and low pitches ends, though. He has been helpless when opponents go low on him:

Trumbo's in-play slugging percentage by location vs. low pitches

League average in-play slugging percentage by location vs. low pitches

Trumbo's slugging just .318 versus low pitches, well below the .338 average. With a .254 wOBA versus low stuff, he's about 40 points below average and ranks in the same territory as Alcides Escobar and Lyle Overbay. Ouch.

Despite his hacking, trying to beat Trumbo high can backfire in a big way. Pitchers should pound the rookie at the knees until he proves that he can also do some damage on low stuff.

Monday
Aug222011

Jerome Williams Unusual Fastball

Jerome Williams of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made a triumphant return to the majors on Sunday.  He did not walk a batter, striking out six during seven innings of work, allowing his only run on a solo homer.  After the game, Torii Hunter commented on Jerome's improvement:

"He just re-created himself," Hunter said. "He's throwing two-seamers, cutters. He's not throwing the straight fastball anymore. He's keeping the ball down and it seemed like he just learned how to pitch."

Hunter makes very good points.  Not only is Williams keeping the ball down, he developed a septum chart, working the edges and avoiding the middle of the plate:

Jerome Williams, pitch frequency, 2011.It's just one start and one relief appearance, but that kind of separation between inside and outside shows up in the best pitchers.  Now look at the spin of his pitches:

Jerome Williams, spin by velocity, 2011.The curve ball (blue smudge) and slider (yellow circle in the middle) stand out.  The green/yellow/orange circle, however, represents his fastball and change up.  It's that orange blob that is intriguing.  The relationship between a normal two-seam fastball and a change up is that the fastball "breaks up and in" more than the changeup.  This fastball does break in more, but it actually breaks down more as well.  In other words, Williams appears to throw this pitch with less top spin than expected.  A two-seam fastball works off the four-seamer.  Pitchers want to throw them the same way, and let the position of the seams cause the rise and dip.  Without a four-seamer, Jerome appears to be concentrating on making the pitch dip.

Hunter also mentioned a cutter, which doesn't show up on the above heat map.  It's there, but Williams did not throw it much:

Jerome Williams, fastball spin, 2011.You can see the tiny smug on the Y axis just above the X axis.  That's the cutter, but he hasn't thrown it enough yet for PITCHf/x to classify it as such.

Williams made a good start against a last place team.  Now he needs to repeat these pitches, and see if he can beat Texas next weekend.