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Entries in Los Angeles Dodgers (49)

Thursday
Oct172013

Rosenthal's Heater Untouchable Above the Belt

By now you may have realized Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal is one of the hardest-throwing relievers in baseball, and this observation is an accurate one. Pumping out heaters at 96.4 MPH on average -- second-highest among relievers with at least 74 innings -- in 2013 to go with a max fastball velocity of 101.4, the 23-year-old Cowley County Community College product has a clear knack for dialing up his fastball whenever he so chooses.

But what you may not have realized is how dominating the offering has been for Rosenthal, especially in the postseason.

Over 12 career postseason relief appearances dating back to his playoff debut in 2012, Rosenthal's heater has held opponents to a .119/.178/.167 slash line, including an absurd strikeout total of 21 to go with just 3 walks. Throwing the pitch 88.2 percent of the time, this has obviously been the primary reason behind his not allowing a run -- earned or unearned -- to cross home over 14.2 career postseason innings.

In TBS's broadcast Tuesday night, the network's own Cal Ripken, Jr. pointed out that batters tend to struggle against Rosenthal's fastball when located in the upper half of the zone. Here, it is more difficult to adjust the plane of the bat to the ball compared to the bottom half where it is easier for hitters to simply "drop the bat head" on the pitch.

The evidence suggests Cal is correct (no surprises there).

Opponents' In-Play Rate vs. Rosenthal's fastball in postseason

The image above validates Ripken's premise, and the numbers are startling. Opponents have placed just 8.7 percent of Rosenthal's fastballs in play when he's located the offering in the upper half of the zone. When placed in the lower half, batters have garnered a 40.5 percent in-play rate in the postseason.

Video/Mechanical Synopsis

What's truly impressive about the way in which Rosenthal has dominated with his fastball in the postseason is that he's thrown it nearly nine times out of ten. One would presume batters take this into account when they're batting against him and adjust their strategy at the plate to reflect that.

But clearly they've either a.) failed to look over their scouting reports or b.) simply can't touch Rosenthal's heater, regardless of whether or not they've looked over those reports.

Andre Ethier's plate appearance at the end of game two shows what I'm getting at.

After whiffing at a 98 MPH heater in the first pitch of the at-bat, Ethier should have a good sense of when to begin his pre-swing load on subsequent fastballs later in the plate appearance. But such was not the case, as he whiffed in the pitch shown above (and swung and missed on the pitch after that, which was another fastball clocked at 98 MPH) and was noticeably behind on the offering.

What's remarkable about this pitch, in particular, is how far behind Ethier is in his swing progression when Rosenthal's fastball crosses the plate. Ethier's hands are extended to where they should be, but the bat head is obviously no where to be found because Rosenthal's fastball -- for whatever reason -- catches him off guard.

Clearly, opponents will need to start adjusting by beginning their pre-swing loads sooner. This could open up their vulnerability against Rosenthal's offspeed stuff, of course, but they cannot continue to let their bat heads drag against his heater. So far it's been one of the key reasons behind St. Louis' dominance this October.

Monday
Oct142013

Two Games of LCS Pitching

The pitching in these League Championship Series has been remarkable and worth taking a deeper look.
2013 LCS pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. St. Louis Cardinals 22.0 85 4.09 76 14 3 0 7 24 .184 .269 .026 0.82 0.955
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 20.1 74 3.89 67 9 3 0 6 18 .134 .180 .000 1.33 0.738
3. Detroit Tigers 17.0 69 4.43 59 8 3 1 9 32 .136 .269 .017 2.65 1.000
4. Boston Red Sox 18.0 78 3.65 70 17 8 2 5 13 .243 .273 .072 3.00 1.222

Two broad strokes:
  • The Dodgers are one unlucky team, but the Cardinals are also pitching brilliantly.
  • The most significant number that might explain why Boston is tied in their LCS can be seen as they continue to do what they do best: work the pitcher. Their 4.43 pitches per plate appearance is significantly greater than any of the other three teams.

Let's go deeper by looking at the starting pitching

Clearly the Cardinals and Dodgers starters have been outstanding, but the Tigers starters have been even better. As we progress in this postseason, it would be fair to say that the Red Sox starters are the weakest of the four teams and the team's greatest weakness.
2013 LCS Starting pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Detroit Tigers 13.0 50 4.48 41 2 1 0 8 25 .049 .125 .000 0.69 0.769
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 14.0 48 3.67 45 6 3 0 2 15 .133 .194 .000 1.29 0.571
3. St. Louis Cardinals 12.1 53 3.91 49 11 2 0 3 13 .224 .306 .041 1.42 1.105
4. Boston Red Sox 12.0 53 3.60 49 14 6 2 1 10 .286 .324 .083 4.50 1.250
2013 LCS Starters through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Anibal Sanchez (DET) 6.0 25 4.64 19 0 0 0 6 12 .000 .000 .000 0.00 1.000
2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 6.0 20 3.60 18 2 2 0 1 5 .111 .143 .000 0.00 0.500
3. Michael Wacha (STL) 6.1 26 4.31 25 5 1 0 1 8 .200 .294 .080 0.00 0.900
4. Max Scherzer (DET) 7.0 25 4.32 22 2 1 0 2 13 .091 .222 .000 1.29 0.571
5. Jon Lester (BOS) 6.0 27 4.04 24 6 1 0 1 4 .250 .300 .125 1.42 1.105
6. Zack Greinke (LAD) 8.0 28 3.71 27 4 1 0 1 10 .148 .235 .000 2.25 0.625
7. Joe Kelly (STL) 6.0 27 3.52 24 6 1 0 2 5 .250 .316 .000 3.00 1.333
8. Clay Buchholz (BOS) 5.1 26 3.15 25 8 5 2 0 6 .320 .353 .042 7.94 1.412

Let's go even deeper by looking at the bullpens

Tigers fans instead of bemoaning the fact that you are leaving Boston tied 1-1, you need to feel really happy you got out of Dodge with a win. The Red Sox have lit up the Detroit bullpen, barely escaping with a win in Game 1 and you saw what happened in Game 2.
2013 LCS Bullpen pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Boston Red Sox 6.0 25 3.76 21 3 2 0 4 3 .143 .167 .048 0.00 1.167
2. St. Louis Cardinals 9.1 32 4.41 27 3 1 0 4 11 .111 .188 .000 0.00 0.750
3. Los Angeles Dodgers 6.0 26 4.31 22 3 0 0 4 3 .136 .158 .000 1.42 1.105
4. Detroit Tigers 4.0 19 4.32 18 6 2 1 1 7 .333 .500 .056 9.00 1.750
 

It's not just one Tigers reliever, it's all of them

You have to wonder if Jim Leyland is going to have the phone removed from the dugout
2013 LCS Tigers relief pitching through two games
IP PA P/PA AB H XBH HR BB K AVG BABIP WHAV ERA WHIP
1. Al Alburquerque 1.1 5 4.00 5 1 0 0 0 3 .200 .500 .000 6.75 0.750
2. Joaquin Benoit 1.1 6 5.00 6 2 1 1 0 2 .333 .333 .000 6.75 1.500
3. Jose Veras 1.0 4 2.50 4 1 1 0 0 2 .250 .500 .000 9.00 1.000
4. Drew Smyly 0.1 2 6.50 1 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .000 .000 27.00 3.000
5. Rick Porcello 0.0 2 4.50 2 2 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 .500 - -
Monday
Oct072013

Postseason Batting - It's Hanley and Everyone Else

I've been watching these games and seeing the success of the Red Sox and Dodgers (Pirates as well) bats and the futility of the Tigers, Rays, Cards, and A's and wanted to see how they were succeeding and struggling even beyond the averages.

Let's take a deep dive into the batting prowess of each team

Who's Fooling Who? (Batters as of October 7, 2013)
P PA Swng% Miss% Strk% InPl% Foul% Zone% Chas% ClStk% AVG BABIP
Los Angeles Dodgers (LAD) 446 120 51.3% 24.0% 65.7% 34.9% 41.0% 46.0% 31.5% 29.5% .333 .419
Tampa Bay Rays (TB) 405 109 48.6% 30.5% 64.9% 35.0% 34.5% 47.7% 31.6% 31.7% .208 .258
Oakland Athletics (OAK) 309 68 48.5% 36.7% 63.1% 22.0% 41.3% 43.4% 32.0% 28.3% .177 .313
Pittsburgh Pirates (PIT) 551 149 47.7% 23.6% 62.6% 41.8% 34.6% 44.3% 29.3% 28.5% .277 .294
Atlanta Braves (ATL) 468 109 47.2% 24.4% 62.4% 30.3% 45.2% 46.6% 31.2% 28.7% .221 .313
Detroit Tigers (DET) 266 68 46.6% 19.4% 62.4% 39.5% 41.1% 44.7% 31.3% 29.6% .219 .292
Boston Red Sox (BOS) 294 80 46.6% 19.7% 63.3% 42.3% 38.0% 49.7% 23.0% 31.2% .352 .411
St. Louis Cardinals (STL) 421 109 43.7% 17.9% 62.2% 44.0% 38.0% 47.7% 23.6% 32.9% .219 .234
What stands out:
  • The Dodgers are not afraid to swing against the Braves pitching.
  • The Dodgers and Red Sox have an unsustainable batting average for balls in play.
  • Look how few pitches the Braves are putting play and then you see the A's are putting way fewer in play. Both teams have a .313 BABIP.
  • The A's have been missing a lot of Tigers pitches and really have to be thrilled with a 1-1 tie in the series.
  • The Tigers are really struggling against the A's pitching and really have to be thrilled with a 1-1 tie in the series.
  • The Red Sox are showing great discipline at the plate not doing a lot of swing and missing and not chasing a lot of pitches out of the zone. They are confident enough to take called strikes and work the count. They are not being fooled by Tampa Bay pitching.
  • In contrast, the Cardinals are not swinging at a lot of pitches, they missing very few, they're not chasing a lot of pitches, and they are not hitting in good luck, in part because we've seen they are not taking good swings at pitches.

Prince Fielder needs to take a called strike

Here's some thoughts:
Prince Fielder needs to chill. Josh Donaldson is creating new wind currents with his swings-and-misses. Delmon Young is swinging at almost everything. Hanley Ramirez is a beast. Marlon Byrd loves being a Buc. Yasiel Puig of his own, rakes. If Jacoby Ellsbury continues the way he's been playing, Scott Boras will go deaf from all the ka-chings he keeps hearing for the soon-to-be free agent.
Here's why:
Top 20 Swingers as of October 7, 2013
P PA Swng% Miss% Strk% InPl% Foul% Zone% Chas% ClStk% AVG BABIP
Delmon Young (TB) 34 11 70.6% 41.7% 76.5% 37.5% 20.8% 41.2% 60.0% 20.0% .333 .250
Juan Uribe (LAD) 46 13 65.2% 30.0% 71.7% 33.3% 36.7% 50.0% 43.5% 18.8% .333 .375
Stephen Vogt (OAK) 36 7 63.9% 21.7% 77.8% 17.4% 60.9% 38.9% 54.5% 38.5% .143 .250
Prince Fielder (DET) 26 8 61.5% 6.3% 61.5% 50.0% 43.8% 46.2% 28.6% 0.0% .125 .125
Jose Iglesias (DET) 31 7 61.3% 15.8% 74.2% 31.6% 52.6% 41.9% 55.6% 33.3% .167 .200
Hanley Ramirez (LAD) 57 14 59.6% 11.8% 66.7% 35.3% 52.9% 42.1% 42.4% 17.4% .538 .545
Evan Gattis (ATL) 57 12 59.6% 20.6% 68.4% 23.5% 55.9% 40.4% 44.1% 21.7% .500 .625
Yoenis Cespedes (OAK) 34 8 58.8% 20.0% 67.6% 30.0% 50.0% 47.1% 38.9% 21.4% .500 .600
Torii Hunter (DET) 24 8 58.3% 28.6% 66.7% 28.6% 42.9% 41.7% 50.0% 20.0% .143 .250
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) 28 9 57.1% 18.8% 82.1% 43.8% 37.5% 67.9% 33.3% 58.3% .556 .714
Justin Morneau (PIT) 60 18 56.7% 23.5% 73.3% 44.1% 32.4% 53.3% 32.1% 38.5% .294 .333
Freddie Freeman (ATL) 55 13 56.4% 25.8% 67.3% 29.0% 45.2% 54.5% 28.0% 25.0% .333 .444
Marlon Byrd (PIT) 51 16 54.9% 32.1% 62.7% 42.9% 25.0% 31.4% 40.0% 17.4% .333 .364
Chris Johnson (ATL) 44 12 54.5% 37.5% 75.0% 29.2% 33.3% 54.5% 40.0% 45.0% .333 .571
Starling Marte (PIT) 76 18 53.9% 24.4% 63.2% 31.7% 43.9% 51.3% 32.4% 20.0% .188 .167
Carl Crawford (LAD) 52 15 53.8% 25.0% 73.1% 32.1% 42.9% 51.9% 36.0% 41.7% .286 .375
Josh Reddick (OAK) 41 8 53.7% 27.3% 58.5% 18.2% 54.5% 41.5% 25.0% 10.5% .143 .250
Yasiel Puig (LAD) 43 14 53.5% 39.1% 67.4% 39.1% 21.7% 34.9% 32.1% 30.0% .462 .667
Josh Donaldson (OAK) 30 8 53.3% 56.3% 70.0% 25.0% 18.8% 50.0% 40.0% 35.7% .125 .250
Stephen Drew (BOS) 32 9 53.1% 23.5% 65.6% 41.2% 35.3% 46.9% 29.4% 26.7% .222 .286

The Hanley Ramirez Report

Jacoby Ellsbury has had a great couple of games, but this is Hanley's world, we just live on it.
.300 Hitters (10/7/2013)
GPAABHXBHBBAVGOBPSLUGOPSBABIPK
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)299510.556.556.6671.222.7142
Hanley Ramirez (LAD)31413761.538.5711.2311.802.5451
Andrew McCutchen (PIT)41813715.538.667.6151.282.5831
Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)288420.500.5001.1251.625.6002
Shane Victorino (BOS)298400.500.556.5001.056.5711
Evan Gattis (ATL)31210502.500.583.5001.083.6252
A. J. Ellis (LAD)3128422.500.636.7501.386.6672
Yasiel Puig (LAD)31413600.462.500.462.962.6674
Desmond Jennings (TB)31110411.400.455.500.955.5002
Russell Martin (PIT)41613521.385.375.8461.221.3334
Dustin Pedroia (BOS)298310.375.333.500.833.4292
David Ortiz (BOS)298331.375.4441.2501.694.2001
Yadier Molina (STL)31211421.364.417.7271.144.3331
Matt Adams (STL)31311411.364.462.455.916.4001
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)31414510.357.357.571.929.4444
Omar Infante (DET)276201.333.429.333.762.5002
Marlon Byrd (PIT)41615531.333.375.6671.042.3643
Juan Uribe (LAD)31312410.333.333.583.917.3753
James Loney (TB)3119311.333.455.444.899.4292
Freddie Freeman (ATL)31312411.333.385.417.801.4443
Delmon Young (TB)3119311.333.364.6671.030.2501
Chris Johnson (ATL)31212400.333.333.333.667.5715
Carlos Beltran (STL)31312431.333.385.9171.301.2221
Alex Avila (DET)276201.333.429.333.762.5002
Pedro Alvarez (PIT)41613432.308.375.8461.221.2504