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Entries in Miami Marlins (16)

Wednesday
Jul252012

Dodgers Acquire Free Swingin' HanRam

Miami Marlins 3B Hanley Ramirez has been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers with RP Randy Choate for the package of SP Nathan Eovaldi and prospect SP Scott McGough. Hanley has had his fair share of problems at the dish thus far, posting a measly .246 average to this point in the season. Here we will look at his numbers over each month of the season.

April:

A slow start to the season for the Marlins former franchise shortstop (pushed to third by the addition of Jose Reyes) created some doubt as to whether he could handle his position switch and still hit effectively. The power was still there as he hit four centerfield home runs and knocked in 13 RBI, but his strikeout rate was up as he only managed 17 hits in 22 games. He was also cold against left handed pitching, getting only three hits the whole month (though two were doubles); his hot zone against left handers is shown below.

 

May:

Ramirez turned up the heat in May, tearing the cover off the ball. He truly showcased why he was such a hot commodity and a middle of the order presence. He hit for a .322 batting average, .525 slugging percentage, as 15 of 38 hits went for extra bases. The strikeout rate remained high, but knocking in twenty runs and using the whole field makes a team less wary about strike outs. Below is a chart of the locations of Hanley's hits in May. Hanley showcased his pull field power, shifting the location of his home runs from center to left.

 

June:

June was another month long slump for Hanley, as he couldn't keep up the pace from May. His average and extra base hits fell, and his strikeout percentage rose. One good stat from this month was his strikeout to walk ratio, which dipped below 2:1 in a month for the first time this season. Strangely enough, it was right handed pitching that left Ramirez scratching his head this time. He struck out 16 of 18 times versus righties and only hit .194 (while hitting .300 versus lefties). Hanley versus right handed pitching is shown below.

 

 

July:

Hanley has gotten even worse since June, dealing with a lacerated finger that has kept him out of games, and seeming all-around lost at the plate. He has managed less hits than strike outs, which is a really depressing number for a major league hitter. The strangest thing is, Hanley is on pace to match his average home run out put at 4 per month; at least he has been consistent in that respect. July has been quite a mystery for Hanley, considering that there was a pattern to his success, or lack thereof in previous months: his swing and miss rate.

   April : 21.4% - disappointing month

   May : 15.4% - best month of the season

   June : 18.8% - back to the drawing board

   July : 17.8 % - this one is the anomaly, as he seems to be having a worse month than June but has cut down on his swing and miss rate, increasing contact. This should lead us elsewhere to see a pattern: BABIP.

   April : .228

   May : .351

   June : .250

   July : .179 (equal to average this month)

As you can see, though Hanley increased his contact rate, he is not getting any help in the field, leading to a decreased average. Perhaps a change of scenery, and some west coast parks will help him break out of his slump; the Dodgers can only hope that they are getting the May version of HanRam as opposed to the other months so far.

 

Thursday
Jul052012

Gaby Sanchez on the Outside

The Miami Marlins, trying to stay in the Wild Card chase as a run at the NL East title looks about as likely as Ozzie Guillen giving up cursing, added Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros in exchange for prospects Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen. While the 36-year-old Lee is no longer the hard-hitting El Caballo of years past (he's got a 103 OPS+ this year), the Marlins at least hope he can avoid turning in the sort of utterly disastrous performance that is Gaby Sanchez's 2012 season.

Sanchez posted a combined 111 OPS+ during his first two years as a starter in the majors, but the 28-year-old has tanked to the tune of a 49 OPS+ in a little less than 200 plate appearances this year. If the former Miami Hurricane now on the outs with the club that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft is going to re-establish himself as a big leaguer, he'll have to start making louder contact on the outer half of the plate.

Sanchez has never been a big slugger on outer-half pitches, but he at least avoided getting the bat knocked out of his hands when pitchers threw outside in 2010-11:

Sanchez's slugging percentage by pitch location, 2010-11

He slugged .393 against pitches thrown on the outer half, slightly above the .384 big league average. But in 2012, the newest and least happy member of the New Orleans Zephyrs has made next to no hard contact on the outer half:

Sanchez's slugging percentage by pitch location, 2012

Sanchez is slugging .171 on the outer half this season. That's the worst mark in the game among batters with at least 150 plate appearances and nearly 40 points lower than the next-worst hitter, Minnesota's Alexi Casilla. Opponents have keyed in on Sanchez's outside slugging woes, locating 58 percent of their pitches on the outer half and doing so 53 percent of the time in 2010-11.

Is Lee a real upgrade over Sanchez? Maybe. ZiPS projects Lee to top Sanchez in OPS slightly during the rest of the 2012 season (.761 for Lee, .735 for Sanchez). If you think Sanchez's issues on the outer half will persist, the trade is a decent stopgap that comes with cash to pay Lee's salary and no premium farm talent surrendered. If you think Sanchez's work in 2010-11 is more indicative of his talent level, it's more a case of adding a big name than a big upgrade at first base.

Monday
Jun042012

Big Z's Sinker Key to Comeback

Carlos Zambrano kept the Miami Marlins in a three-way tie atop the NL East standings on Sunday, limiting the Phillies to one run over 7.2 innings and belting a 431-foot homer for good measure. Big Z, shipped out of Chicago this past winter after one too many tirades, has far more pop than most pitchers (his 24 career homers tie him with Bob Gibson and Walter Johnson for fourth all-time among moundsmen). But he has turned his career around in Miami by preventing big flies.

The 31-year-old has cut his home run rate in half (from 1.2 HR/9 in 2011 to 0.6 this season) and has improved his ERA+ from 80 last year to 145 in 2012. The key to Zambrano's comeback is his sinker -- he's using the pitch more, busting hitters inside more often and getting grounders at an elite clip.

In 2011, Zambrano used his sinker a little less than 30 percent and had a ground ball rate with the pitch that was slightly below the 53 percent average for starting pitchers. With the Marlins, he's throwing his sinker more than 40 percent of the time and waging a ground war:

YearPct. Sinkers ThrownGB Pct.
2011 29 52
2012 41 61

 

Zambrano has allowed just one home run and is limiting hitters to a .376 slugging percentage with his sinker this year, compared to eight homers and a .489 slugging percentage in 2011. Big Z isn't just throwing the pitch more often; he's mixing up his location as well. Check out his sinker location to righty batters in 2011, and then 2012:

Zambrano's sinker location to RHBs, 2011

Zambrano's sinker location to RHBs, 2012

Zambrano is busting right-handers in on the hands more often this season, increasing his percentage of sinkers thrown inside from 28 percent to 37 percent. Same deal against lefties:

Zambrano's sinker location to LHBs, 2011

Zambrano's sinker location to LHBs, 2012

Big Z has doubled his percentage of sinkers thrown inside to left-handers from 13 percent last season to 26 percent in 2012.

Zambrano's stock dropped markedly in recent years, as he devolved from the power arm of his early twenties to a low-octane starter lacking great control and gradually losing the ability to keep the ball down. But, armed with a bat-busting sinker, Big Z's career prospects are looking up.