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Entries in Milwaukee Brewers (41)

Thursday
Aug182011

Greinke's Results, Processes Match Up

Milwaukee's Zack Greinke entered July with a 5.63 ERA. After last night's seven inning, one run gem against the Dodgers, the erstwhile Royals ace now has a more palatable 3.92 mark. The simple, lazy narrative would be that the blockbuster trade pickup took time to adjust to his new surroundings and is now settling in.The truth is, Greinke has been dealing all season long.

Take a look at his year through the prism of Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), an ERA estimator that evaluates pitchers by strikeouts, walks and a normalized home run per fly ball rate:

May: 2.06

June: 2.45

July: 2.19

August: 2.59

*Greinke missed April while recovering from fractured ribs suffered during a pick-up basketball game. What, the Bucks don't cause enough grief for Milwaukee's sports fans already?

Greinke's overall 2.31 xFIP is best in baseball among starters with 120-plus innings pitched. The main reason that he had a 5.63 ERA in May-June and a 2.19 ERA since is that his batting average on balls in play has dropped significantly.

Here's the league average BABIP by pitch location:

Nothing earth-shattering here, but pitches thrown down the middle have a much higher BABIP than those thrown around the corners of the strike zone.

Now, take a look at Greinke's BABIP by pitch location by month:

May

 

 June

July

August

Greinke's BABIP was sky-high even on pitches hugging the corners during his first two months of action, but since July he's mainly giving up hits on pitches put in play that are belt high or catch the fat part of the plate. Here are Greinke's BABIP totals by month: .349 in May, .350 in June, .271 in July and .286 in August.

Greinke has pitched like an ace all year, and with better luck on balls put in play, his ERA is starting to reflect that.

 

Saturday
Aug132011

Put-Away Pitchers

Top 15 Pitchers with Two Strikes by K%

Chicago White Sox closer Sergio Santos has been deadly in two strike counts. With a 65.0% K-rate, he's the best put away pitcher so far in 2011. In 103 plate appearances with two strikes, Santos has yielded only 8 hits and 10 walks while striking out 67 batters.

While Kameron Loe's 41.5% K-rate in two strike counts ranks only 97th among qualified pitchers, his .102 weighted on base average is tops in all of baseball. He's given up just 8 base hits with two strikes, none for extra bases. One reason for the lack of opposing power has been his ability to keep the ball out of the air. With two strikes, Loe has given up all of 6 fly balls out of 57 balls put in play, compared to 41 grounders.

Sunday
Aug072011

Fielder Launching Rockets

Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers hit his fifth home run of the season against the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon.  He came into the game 19 for 43 against the Astros with ten extra base hits.  What are the Astros doing wrong against the first baseman?

Most teams work Fielder away.

Prince Fielder, pitch frequency, 2011.They also tend to work him up and in, which is good for limiting his power:

Prince Fielder, in-play slugging, 2011.The Astros follow a similar pattern:

Prince Fielder, pitch frequency against the Astros, 2011.Again, they work him up and in, which should be good, and away, which should be good.  They do put  too many pitches down in the middle of the strike zone. 

Prince Fielder, slugging vs. the Astros, 2011.It looks like the Astros pitchers are leaving too many pitches up and in the middle of the plate.  When pitchers go after Prince up and in, they really need as much in as up.

The other problem comes from the slider.  Overall in 2011, Prince's worst production comes against the slider, with a .267/.360/.480 slash line.  (You get an idea of how well Fielder hits when that is his worst slash line against a pitch.)  Against Astros sliders, however, Fielder is 4 for 5 and the one non-hit resulted in an error.  Most teams work sliders away from Prince, but Houston used it up and in.  That was a mistake, as Prince pounded the pitch.

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