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Entries in Milwaukee Brewers (41)

Wednesday
Sep282011

Greinke and BABIP

Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers will finish the season with a high BABIP.  He enters the action Wednesday night with a .325 mark, 13th highest among major league qualifiers.  Batting average on balls in play for a pitcher is often influenced by the defense behind the pitcher, and by luck.  In Greinke's case, he may share a great deal of responsibility for his high BABIP.

Take a look at Greinke's BABIP by the type of count, along with his percentile ranks:

 

Grienke 2011BABIPPercentile Rank
Hitter Counts 0.378 12%
Pitcher Counts 0.299 36%
Even Counts 0.320 30%

 

When Greinke is ahead or even in the count, his BABIP is poor but not terrible.  When he falls behind, however, hitters smash the ball.  Why?

When Zack gets ahead in the count, he uses his slider, which dives out of the strike zone:

Zack Greinke, pitch frequency in pitcher counts, 2011 season.When he falls behind in the count, he abandons the slider and throws fastballs in the strike zone:

Zack Greinke, pitch frequency in hitter counts, 2011 season.Greinke's not trying to fool batters, he's trying not to walk them.  A little history is important here.  When Zack played for the Royals, Brian Bannister pitched with him.  Bannister understood sabermetrics, including the idea that a pitcher was primarily responsible for walks, home runs and strikeouts.  If a pitcher minimized BB and HR, and maximized Ks, he then just needed to let the defense take care of the rest.

To Zack, a .378 BABIP in hitters counts means the opposition is making an out over 60% of the time.  That's much better than a walk, where the batter reaches base 100% of the time.  Sure, the Brewers could use a better defense behind him, but given his 15-6 record and 3.86 ERA. it appears Zack made the right choice.

Thursday
Sep152011

A Brew Cut

Milwaukee Brewers starter Shaun Marcum is holding opposing batters to a .218 wOBA on his cutter, fourth lowest among all pitchers that have thrown the pitch at least 150 times in 2011.  Marcum is throwing it at about the same rate as he did last year, but with much better results. 

In 2010, Marcum threw 466 cutters and batters hit .244 with a .407 slugging percentage off them.  Overall, they put up a .293 wOBA against Marcum’s cutter last season.  This season, however, Marcum has already thrown 587 cutters and batters are hitting just .173 against them with a miniscule .228 SLG. 

One of the biggest reasons for the improvement has been a reduction in home runs coming off the pitch.  Last season, Marcum had an 8.2% HR/FB rate on his cutter; this season it is down to just 1.8%, as he’s yielded just one cutter induced HR in 177 plate appearances decided on the pitch.

Tuesday
Sep062011

T-Plush Thrives in Platoon Role

In late March, Nyjer Morgan was shipped to Milwaukee because Corey Hart was recovering from a strained oblique and the man known as "Tony Plush" seemingly had strained ties in Washington. Now, as the Brewers kidney-punch and monster-claw their way to a NL Central title, Morgan is shining in a platoon role.

Manager Ron Roenicke makes sure that the left-handed Morgan rarely steps in versus lefty pitchers: 320 of  T-Plush's 361 plate appearances (89 percent) have come against right-handers. That's a smart move, considering that Morgan has a career .310 average, .362 OBP and a .402 slugging percentage against in nearly 1,400 PA versus righties but a .204/.290/.274 slash in 375 PA against lefties.

Enjoying the platoon advantage so often, Morgan has a .308/.355/.436 line with the Brew Crew. Granted, he walks about as often as he plays the quiet game (a sub-four percent rate of free passes taken), and his .370 batting average in balls in play is nearly 30 points above his career average. But he is hitting for more power against right-handed pitching, particularly on low pitches. Check out his in-play slugging percentage vs. righties in 2010 and 2011:

Morgan's in-play slugging percentage vs. RHPs, 2010 Morgan's in-play slugging percentage vs. RHPs, 2011

Morgan had a .094 Isolated Power (slugging percentage minus batting average) and zero homers against right-handers last year, but he's got a .134 ISO and four jacks in 2011.

Hitting righties and playing good D, Morgan has teamed up with Carlos Gomez and Jerry Hairston Jr. to give the Brewers a superstar-caliber Frankenplayer in center field. According to Fangraphs, Milwaukee's center fielders have around five Wins Above Replacement this season, a slightly lower total than that of Andrew McCutchen. Not that Morgan or the Brewers needed the confidence boost.

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