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Entries in Nelson Cruz (7)


InDepth Spotlight: Brad Penny vs. Nelson Cruz

(Click to enlarge)

The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers square off this afternoon.  Brad Penny will have his hands full with a dangerous Rangers lineup.  Keep an eye on the Penny and Nelson Cruz matchup.  The above graphic shows all data dating back to 2008.  Cruz gets a lot of big hits up in the zone, and Penny tends to give up more hits there.

It will be interesting to see if Penny tries to come in on Cruz at all.  He's been fairly successful hitting that low inside corner against right-handed batters, holding them to a .136 batting average and .227 slugging percentage since 2008.  However, Cruz has done a lot of damage on pitches down and in from righties over that same period, producing a .649 SLG% and a 10.5% home run rate.

Will Penny challenge him?


Nelson Cruz Looks Lower

Nelson Cruz tied a major league record by hitting homers in each of the first four Texas Rangers game of the season.  The Texas outfielder showed impressive power during the three previous seasons, slugging .565 during the period.  Nelson concentrated his power in the upper half of the strike zone:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2008-2010.Not surprisingly, pitchers tried to work him down and away:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2008-2010.Pitcher probably don't get the ball down as much as they'd like against Nelson, but you can see the intent in the heat map.

In 2011, they tried the same thing:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2011.So far, they are doing a very good job of working Nelson down.  What they didn't count on was Cruz making an adjustment:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2011.Instead of waiting to crush a high pitch, Nelson went down and got the low pitches.  The pitchers were following their scouting report and got burned.  It may be that Nelson just got lucky.  It's early in the season and anything can happen in a few at bats.  It would make sense, however, for Cruz to learn to hit where the pitchers are working, so it may be time for the scouting report to change.


Texas Rangers Offense through April 5th

The Texas Rangers' have started the 2011 season with some very hot hitting, and are 4-0 as a result.

Batters In Play SLG% through April 5th
(Click to enlarge)

Nelson Cruz, who became the third player in MLB history to homer in each of his team's first four games of the season, is sporting a 28.6% home run rate, while Ian Kinsler has already gone deep 3 times.  Considering that Josh Hamilton has yet to leave the yard, the Rangers' in play SLG% heat map is even more impressive. 

The only haven for opposing pitchers so far has been down in the zone where Rangers' batters have averaged only .153 and slugged .340.