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Entries in New York Yankees (126)

Wednesday
Aug312011

Mo Chases For Mo

When the Yankees signed Mariano Rivera out of Panama back in 1990, George H.W. Bush was president, parachute pants were still kinda cool and no one had ever heard of an iPad. Yet, despite his 41 years, there's nothing dated about Mo. The cutter king has a 48-to-5 K-to-BB ratio in 51 innings, and his 2.5 Wins Above Replacement put him in the top 10 among MLB relievers yet again.

Rivera did leave Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a nasty bruise on his forearm last night, but he hasn't walked a hitter since July 3 and his 0.9 BB/9 is the second-lowest mark of his illustrious career. The Sandman has a sub-one walk rate because he's luring hitters to chase his cutter and occasional fastball off the plate at the highest rate of any reliever in the game.

Batters are chasing about 43 percent of Rivera's out-of-zone pitches this season, his highest clip dating back to 2008. Rivera loves to bust left-handers inside and pitches right-handers away with the cutter, often placing it out of the zone but just close enough to the plate that hitters feel compelled to swing:

 Frequency of Rivera's cutter location vs. lefties, 2011

 Frequency of Rivera's cutter location vs. righties, 2011

Batters on both sides are going after lots of those cutters just slightly out of the zone. Check out hitters' swing rate by location vs. Mo's cutter, compared to the league average:

Hitters' swing rate by location vs. Rivera's cutter, 2011League average swing rate by location vs. cutters, 2011 Rivera rarely throws a fastball to a lefty, but he uses the pitch about 18 percent of the time against righties. While his cutters sit mostly on the outside corner to same-handed batters, he ties them up inside with the fastball:

Frequency of Rivera's fastball location vs. righties, 2011

That, in turn, leads to lots of awkward swings on would-be balls:

Right-handed hitters' swing rate by location vs. Rivera's fastball, 2011League average swing rate by location for righty batters vs. righty fastballs, 2011Overall, Mo has thrown about 45 percent of his pitches within the strike zone this season. That may be well below the 49 percent average, but that's by design -- he's trying to locate just out of the zone, forcing batters to swing at pitches that they don't have much chance of hitting but may be called strikes if they don't pull the trigger. MC Hammer's 15 minutes of fame passed long ago, but the Hammer of God can still tell hitters, "can't touch this."

 

Monday
Aug292011

ESPN.com: A Look at Hughes' Return

Zack Singer of ESPN's Stats & Info team provides an interesting look at Phil Hughes' return and the impact of his fastball.

After a nearly three-month quest, Hughes has regained most of the velocity he lost. In seven starts since returning to the Yankees, Hughes’ fastball velocity has averaged 91.5 mph, with an even higher average velocity in his past three starts. Overall, Hughes’ fastball velocity is up nearly three mph from where it was prior to his trip to the DL. 

Visit ESPN.com Stats & Info Blog for more...

Saturday
Aug272011

A.J. Burnett's Pitch Location vs. the Baltimore Orioles

Earlier in the week, we broke down A.J. Burnett's success, or lack thereof, into three zones.  We saw that he has been very bad over the middle and upper parts of the zone, and close to the best in the league when keeping the ball down.

Well last night Burnett had another awful game yielding 9 runs to the Baltimore Orioles over five innings.  Was he keeping the ball out of the middle and upper portions of the zone?

No, he certainly did not.  Of the 116 pitches that A.J. Burnett threw last night, just 15 were located in the lower part of the zone.  Not surprisingly, three of his five strikeouts came on pitches down in the zone, and he gave up just one hit in seven plate appearances decided on a low pitch.

(Click image to enlarge)

If A.J. is going to regain anything of his old form, he should probably start by doing what my parents always yelled at me to do: keep it down.