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Entries in New York Yankees (126)


Top Two Strike Hitters by wOBA

Min. 100 Two Strike Plate Appearances (Click image to enlarge)

There is no shortage of good hitters in the top 10 of this list.  Some notables that didn't make the cut: Chris Iannetta of the Colorado Rockies (.322) has the the highest walk rate (21.5%) of all major leaguers with two strikes....Yankees' Curtis Granderson (.316) has 5.1% HR rate, 4th behind Cabrera, Tulowitzki, and Berkman....Victor Martinez (.328) of the Detroit Tigers has a .310 batting average in two strike counts, best in the majors.


Sabathia's Boston Problem

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees pitched very well this season, except against the Boston Red Sox.  CC's problems occur on three of his four pitches; the fastball, the sinker, and the change up.  His problems are two-fold, in that his pitches miss the strike zone more, and the Boston hitters track his offerings better.

Overall, Sabathia does an excellent job of hitting the strike zone with those three pitches:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.He misses to the catcher's right hand, and close enough that batters will often go after those pitches.  Against the Red Sox, he misses wider:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency vs. Boston, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.CC also avoids the middle of the plate more, especially up.  The following table shows how these wide misses hurt Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
In Strike Zone %
51.2 44.7
Strike % 67.5 61.8
Called Strikes %
35.2 29.7
Swing % 49.9 45.7
Miss % (of swings) 18.8 15.0
Chase % 31.4 27.0


The first three rows represent CC's break down.  He throws fewer pitches in the zone, and that leads to fewer strikes, mostly because there are fewer pitches to take for strikes.  The next three rows show how the Red Sox react to this.  A team of selective hitters, they swing less, especially since fewer pitches are in the strike zone.  Swinging at better pitches, (lower chase %) they make more contact (fewer misses).  That leads to this statistical disparity for Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
Batting Average 0.262 0.357
On Base Percentage 0.323 0.373
Slugging Percentage 0.361 0.561
wOBA 0.303 0.417


Even a great pitcher can't afford to make too many mistakes against the Red Sox.


Predictable Burnett

A.J. Burnett of the New York Yankees produced an interesting fastball graph this season.

A.J. Burnett fastball over time, 2011.Note that over the course of this season, his fastball velocity stays very even.  Batters, however, swing at it less.  Their contract rate remains the same, but they are producing a higher average when they hit the ball.

I have a bit of a background in machine learning.  This kind of improved output over time from a learning algorithm would make the programmer very happy.  Batters have learned to recognize the fastball when to swing and when not to swing, and that's leading to more balls falling for hits.  You can especially see this in counts where A.J. holds the advantage over the hitter.  In April and May, batters hit .218 against Burnett's fastball in pitcher's counts with a .251 wOBA.  Since then, his BA allowed is up to .318 in those situations with a .286 wOBA.

Burnett's fastball became predictable, and batters are taking advantage.