Bartolo Colon threw 87 pitches yesterday, and while he didn't get the win, he held the Orioles to 3 hits over 8 innings. He threw mostly fastballs (90.8%), a few sliders, and one changeup according to PitchFX data. His fastball averaged a -5.8 BrkX (horizontal movement from spin) reading and 8.5 BrkZ (vertical movement from spin) reading, both slightly better than league average. He yielded 10 ground balls, 5 line drives, and 4 fly balls, while striking out 7. And as you can see, he located his pitches extremely well, avoiding the middle of the plate while jamming lefties up and in. He also threw to the outside edge of the plate to righties and lefties, recording 5 of his strikeouts on pitches away, 4 of them looking.
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Entries in New York Yankees (121)
About one quarter of the way through the season Curtis Granderson (NYA) is halfway to his 2010 total of 24 home runs. Granderson owns decent power, averaging about 25 dingers a season during the previous three years. He drives the ball in a very compact location in the strike zone:
The interesting thing about this chart comes from the fact that Curtis pulls most of his home runs. He's able to reach balls on the outer half of the plate, and pull them for homers. Pitchers tried to go further away on Curtis, often ending up outside the zone:
For some reason, they've stopped going outside on Granderson in 2011.
They are basically throwing the ball where he likes to hit home runs.
One other thing changed. In the period from 2008-2010, Curtis hit 57.9% of his home runs on fastballs. That's not surprising, as 53.9% of the pitches he saw were fastballs. In 2011, however, he's really locked in on the speed pitch. Pitchers have cut their fastballs to Granderson to 43.8%, but Curtis hit 10 of his twelve homers on fastballs. So it looks like a combination of poor pitch location on the part of the hurlers and good fastball recognition by Granderson led to the surge in homers.
At Baseball Musings, I noted the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers remain the only teams without a three-run or better homer in 2011. The Baseball Analytics heat maps provide a good indication of why. The Twins rank last in the AL in home runs with 15, and they just don't get very much distance on their fly balls.
The Tigers, with 28 home runs, rank 10th in the AL and don't put much sock on the ball either.
Note that the Twins are at least hitting balls in the middle of the plate well. The Tigers only seem to be getting distance on the edges.
Compare these teams to the Yankees. They lead the league with 54 homers:
The Yankees light up the strike zone with much brighter greens and even a little yellow. If you think the New Stadium has something to do with it, the Yankees are actually hitting the ball further on the road this season.
Injuries and age hurt the Twins and Tigers long ball ability this sesaon. Until the big bats come back or are replaced, the teams need to concentrate on other ways to score runs besides waiting for the three-run homer.