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Entries in Oakland A's (5)


3-2 is a Pitcher's Count for Max Scherzer

In yesterday's great Tigers' 8-6 win over the A's yesterday, in relief, Max Scherzer pitched out of a bases loaded no one out jam in the 8th inning without allowing a run, in this case the tying run in a 5-4 game, to score.

What made this Houdini-act even more impressive was the fact that Scherzer went to a 3-2 count on two of the batters.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of abracadabra was how he came back from down 3-1 to strike out Josh Reddick with no one out.

On the first 3-2 pitch to Reddick, Josh fouled off a 95 MPH four seamer that was over the plate. But on the next pitch, Reddick went down swinging on a 85 MPH change that was slightly inside.

Then with two down, on another 3-2 pitch, Alberto Callaspo lined out to center fielder Austin Jackson on an outside 95 MPH four seamer.

Here's how Scherzer addressed 3-2 counts during the postseason

Max Scherzer on 3-2 counts
Change up2201111101.000.000.500

Here's how Scherzer addressed 3-2 counts during the regular season

Max Scherzer on 3-2 counts
Change up313639919268110.136.364.387

A Brilliant Sonny Gray as Forecasted

Sonny Gray was brilliant last night for the Oakland A's last night in the Oakland 1-0 win over the Tigers that tied the ALDS at 1-1.

Justin Verlander was brilliant as well, but we have seen that many, many times before, so we are not focusing on him this morning. But most of the world of baseball fans had not seen Gray before in his 10 prior big leagues starts and in one of the best games of this baseball season they got to see a 23-year old righty who would not fit in with the Red Sox because all he seems able to grow is a wisp of a mustache.

Let's take a deep dive into Gray's performance last night

Sonny Gray vs the Tigers 10/5/2013
Sonny Gray8.01113.83822724296558.6%.154.214.154

Look at the speed differential in Gray's pitches

Sonny Gray vs the Tigers 10/5/2013

Gray by count

Sonny Gray vs the Tigers 10/5/2013
0-0 Count291655.2%91.295.458.6%8.3%48.0%0.0%75.0%
Two strikes261765.4%87.596.038.5%43.8%25.0%42.9%28.6%
Pitcher's Count361952.8%87.496.030.6%32.0%10.5%35.3%35.3%
Hitter's Count311754.8%92.794.951.6%6.7%0.0%5.9%47.1%
Even Count442965.9%91.095.456.8%31.6%51.6%15.4%46.2%

Two graphics speak volumes

You have seen the numbers, but the best way to truly appreciate what Gray did last night is by looking at where his pitchers went and, in the process, see why the Tigers were flailing and flustered

Gray's Fastball
Of the 82 fastballs that Gray threw, 34 were in the upper half of the zone and 64 were in the outer half of the zone.
Gray FB
Gray's Breaking Balls
Of the 29 breaking balls (27 curves, two sliders) that Gray threw, 25 were in the lower half of the zone and 17 were in the outer half of the zone.
Gray BB

Gray only threw 10 pitches in the middle of the plate to three batters who swung at eight of them, fouled five of them off and went 0-for-3 on the other three.

The forecast is bright for Oakland

I believe it is required to make some kind of meteorological comment when writing about Sonny Gray, consider it done.

Gray was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round (18th pick) of the 2011 amateur draft and he is under the A's control until free agency year of 2019. Maybe by then he'll be able to grow a Red Sox beard

But, I leave you with Tigers' manager Jim Leyland's words, who summed it up perfectly:
“Gray was everything as advertised, a live fastball coupled with an electric curve. I have to give him a lot of credit. I mean we’re not swinging the bats the way we’re capable, but you can’t take anything away from that performance."

Why are the Royals, Twins, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rangers above .500?

AL Teams Batting Average and BA w/RISP

I can't help be fascinated with the differential between team batting average and team average with runners in scoring position as an indicator of team success.

AL teams are hitting .251 overall and .251 with runners in scoring position 


It stands to reason then that the teams that are succeeding this young season are the ones with the highest positive differential between the two figures.

As you mouse over the teams, you can see that in terms of batting, the team closest to the average is Houston. Remember, this only takes into account batting and clearly the 5-13 Astros have problems that far exceed their ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

When you look at the Kansas City Royals numbers you can see why they are a first place team. Their batting avg. is fifth best in the league, but their abilty to hit with runners in scoring position is the best in the AL and  at +55 points, you can see a reason for their success.

Look at the Twins, and you can see a reason for their surprising early success. They have a +49 point differential. The Red Sox have a +35 which has brought them success when paired with their strong pitching.

Wonder why the Tigers with their great bats are off to a rocky start? How about hitting 42 points lower with runners in scoring position as an answer? 

The Angels have the highest batting average in the league at .280, but are only hitting .223 w/RISP. This puts them in the bottom four in the league.

But no team is exhibiting worse timely hitting than the White Sox

Chicago, like Toronto, is not hitting well overall, both at .232. But as bad as the Jays are hitting with RISP at .200, that is robust compared to the White Sox at .170, a -62 differential.

Unless, and until, those two teams narrow the gap, the liklihood of even reaching .500 this season remains remote.

In the meantime, as the Royals, Twins, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rangers continue to hit well with runners in scoring position, we will see them above .500 and challenging in their respective divisions.