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Entries in Pedro Alvarez (5)

Monday
Jun252012

Best, Worst Hitters vs. the Heat in 2012

When it comes to the fastball, velocity is power. Sure, some hurlers manage to torture hitters with lower-octane fastballs that sink or dart, but there's an undeniable link between the radar gun and a batter's ability to drive the ball. Check out the average slugging percentage against fastballs this season, by velocity:

VelocitySlugging Pct.
Under 90 MPH .501
90-92 MPH .467
93-94 MPH .406
95+ MPH .364

 

Against sub-90 MPH fastballs, hitters slug about the same as Billy Butler. When pitchers ramp it up to 95+ MPH, batters morph into Placido Polanco. Velocity is power.

So, which hitters are hammering the heat this season, and which are getting manhandled? First, here's a look at hitters who are raking against 95+ MPH heat in 2012:

Highest slugging percentage vs. 95+ MPH fastballs, 2012

BatterSlugging Pct.
David Wright 1.077
Pedro Alvarez .929
Josh Willingham .889
Lucas Duda .875
Mark Trumbo .857
Corey Hart .833
Adam LaRoche .793
Alex Rios .760
Michael Bourn .750
Jason Kipnis .750

 

And here the the hitters getting scorched by 95+ MPH fastballs this season:

Lowest slugging percentage vs. 95+ MPH fastballs, 2012

BatterSlugging Pct.
Cameron Maybin .000
Michael Young .000
Rafael Furcal .000
Gordon Beckham .050
Michael Cuddyer .059
Delmon Young .059
Brendan Ryan .083
Erick Aybar .087
Josh Hamilton .091
Ty Wigginton .091
Friday
Apr152011

Surviving Strikeouts

Josh Willingham and Pedro Alvarez own two of the top three strikeout rates in the major leagues so far in 2011.

 

BatterStrikeout Pct.
Josh Willingham 35.3
Jay Bruce 33.3
Pedro Alvarez 32.7
Curtis Granderson 32.5

 

There is a bit of a paradox when it comes to high strikeout rates.  For pitchers, they are a sign that the player is a quality hurler.  Yet batters with high strikeout rates are often among the best in the game.  Sluggers from Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard came under criticism for their propensity to K.  All of these player share the traits, however, of sending the ball out of the park and drawing a good number of walks.

 

Willingham is better at both of those than Alvarez.  Josh draws walks in 7.8% of his plate appearances, versus 6.3% for Pedro.  That might not seem like much, but Willingham is 50th percentile in walks, while Alvarez comes in at about the 38th percentile.   Among the top ten in strikeout percentage, Pedro owns the third lowest walk rate. 

The big difference can be seen in how they light up the strike zone with power:

Josh Willingham slugging, 2011.Pedro Alvarez slugging, 2011.The difference in walks and power means that Josh sports a .316 wOBA, poor but not terrible, while Alarvez comes in with a .216 mark.  This is the key to the paradox.  Hitters  who strike out a great deal can be successful if they contribute in other ways.  Batters like Alvarez, without power or the ability to get on base, do not last in the majors.  Over time, we only see the successful strike out kings. The ones who can't do anything else go back to the minors.

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