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Entries in Pittsburgh Pirates (35)


McCutchen four-hits his way into the batting lead


For me the NL batting race isn't professional, it's personal.

There have been 172 games this season in which a batter has had at least four hits in a game and no one has done it more frequently than Andrew McCutchenwho had four hits and drove in three last night to lead his Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-2 win over Houston.

Four-hit game leaders

1 Andrew McCutchen 6 27 24
2 Ben Revere 5 24 20
3 Daniel Murphy 5 23 20
4 Austin Jackson 5 27 20
5 Joey Votto 4 18 16
6 Mike Trout 4 20 16
7 Denard Span 4 23 16
8 Derek Jeter 4 19 16
9 Ruben Tejada 3 16 12
10 Justin Morneau 3 13 12
11 Yadier Molina 3 13 12
12 Steve Lombardozzi 3 15 12
13 Omar Infante 3 16 12
14 Torii Hunter 3 15 12
15 Matt Holliday 3 15 12
16 Carlos Gonzalez 3 13 12
17 Yunel Escobar 3 14 12
18 Alejandro De Aza 3 15 12
19 Pedro Ciriaco 3 15 12
20 Miguel Cabrera 3 15 12
21 Melky Cabrera 3 13 12
22 Ryan Braun 3 15 12
23 Elvis Andrus 3 17 12

 Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used Generated 9/5/2012.

McCutchen's four hits lifted him into the lead in the NL batting race over Melky Cabrera who is selfishly watching his Giants teammates battle to reach the postseason.

NL Batting Leaders

  1. McCutchen (PIT).347
  2. Cabrera (SFG).346
  3. Posey (SFG).326
  4. Molina (STL).324
  5. Wright (NYM).313
  6. Gonzalez (COL).312
  7. Braun (MIL).312
  8. Fowler (COL).308
  9. Holliday (STL).305
  10. Hill (ARI).302

Throughout this season, Andrew McCutchen has been slamming out hits (okay, admittedly he only hit .252 in August, but at least he wasn't juicing). His plate discipline has been assisted by pitchers who have pitched to McCutchen's strengths and McCutchen has responded.

Throughout this season, Andrew McCutchen has been slamming out hits. His plate discipline has been assisted by pitchers who have pitched to McCutchen's strengths and McCutchen responds. 

I want to share four graphics with you: 
  1. The first is a heat map that dramatically shows you the location of pitches that has led to McCutchen feasting in a season-long hit buffet.
  2. The second, lifts off the top layer to show you the numbers underneath the heat map.
  3. The third, illustrates the pitches that McCutchen saw last night.
  4. Finally, the four hits that McCutchen had last night

Here's how McCutchen has put together an NL leading .347 batting average.

As you can see, McCutchen loves the ball on the inside lower-half of the plate.

But to truly understand what you are seeing, let's strip away the top layer and see how this heat map above speaks volumes.

Look at the numbers in red on the inside of the plate. McCutchen thrives, like most hitters, on pitches right down the middle, hitting .419. But McCutchen punishes pitchers when their pitches miss by just a few inches inside with McCutchen hitting .459 and .400.

But the real difficulty pitchers have is when they are trying to get to those blue areas in the lower right corner of .118 and .125. When they miss, truly by the size of a baseball, McCutchen is a .552 hitter.

The key to a great hitter is being selective, waiting to get the pitch you want and then pouncing on it.

Here are the 21 pitches McCutchen saw last night against the Astros.

Now, look at the location of the pitches that produced McCutchen's three singles and a double last night.

As you can see, it's not that Astros didn't try to get McCutchen out by pitching to his weak zones, it's just that McCutchen, as he has all season long, took advantage of mistakes...pitches in his wheel house.

McCutchen performed professionally last night to regain a batting lead in a race I take personally.


Bryce Harper: A Quick Look

He only has 68 Major League plate appearances under his belt, but it's not too early to take a look at Bryce Harper's slugging percentage heat maps.

Click image to enlargeHarper hit his second HR yesterday on an Anthony Bass 1-0 fastball that was up and out over the plate:

Click image to enlargeHarper is currently 6 for 17 on fastballs with three doubles and a home run. His other HR came on a slider low in the strike zone from Padres' Tim Stauffer a day earlier.

That first HR notwithstanding, pitches down in the zone seem to be the one area that has given Harper some trouble. On low pitches, he's currently hitting .100 (2 for 20, 4 Ks) with a swing and miss rate of 29.8% and a chase% (balls swung at out of the strike zone) of 37.7%.

Again, it's only 16 games worth of data and thus too early to draw any meaningful conclusions.  Nonetheless, tonight's starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates Erik Bedard may want to keep the ball down on Harper as much as possible.



Best Relief Pitchers with RISP

Min. 50 plate appearances with RISP (Click image to enlarge)

These pitchers have been the best in the majors when the opposing team is primed to score.  While Pittsburgh Pirates fans have seen just how good Jason Grilli has been over the past couple of seasons, the rest of the country may be surpised to see him at the top of this list. Grilli's wOBA has been 130 points lower when dealing with runners in scoring position.  In the 56 plate appearances where he has dealt with runners 180 feet or less from home, Grilli has allowed just three hits.  Only one of those was an extra base hit, a HR to Jimmy Rollins in July of last year.

Other notes: Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers holds the highest strikeout rate (47.5%) with RISP; Michael Wuertz has the highest wOBA at .511.

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