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Entries in Prince Fielder (25)

Thursday
Jan242013

The Bill Chuck Files: Three for Thursday

Monday
Dec172012

To Thrive, Porcello Needs Out of Detroit

Detroit Tigers starter Rick Porcello has improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio each season in the majors while also inducing bushels of ground balls. Porcello turns 24 later this month, and he won't hit free agency until after the 2015 season. The right-hander's gradual improvement, youth and years of remaining team control make him potentially valuable commodity. So why is Detroit shopping him? Simply put, Porcello and the Tigers are better off apart. Porcello needs quality infield defense to reach his potential, and the Tigers' plus-sized plodders don't provide it.

Tossing his tailing fastball more frequently than every American League starter not named Bartolo Colon or Henderson Alvarez, Porcello posted a 54% ground ball rate during the 2012 season. That easily topped the 46% major league average, and ranked eighth among all qualified starting pitchers. All of those grounders helped Porcello keep the ball in the park (he surrendered 0.8 home runs per nine innings pitched), but they didn't turn into outs as often as they should have. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder manning he corner infield spots, Porcello's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) on ground balls was well above the MLB average for qualified starters:

Highest BABIP on ground balls among SP, 2012

PitcherBABIP
Max Scherzer .339
Phil Hughes .309
Matt Moore .294
Joe Saunders .290
Ricky Nolasco .286
Luis Mendoza .286
Bud Norris .285
Bruce Chen .277
Anibal Sanchez .274
Ivan Nova .274
Barry Zito .270
Tommy Milone .269
Josh Beckett .267
Ryan Vogelsong .266
Ubaldo Jimenez .265
Tommy Hanson .264
Homer Bailey .263
Josh Johnson .261
Cliff Lee .260
Ross Detwiler .257
Felix Hernandez .256
Derek Holland .256
Rick Porcello .250
Lance Lynn .249
Ricky Romero .248
MLB Avg.for Qualified SP .234

 

As a pitcher who misses few bats (his 5.5 K/9 last year was a career high), Porcello puts the ball in play more often than the rest of the guys on this list. That amplifies the effect that Detroit's less-than-rangy infield has on Porcello -- more grounders, more balls that squeak past Prince and Miggy for singles

Porcello has been linked to the Angels, Pirates and Padres, among other clubs. All three would be a better fit for his groundball-centric approach, as L.A. (.224 BABIP on ground balls), Pittsburgh (.234) and San Diego (.245) turned more ground balls into outs than Detroit (.260). With better infield defense, Porcello should be able to close the gap between his mediocre ERA (4.59 last season) and his more promising Fielding Independent ERA (3.91).

The Tigers' philosophy with Fielder and Cabrera at the corners is to score runs, range be damned. To mitigate the effects of that lack of range, Detroit has assembled a high-strikeout starting rotation. Porcello's pitch-to-contact, ground ball-heavy style just doesn't fit. A trade makes sense for both sides, as Porcello has more value to a club with airtight infield D than he does to the Tigers.

Sunday
Oct282012

Prince Fielder's Tough World Series

When Alex Rodriguez struggled during his Yankee postseason, the baseball world responded with an A-Rod doomsday scenario. But what we can see as Buster Posey, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder have struggled to varying degrees, one of things we all correctly acknowledge is that pitchers clearly bear down on a team's top hitters.

In the first three games of this World Series, looking at the 3-4 batters for each of these teams, Pablo Sandoval has been the outlier. Sandoval is 7-for-11 (.636) with three homers and four RBI. He has more hits, homers and RBI than the other three batters combined: Posey is 3-for-11 with one RBI, Cabrera is 2-for-9 with one RBI, and Fielder is 1-for-10 with no RBI.

One set of Giants who I don't believe has gotten enough credit are the Giants' advance scouting group. Not only have they done an outstanding job in helping their pitchers point out weaknesses of the Tigers batters, but they must be commended in guiding the San Francisco defense in positioning them for the hard hit balls that the Tigers batters have hit.

Let's look at how the Giants have pitched to Fielder.

The first thing you can see is that the Giants have worked Fielder from the middle of the plate outward.

Of the 30 pitches Fielder has seen, only six have been on the inner-half of the plate. Fielder has swung at three of those pitches and missed on two of them. During the regular season, on pitches on the inner-half of the plate, Fielder his .276 with 12 homers and had an OPS .908

This is not to say, that Fielder wasn't dangerous on pitches on the outer-half of the plate during the regular season when he hit .330 with 18 homers and an OPS of .952.

He's hit .111 on those outer-half pitches in the World Series going 1-9 with a single and two whiffs. 

So what's the difference?

Fielder has clearly been anxious (understandably) this Series and he's chasing, and to their credit the Giants pitchers are feeding into it.

Fielder has seen 20 pitches out of the strike zone. He has swung at nine of them and he is 0-7 chasing those pitches, striking out twice. In the Series, Fielder has seen only one pitch in the black and none in the corner.

This continues Fielder's regular season tendency of swinging at pitches low and away out of the zone

Just to make Fielder's batting life more of a living hell, of the 30 pitches Fielder has seen: 

  • 14 have been fastballs
  • 5 sliders
  • 4 Cutters
  • 4 Change-ups
  • 3 Curves

So, my bottom line is: be impressed with the Giants scouts, but be even more impressed with the Giants pitchers for executing a very effective game plan.