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Entries in Rafael Furcal (2)


Furcal's Power

Over the last three-plus seasons, switch-hitter Rafael Furcal showed much more power against left-handed pitchers than right-handed pitchers, especially when it comes to home runs.  A lot of the difference comes on two pitches, the fastball and the change up:


2008-April 4, 2011Vs. LHPVs. RHP
Plate appearances 378 981
Home runs 12 11
Fastball home runs 6 7
Change-up home runs 3 0


Looking at hit charts, not only does Rafael hit home runs at a higer rate from the right side, he hits those home run farther.  On the surface, there doesn't seem an explanation for the difference.  Left-handers and right handers fastball and change ups are mirror images of each other.  Furcal likes to hit home runs on pitches in side, and pitchers work him away on both sides of the plate.

The big difference appears to be pitch velocity.  The right-handers Furcal sees throw harder than the left-handers he sees:

Rafael Furcal, RHP fastball velocity.Rafael Furcal, LHP fastball velocity.So Furcal sees ton of right-handed pitchers throwing heat.  He turns around and gets fastballs that are about 3 to five miles an hour slower, and he has that extra split second to square up the ball.  The same thing happens with the change:

Rafael Furcal, RHP change-up velocity.Rafael Furcal, LHP change-up velocity.Again, there's a big drop in velocity from righties to lefties, and and Furcal just has more time to get his swing right.


Bad Ball Hitters

2010 Top Ten Power Hitters on Pitches Outside of the Strike Zone
(min. 750 pitches)

League average slugging percentage on pitches out of the strike zone last year was around .250. Rafael Furcal is the one name that pops out in this list. Unlike the other names in the top ten (and most all in the top 25), Furcal is not a power hitter. He's never hit more than 15 home runs in any season, and has amassed a total of 23 in his last 3 seasons of 400 plate appearances or more.

The switch hitting Furcal has always had more power from the right side of the plate (.400 as LHB, .447 as RHB), and most of his power on pitches out of the strike zone last year came from the right side. Three of his eight HRs from last year came on pitches out of the strike zone from the right side.

For a singles hitter like Furcal, you'd expect him to carry a high batting average on outside of the zone pitches, and his .263 average ranked him tenth last year. And his average on line drives off pitches out of the zone was a lofty .917 as well.

However, what was most surprising was his low batting average on ground balls. In his prime, Furcal was one of the faster players in the game, swiping 226 bases through his first 7 seasons in the majors. Furcal is still fairly fast at this point in his career compared to the average major leaguer, and speedy players tend to have better batting averages on ground balls. However, Furcal only managed a .115 ground ball average on balls out of the zone last year (.258 overall on GB). With 40% of the out of strike zone balls in play coming on the ground, his place in the top ten of this list is that much more impressive. He was doing it with the stick, and not his legs.