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Entries in Red Sox (21)


David Ortiz Connecting on Fastballs

Pundits have predicted David Ortiz's demise for years now, yet the 35-year-old Red Sox slugger is enjoying a vintage Big Papi season in 2011. After tallying two more hits in Boston's 14-5 drubbing of the San Diego Padres last night, Ortiz is batting .323/.402/.604.

Ortiz has turned the clock back by hitting for mammoth power while also paring his strikeout rate dramatically. He has punched out in just 11.1 percent of his plate appearances this season, compared to 23.9 percent in 2010. The biggest reason that Ortiz has cut his K rate by more than half is that he's connecting on -- and crushing -- fastballs.

Take a look at Ortiz's contact rate against fastballs in 2010 and 2011: 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2010 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2011

He's making more contact across the board, but the biggest change is that he's connecting far more often on fastballs located in the upper third of the strike zone. Overall, Ortiz has missed 10.9 percent of the fastballs that he has swung at. Last year, Ortiz missed fastballs 22 percent of the time that he pulled the trigger.

Ortiz isn't just putting the bat on the ball against fastballs -- he's annihilating them. Ortiz's .817 slugging percentage versus fastballs dwarfs the .431 major league average for non-pitchers and trails only New York's Curtis Granderson among all MLB hitters. Ortiz slugged .608 against fastballs in 2010.

 David Ortiz may be in his mid-thirties, but he's far from finished. His monstrous year at the plate has pushed the Red Sox to the top of the American League East standings and positions him for a handsome payday in free agency this winter.



Patient Pedroia

Here is a quick look at Dustin Pedroia's patience at the plate in comparison to Vladimir Guerrero. Take a look at the two heat map sequences that display "swing rate" based on count. It goes without saying, Vlad is a free swinger.

Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero Swing Rate Based on Count (2009 Reg Season - June 16, 2011)
Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia Swing Rate Based on Count (2009 Reg Season - June 16, 2011)

5 Facts with Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett has had an impressive start to the 2011 season and his curveball has been a big factor.

1. In 2011 opponents are hitting .188 versus Beckett (326 plate appearances). That's 21st overall across all MLB active pitchers. Jonny Venters (ATL) is leading the league as his opponents hit only .137 (142 plate appearances).

2. Beckett has the 7th highest strike out rate  (28.4%) when there are runners in scoring position (sample size 67 plate appearances). David Robertson of the New York Yankees is number one in the league with a 40.7% strike out rate (sample size 59 plate appearances).

3. In 2010 Josh Beckett had a homerun rate of 3.9% (HR/AB). So far in 2011 Josh Beckett's homerun rate is down to 1.4%. 

4. In 2010 Josh Beckett had 37 called third strikes. In 2011 he already has 23 called third strikes. 

5. During the 2010 season 22% of Josh Beckett's called third strikes were curveballs. In 2011 the curveball is responsible for 35% of Beckett's called third strikes.