While Adrian Gonzalez's wOBA on pitches in the strike zone leads all hitters, it's 184 points higher than his wOBA on pitches out of the strike zone. Jose Bautista, however, has a .467 wOBA on pitches missing the strike zone, which is 44 points higher than his wOBA on pitches in the strike zone. Along with Bautista, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers are the only other hitters in the top 20 of both lists.
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Entries in Texas Rangers (66)
Colby Lewis of the Texas Rangers allowed twice as many home runs at home than on the road so far in 2011. Is the park really that much of a disadvantage to Lewis, or does his pitching approach hurt him there.
What's clear is that balls travel farther in Texas. The following graph shows his distribution of fly balls by distance on the road:
Note that his fly ball distance peaks at around 260 feet and falls off from there. Note, also, that on the road even his deep fly balls don't always produce that much power.
At home, things look a little different.
There's a huge peak at 330 feet, and the number of fly balls from 360 to 400 feet is much higher than on the road. In addition, those long flies in Arlington produce a ton of power. Not many of those get caught.
The park effect also shows up in where batters connect for home runs in the strike zone. In away games, they tend to take pitches down out of the park:
At home, homers come on higher pitches:
At home, 14 of his 20 home runs allowed came on various fastballs. On the road, five of his ten home runs came on off-speed pitches. He allowed three home runs on change ups on the road, none at home. It seems that at home, the high fastballs carry better than on the road. His hard pitches, which produce a .201/.259/.341 slash line away land him a .264/.331/.608 line at home. It's the stadium, not the pitcher.
Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers suffered an offensive downturn in 2011 compared to 2010. His .359/.411/.633 slash line from 2010 dropped to .298/.345/.520 in 2011. The change in the way pitchers approach him offers an idea of why. The average pitch Josh saw in 2010 wasn't very fast:
The pitches above averaged 85.6 MPH. In 2011, Josh sees a lot more yellow:
The average velocity isn't that much greater, 86.6 MPH. Pitchers aren't afraid to throw the high fastball to Josh, and they are getting him to chase those. In 2010, he did go out of the strike zone up a bit:
In 2011, he can't lay off the high pitch:
In 2010, Josh hit .338/.455/.688 on high pitches, but he was disciplined high. In 2011, with the selectivity gone, he's at .253/.387/.480.
It strikes me that Josh lost a little bat speed. That allows pitchers to throw him high fastballs, which give him even less time to swing. This may not be a slump, but opponents exploiting a new weakness.