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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)

Friday
Sep302011

Can Texas Stand the heat vs. Matt Moore?

The Tampa Bay Rays will give the ball to rookie Matt Moore against the Rangers' prolific offense tonight. The 22-year-old lefty struck out 11 hitters in his first MLB start against the Yankees on September 22, featuring a David Price-esque fastball that averaged nearly 95 MPH. Are the Rangers ready for Moore's heat?

In general, hitters struggle mightily against high-speed fastballs. They have a .298 Weighted On-Base average (wOBA) against fastballs thrown at 95 mph or higher over the past three seasons, compared to a .349 wOBA versus fastballs thrown under 95 mph. Several of Texas' heavy hitters have fared worse than most when a pitcher lights up the gun:

wOBA of Rangers hitters vs. fastballs thrown 95+ MPH since 2009 (including with other teams)

Nelson Cruz: .264

Ian Kinsler: .270

Adrian Beltre: .277

Josh Hamilton: .288

This quartet has absolutely killed fastballs thrown under 95 mph, with each posting a wOBA of at least .425, but high-velocity heat has been an issue. Michael Young (.333 wOBA vs. fastballs thrown 95+ mph) and Mike Napoli (.324) have hit top-shelf velocity pretty well, however.

It's possible that the advantage Moore's velocity provides is blunted by Texas' righty-heavy lineup. But if he relies heavily upon his fastball tonight against the middle of the Rangers' lineup, it might be a smart strategy instead of a rookie mistake.

Thursday
Sep152011

Hamilton's Shagadelic Slam

Josh Hamilton is the Santa Claus of carpets. The slugger's fourth inning grand slam last night off Cleveland's David Huff might have bought the good people of Texas more than $500,000 worth of free carpeting and countertops, as a local businessman promised customers a refund if Hamilton went deep with the bases chock full of Rangers in September.

Hamilton wiped the floor with a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner, flicking his wrists and lofting it over the left field wall:

Hamilton's carpet-winning homer, 9/14/2011

While Huff's pitch was high, it's hard to blame him for wanting to pitch Hamilton outside. He's a monster on pitches thrown inside, but a mere mortal on the outer third:

      Hamilton's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location, 2011 Hamilton's .787 slugging percentage on inside pitches ranks behind only Toronto's Brett Lawrie and teammate Nelson Cruz. By no means is Hamilton lousy against pitches on the outer half -- his .424 slugging percentage places 55th out of 403 qualified hitters -- but if you're looking to avoid serving up promotion-winning shots, staying away isn't a bad strategy. Just don't tell Huff that.

Friday
Sep092011

Top 20 Hitters on Pitches Within the Strike Zone

Top 20 Hitters on Pitches Within the Strike Zone
(Min. 500 pitches in the Strike Zone - click image to enlarge)

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.