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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)

Wednesday
Aug102011

Cano vs. Pedroia

Both Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano are having very good seasons.  Even though Pedroia struggled in the first two months of the season, batting just .240 with a .332 SLG, he's turned it around and is now batting .310 with a .477 SLG.  Even when he was struggling, the Red Sox second baseman was walking quite a bit, keeping his OBP around .350.  Once the power kicked in, his overall numbers took off.

Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby champion has been fairly consistent all year for the New York Yankees.  He ranks in the 90th percentile in both doubles and triples this season, however he's struggled to get on base overall with a .343 OBP, the lowest it's been since 2008.

Here's a look at how the two match up:

2011 Season
AVGOBPSLGwOBAOPS+
Robinson Cano.295.343.503.362125
Dustin Pedroia.310.403.477.386139
(Click to enlarge)

Pedroia has surpassed Cano in wOBA in the past couple months as his power numbers have risen. Through the first three months of the season, Cano held a 5 point edge in wOBA over Pedroia. This was all despite his lackluster walk rate of 4.5%, which ranked him in the bottom 8% of the league. However, through June 30th, Cano's .501 SLG% was 102 points higher than Pedroia's. Since that time, Pedroia has slugged a whopping .633, and his .388 batting average in that span ranks first in the majors.

2011 vs. LHP
AVGOBPSLGwOBAK%BB%HR%
Robinson Cano.314.358.482.36211.3%4.6%2.9%
Dustin Pedroia.417.523.642.5008.7%18.8%4.2%

2011 vs. RHP
AVGOBPSLGwOBAK%BB%HR%
Robinson Cano.286.336.513.36214.8%5.5%4.6%
Dustin Pedroia.271.355.416.34111.3%11.8%3.0%

As expected, Pedroia holds the edge against left-handed pitching this season. His .523 OBP ranks first in the majors and his .417 average ranks third. However, it's important to note that Pedroia currently holds a ridiculously high .437 BAbip(Batting Average on Balls In Play) against lefties. Only two other players in the American League with more than 100 PA against lefties have a BAbip over .400: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers with a .408 BAbip in 128 PA versus lefties, and Michael Bourjos of the L.A. Angels with a .418 BAbip in 118 PA. Pedroia's BAbip vs. LHP was .288 in 2009 and .266 in his injury shortened 2010 season; his career BAbip versus southpaws is .323. A correction in the next couple months could start to rein in those numbers.

Pedroia has also made good use of the short wall in left field at Fenway, particularly against lefties. In 78 plate appearances, his line is .455/.526/.742 with a .482 BAbip. In his previous three seasons combined at home versus lefties, Pedroia has .335 BAbip. While Fenway does tend to inflate BAbip, it's more than likely that Pedroia has benefited from a little luck as well.

Robinson Cano has fared as expected against righties; his 4.6% home run rate is about a 44% increase over his previous three year average. And his 3 triples off lefties this season matches his combined total from 2009-10. His walk rate, however, is down from 8.8% in 2010 to 5.5%. Meanwhile, his 14.8% strike out rate is a 47% increase from 2010 when he struck out in 10.1% of his PA versus RHP. Contributing to this problem has been Cano's propensity to swing at more pitches out of the zone. His current 37.4% chase percentage versus RHP ranks in the bottom 8% of the league.

Struggles and surges aside, the Yankees and Red Sox will look to their second baseman to help lock down a playoff spot down the stretch. And with both teams vying for top honors in the AL East, the production they get from their respective second baseman could be the difference maker.

Saturday
Aug062011

Mike Napoli's Month

Mike Napoli (TEX) has been the most productive hitter in the last month of baseball.  His .567 wOBA since July 6th leads the majors and is 85 points better Hideki Matsui (OAK) in second place on the list.

(Click to enlarge)
Over that span, Napoli has drilled 8 home runs and 7 doubles, while walking 8 times in 80 PA.  His 11.1% HR rate also leads all players since July 6th.  His HR/FB rate of 29.6% is third behind only Marlins' Mike Stanton (39.1%) and Rays' Ben Zobrist (30.0%).

Wednesday
Jul272011

Neftali Feliz Missing His Spots

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz entered last night's game against the Twins with an 8-7 lead. Six batters, a walk and three hits later, Feliz got the hook from manager Ron Washington with Texas now trailing by a run. After eviscerating hitters in 2009 and 2010, the 23-year-old righty has suffered his share of meltdowns this season.

His strikeout rate is down, his walks are up, and on the whole, he's leaving the Rangers in a worse position to win ball games. Feliz punched out about 9.9 batters per nine innings between 2009-2010, but that K rate has dropped to 6.2 per nine in 2011. His walk rate, 2.3 per nine entering this year, has shot up to 4.8 BB/9. Feliz previously ranked among the game's best in Win Probability Added, a stat measuring how a player affects his team's chances of winning based on things like score, inning and base/out state. But Feliz has a negative WPA in 2011, meaning he's doing more harm than good on the mound.

Superficially, it's hard to figure out why Feliz is scuffling. He's still slinging upper-90s heat, and batters are still coming up empty when they swing. Feliz's 25.2 percent miss rate this year is down from his 26.6 percent mark in 2009-2010, but not alarmingly so. The big problem is that hitters aren't swinging as much against Feliz, and that's because he's missing the zone more often.

Feliz placed 49.6 percent of his pitches in the strike zone in 2009-2010. This year, he has hit the zone 46.3 percent. He's missing to the arm side more often in 2011:

Feliz's pitch frequency by location, 2009-2010

Feliz's pitch frequency by location, 2011

Hitters aren't chasing as many out-of-zone pitches this year, either. Look at opponents' swing rate on would-be balls against Feliz in 2009-2010 and 2011:

 Opponent chase rate against Feliz's pitches, 2009-2010

Opponent chase rate against Feliz's pitches, 2011

Opponents aren't going after quite as many pitches high out of the zone, and they're almost entirely laying off that spot to Feliz's arm side where he's missing so often. Overall, batters are chasing 27.7 percent of Feliz's pitches, compared to 30.3 percent in 2009-2010.

Feliz is missing his spots, and hitters are showing discipline by taking those pitches for balls. That, in turn, has led to more favorable counts: Feliz fell behind 17.5 percent of the batters that he faced in 2009-2010, but that figure is up to 24 percent this season. It's hard for a pitcher to rack up Ks, limit walks and close the door in the ninth when he's working out of 1-0 and 2-1 counts.