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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)


Nelson Cruz Looks Lower

Nelson Cruz tied a major league record by hitting homers in each of the first four Texas Rangers game of the season.  The Texas outfielder showed impressive power during the three previous seasons, slugging .565 during the period.  Nelson concentrated his power in the upper half of the strike zone:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2008-2010.Not surprisingly, pitchers tried to work him down and away:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2008-2010.Pitcher probably don't get the ball down as much as they'd like against Nelson, but you can see the intent in the heat map.

In 2011, they tried the same thing:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2011.So far, they are doing a very good job of working Nelson down.  What they didn't count on was Cruz making an adjustment:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2011.Instead of waiting to crush a high pitch, Nelson went down and got the low pitches.  The pitchers were following their scouting report and got burned.  It may be that Nelson just got lucky.  It's early in the season and anything can happen in a few at bats.  It would make sense, however, for Cruz to learn to hit where the pitchers are working, so it may be time for the scouting report to change.


Texas Rangers Offense through April 5th

The Texas Rangers' have started the 2011 season with some very hot hitting, and are 4-0 as a result.

Batters In Play SLG% through April 5th
(Click to enlarge)

Nelson Cruz, who became the third player in MLB history to homer in each of his team's first four games of the season, is sporting a 28.6% home run rate, while Ian Kinsler has already gone deep 3 times.  Considering that Josh Hamilton has yet to leave the yard, the Rangers' in play SLG% heat map is even more impressive. 

The only haven for opposing pitchers so far has been down in the zone where Rangers' batters have averaged only .153 and slugged .340.


Napoli's Platoon Split

Mike Napoli homered off Jon Lester Friday afternoon to help the Rangers to a 9-5 win over Boston in the season opener for both teams. In the last three season, Mike, a right-handed batter, owns a large platoon difference, hitting .304 against southpaws and .239 when the pitcher holds the platoon advantage.  Graphically, it looks like this:

Mike Napoli versus left-handed pitchers, 2008-2010.Mike Napoli versus right-handed pitchers, 2008-2010.

What accounts for the difference.  The answer may lie in how pitches tend to move from the various pitchers.  Right-handed batters tend to throw pitches that move away from Napoli:

Mike Napoli, pitch movement from RHP, 2008-2010.Lefties, on the other hand, throw pitches that tend to move toward Mike:

Mike Napoli, pitch movement from LHP, 2008-2010.So what kind of movement does Mike see when he gets a hit versus making an out?

Mike Napoli, pitch movement on hits, 2008-2010.Mike Napoli, pitch movement on outs, 2008-2010.Mike is much more likely to get a hit on a pitch that's moving in than a pitch that's moving away.  Since lefties then to throw toward Mike, it's not surprising he hits them better.  Where does Lester put the ball?

Jon Lester Movement, 2008-2010.It was a perfect matchup for Napoli.