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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)


Derek Holland set to anchor Texas Rangers Rotation

It looks like Derek Holland will be anchoring the Texas Rangers' starting rotation this season.  The left-hander has a nasty slider, by far the best pitch in his repertoire.  He had a 36.0% strike out rate on the pitch last season, and opposing batters hit a measly .128 against it with a .234 SLG%.

One of the reasons Holland has been so successful with the pitch is his ability to locate it.  Check out the pitch frequency on his slider last year:

Derek Holland's Slider 2010
(Click to enlarge)

Holland really came in on righties with the slider and managed to avoid leaving the pitch out over the plate.  The only HR he yielded on the pitch last season was to B.J. Upton where it hung right over the heart of the plate.  That one pitch had 4.6 feet per second of vertical movement, more than a foot less than he averages on his sliders.

Holland will really need to improve his fastball this season if he's going to have success in the Rangers rotation.  While his slider was clearly his out pitch, his fastball gave him a lot of trouble.  Righties really teed off on it, batting .355 off it with a .500 SLG% in 76 PA ending on the pitch.

Derek Holland's Fastball vs. RHB 2010
(Click to enlarge)

Holland located his fastball over the middle of the plate far too often last season. If he can tighten up his control a bit more, he'll have a much easier time setting up his slider on hitters.


How to strike out Josh Hamilton

How do you strike out last year's AL MVP, Josh Hamilton?  Well, over the last three seasons, 38.0% of all his strikeouts have been on fastballs, but only 59.7% of those were swinging.  However, of the 38.6% of his strikeouts recorded on curveballs or sliders, 91.7% were swinging.  And in his 458 total plate appearances decided on a slider or curveball, 26.4 percent have been strikeouts.

Josh Hamilton vs. Sliders/Curveballs 2008-10

(Click to enlarge)

So Hamilton manages fine against the junk overall, and he's been pretty successful when pitchers come in with it.  You can see that pitchers try to keep the curveballs and sliders away from him, and they do manage to keep his power down when they stay out of his wheelhouse.  However, Josh has been able to produce a .322 overall wOBA on all curves and sliders since 2008.

If pitchers are skilled enough to hit the outside edge of the zone with a slider or curve, they fair pretty well against Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton vs. Sliders/Curves within 4" of outside corner

(Click to enlarge)

In that 4 inch region, pitchers throwing a slider or curve have held Josh to a .313 slugging percentage with a 31.6% k-rate, and 1.7% home run rate. Josh gets a little more swing happy as well, as his swing rate jumps 6.0%. Against lefties in particular, he's only made contact on 47.3% of sliders/curves hitting that zone, resulting in a 40.0% k-rate and .155 SLG%.  So if you keep it sloppy, and keep it away, you have a better chance of keeping Josh Hamilton off the bases.


Offspeed Contact with Cruz

In 2009, Nelson Cruz made contact on offspeed pitches only 53.7 percent.  Last season, he improved that number to 69.3 percent.  The increased contact resulted in an OPS increase of .079.

Nelson Cruz vs. Offspeed Pitches
(click to enlarge)

Cruz's K-rate dropped 10.5 percent on soft pitches as a result of the increase in contact.  But as the increase in OPS indicates, the additional balls in plays were doing damage to opposing pitchers.  His OBP increased an additional .050 points as well.