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Entries in Troy Tulowitzki (7)

Wednesday
Sep212011

Looking When it Counts

White there are plenty of selective hitters in Major League Baseball, there is one count in which batters need to take with certainty, 3-2.  Take a ball and in that count and win a free pass to first base, take a strike and walk back to the dugout.  During the last four seasons, 101 players took at least 100 pitches on a 3-2 count.  The following table shows the hitters who took the highest percentage of walks, or taking ball four:

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Albert Pujols 9.4% 90.6%
Brian Roberts 8.5% 90.6%
Dustin Pedroia 8.7% 90.4%
Adrian Gonzalez 9.9% 90.1%
Joey Votto 11.0% 89.0%
Miguel Cabrera 10.3% 89.0%
David Ortiz 11.0% 88.4%
Derek Jeter 11.4% 87.9%
Luke Scott 11.4% 87.6%
Andrew McCutchen 12.5% 87.5%

 

I'm not surprised that sluggers like Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto are near the top of the list.  Often, pitchers will work carefully to these batters, since throwing the a strike might result in a home run.  It's better to try to get them to chase an outside pitch, but these sluggers have an excellent eye for the strike zone.

Note that along with the sluggers are table setters like Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter. Their ability to work the count and draw walks makes them so valuable at the top of the order.  You may also notice that the Red Sox stock up on players with great strikeout judgement, as three of these hitters currently reisde in Boston.

At the other end of the spectrum are the hitters who strike out quite often.

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Drew Stubbs 28.4% 70.6%
Andruw Jones 26.2% 73.8%
Mike Cameron 25.0% 75.0%
Troy Tulowitzki 23.8% 76.2%
Jack Cust 22.1% 77.9%
Jorge Posada 22.0% 77.1%
B. J. Upton 21.7% 77.9%
David DeJesus 21.6% 78.4%
Hanley Ramirez 21.6% 77.8%
Dexter Fowler 21.6% 77.6%

 

Note that there are a number of good, or formerly good hitters in this list.  Jorge Posada saw his hitting prowess fade this season, but he still reached base at a good clip the last few years.  Troy Tulowitzki rates as the outstanding hitting shortstop in the majors, and Hanley Ramirez held that distinction in previous seasons.  With the exception of B.J. Upton, these are players that are very good, but have more flaws that the group at the top.  It seems that the willingness to take on 3-2 indicates a selective hitter, regardless of how well the 3-2 looks turns out.

Tuesday
Sep202011

Two-Strike Survivors

When a hitter gets two strikes against him, odds are he's toast. The league average Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) with two strikes is just .236, compared to .314 overall in 2011. Put another way, a hitter turns into a Tsuyoshi Nishioka clone when in the pitcher's clutches. But some batters have managed to wiggle out of those two-strike situations pretty often. Here's a look at the 10 batters with the highest wOBAs in two-strike counts:


1. Mike Napoli, .386

2. David Ortiz, .367

3. Jose Bautista, .348

4. Miguel Cabrera, .348

5. Jacoby Ellsbury, .339

6. Marco Scutaro, .337

7. Prince Fielder, .336

8. Carlos Lee, .335

9. Troy Tulowitzki, .322

10. Curtis Granderson, .322

 Not surprisingly, the best two-strike hitters list includes some of the best hitters in the game overall. Granderson has gone deep a major league-leading 20 times in two-strike counts this season. Bautista (14), Ortiz (13), Napoli (11), Cabrera (11) and Ellsbury (10) have also hit double-digit homers with two strikes.

If there's a common thread among these guys, it's that they do a better job than most of not chasing pitches off the plate. When hitters have less than two strikes against them, they're fairly selective:

League average swing rate by pitch location with less than two strikes

Batters swing about 39 percent of the time overall with less than two strikes, chasing 22 percent of pitches out of the zone. With two strikes, however....

      

League average swing rate by pitch location with two strikes

..Hitters swing 61 percent of the time, including 39 percent of the time on out-of-zone pitches. But, with the exception of Fielder, our two-strike survivors have chase rates below the league average:

Napoli: 38% chase rate with 2 strikes

Ortiz: 37%

Bautista: 35%

Cabrera: 36%

Ellsbury: 25%

Scutaro: 38%

Fielder: 48%

Lee: 37%

Tulowitzki: 34%

Granderson: 40%

As is the case in other counts, it appears that one of the keys to success with two strikes is learning to lay off pitches at the eyes and the ankles. Or, be Prince Fielder. Either will work just fine.

Tuesday
Aug092011

Top Two Strike Hitters by wOBA

Min. 100 Two Strike Plate Appearances (Click image to enlarge)

There is no shortage of good hitters in the top 10 of this list.  Some notables that didn't make the cut: Chris Iannetta of the Colorado Rockies (.322) has the the highest walk rate (21.5%) of all major leaguers with two strikes....Yankees' Curtis Granderson (.316) has 5.1% HR rate, 4th behind Cabrera, Tulowitzki, and Berkman....Victor Martinez (.328) of the Detroit Tigers has a .310 batting average in two strike counts, best in the majors.