Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors


Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Two strikes (2)

Monday
Feb032014

A.J. Burnett Racks up Ks with New Two-Strike Approach

Now that he's committed to pitching in 2014, A.J. Burnett could well alter the playoff landscape -- and prove to be the best free agent value of the offseason. The 37-year-old is still at the peak of his abilities, punching out a major league and career-best 9.8 hitters per nine frames last season, he's looking for a short-term deal, and he won't cost teams a draft pick because the Pirates didn't make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer. Burnett could pitch every bit as well as, say, Masahiro Tanaka in 2014, and clubs won't have to commit the years and dollars that typically lead to free agent pitching deals exploding like cheap ACME bombs. He's basically the NL version of Hiroki Kuroda.

Just how did Burnett manage to post the best strikeout rate ever for a starting pitcher during his age-36 season this side of Randy Johnson (12.6 K/9) and Curt Schilling (10.4 K/9)? He drastically changed his two-strike approach against right-handed hitters, tossing more pitches off the plate and relying on hitters to hack their way back to the dugout.

In 2012, Burnett struck out 21.9 percent of the right-handed hitters that he faced. That was solid, but not all that far above the 20.1 percent major league average in righty-versus-righty confrontations.  Part of the reason for A.J.'s good-not-great K rate was that he threw nearly half (48.5 percent) of his two-strike pitches to righties within the strike zone. Most righty pitchers are less aggressive than Burnett was with two-strikes, looking for chases against same-handed hitters (the average zone rate in two-strike counts is about 42 percent).

Burnett's two-strike pitch location vs. righty hitters, 2012

In 2013, however, Burnett decided to bury more pitches in the dirt when righties had their backs against the wall. Hoping that same-handed hitters would retire themselves, Burnett tossed just 39.9 percent of his two-strike offerings within the strike zone. A lot of those off-the-plate pitches were curveballs, as he relied more on his hook with two strikes this past year (55.3 percent) than in 2012 (48.5 percent).  

Burnett's two-strike pitch location vs. righty hitters, 2013

Burnett's less aggressive two-strike approach paid off: righties chased considerably more pitches outside of the strike zone (41.6 percent, up from 30.5 percent in 2012) and whiffed more often (32.2 percent in 2013, 24.3 percent in '12). By baiting righties, Burnett increased strikeout rate against them to 29.6 percent. Among righty starters, only Yu Darvish (38.5 percent), Justin Masterson (32 percent), and Max Scherzer (31.6 percent) fooled right-handed hitters more frequently.

Possessing a mix of strikeout stuff and ground ball tendencies rarely seen -- the only other starters inducing at least a whiff per inning with a ground ball rate north of 50 were Masterson, Stephen Strasburg and Felix Hernandez -- Burnett could make all the difference for a number of playoff bubble teams. Whether he takes the bump in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philly or elsewhere in 2014, Burnett will have righties breaking out in a cold sweat once they're down to their final strike.

Wednesday
May162012

Top Hitters with Two Strikes

Most Hits with Two Strikes in 2012
RankPLAYERpaH2B3BHR
T1Adam Jones8324303
T1Derek Jeter7724600
3Josh Reddick8423400
T4David Ortiz7322304
T4Martin Prado8122410
T6Joe Mauer8521414
T6Rafael Furcal7621301
T8Mark Ellis7920201
T8Emilio Bonifacio10020510
T10Daniel Murphy7219310
T10Ryan Braun8219011
T10Bryan LaHair7419400
T10Prince Fielder7619704
T10Elvis Andrus8119503
T10A. J. Ellis7219404
T10Dustin Pedroia8319522
T17Edwin Encarnacion8917702
T17Joey Votto7817403
T17Jayson Werth6917202
T17Brett Lawrie7617301
T17Michael Bourn9217501
T17Michael Cuddyer8117100
T17Curtis Granderson9217003
T17Ian Kinsler8717111
T17Nelson Cruz8017200

Adam Jones has been on fire for the Baltimore Orioles. He's batting .302 with a .591 slugging percentage. And his .397 wOBA is 67 points higher than his 2008-2011 average. Jones is apparently doing much better with two strikes as well, as he's tied with Derek Jeter for the league lead in hits when one pitch away from a strikeout.

In 2011, Jones had 51 hits in two strike counts, and with not even a quarter of the current season finished he's almost half way there. His wOBA with two strikes between 2008 and 2011 was .245. In 2012: .388.

One possible reason for his success this year is that Jones has become more selective when down in the count. Between 2008 and 2011, Jones chased 54.0% of pitches out of the zone with two strikes. This season that number is down to 49.4%. Jones is also making more contact in two strike counts as his miss rate is down to 19.1% from 22.8% between the 2008 and 2011 seasons.

Of course, there's always a little bit of luck involved with balls in play, and Jones is no exception. His BABIP with two strikes is a rather high .408, compared to .312 between 2008 and 2011, and a .298 League Average BABIP with two strikes in 2012.