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Entries in Washington Nationals (19)

Monday
May142012

HR Recap: Joey Votto (5/14/2012)

Joey Votto hit three home runs against the Washington Nationals yesterday afternoon, the last one a walk-off grand slam versus Henry Rodriguez.  All three homers came on pitches in very different parts of the strike zone.

Here's a look at Votto's ISO heat map prior to Sunday's outburst, beginning in 2010:

 (Click to enlarge)

The first home run Votto hit came on an Edwin Jackson fastball that sat right in the middle of the zone:

 May 13th, 1st inning HR

May 13th, 4th inning HRVotto's second HR came on a Jackson changeup a bit outside his normal power zone. It was the sixth HR that Votto has hit off a changeup since the start of the 2010 season.

May 13th, 9th inning HRWith two outs and the bases loaded in the 9th and the Reds trailing by one run, Votto launched this 2-2 fastball from Henry Rodriguez over the center field wall. Unlike the first HR which was right in the middle of the zone, or the second HR which was low in the zone, this pitch was fairly high.  However, it was still an area that Votto has done well in.  On pitches up, Votto has a .272 batting average and .485 slugging percentage, and this ninth inning homer was his 13th on a high pitch since 2010.

Monday
Apr302012

Ian Desmond Seeing Sliders

Ian Desmond is seeing a heavy dose of sliders this season.  Last year, only 18.3% of the pitches he saw were sliders.  He also leads the league in sliders seen in pitcher's counts at 34.5%.

Oddly enough, Desmond is hitting .269 off sliders this season, which is about 50 points higher than league average.  Last season, he hit .222.  And while that was slightly below league average, it wasn't enough to explain why pitcher's are going hard after Desmond with the pitch this season.

It's possible teams are taking into account Desmond's struggles against sliders prior to 2011.  In his rookie season in 2010, Desmond hit just .165 against sliders, putting him in the bottom 16% of the league.  He also posted a lowly .191 slugging percentage on sliders that year, good for 6th worst in the majors.

So far, Desmond has been doing better against sliders. However, he is still chasing them out of the zone at high rate (37.8% in 2011; 45.8% in 2012). While the results have improved, a high chase rate will eventually catch up to him. Unless he learns to lay off those sliders that miss the zone, pitchers will continue to throw the pitch and his numbers will more than likely decline.

Monday
Apr302012

The Arrival of a Hero: Harper makes his Big League Debut

On Saturday April 29th, 2012, Washington Nationals fans witnessed a historic event, the debut of the prophesied savior of the yearly cellar dwellers of the NL East: Bryce Harper. This youth phenomn was the number one overall pick of the 2010 draft at the age of 18 and has been heralded as one of the greatest prospects of all time. After taking the fast track to the major leagues, Harper was called up to replace Ryan Zimmerman, who landed on the 15 day DL. 

In his first professional AB, Harper showed off the kind of hustle that most managers have to drive into their players on a day to day basis; on a slow ground out to the pitcher, Harper flew full speed down the baseline coming a stride from beating it out.

Later on in the game, Bryce picked up his first professional hit, stroking a double off the centerfield wall on a pitch left up in the zone. He also managed to pick up his first RBI, one that Nationals fans hope is the first of many to come. What's most impressive is that Harper saw seven pitches in that at bat, wearing down starter Chad Billingsley. 

If Harper continues to hit, the number 34 jersey could become a staple in Nationals park for the rest of the season. 

Harper's First Hit of the season(The next night, Harper followed up his debut with a single and a leaping catch against the wall on a Jaun Uribe fly out: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21027101&c_id=mlb)