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Entries in Yankees (14)

Tuesday
Nov022010

Phil Hughes' 2010 Cutter

Phil Hughes' season was neither awful, nor spectacular. After a great first couple of months, Hughes slipped a bit with a stretch of less than optimal starts. And despite what the media might say, his problems were probably not caused by a skipped start in June.

I wanted to take a look at Phil's cutter to see if there was any noticeable change throughout the season. Here are a few heatmaps along with some interesting data points.

Phil Hughes' Cutter, April & May

On the left, you can see all the hits coming off Hughes' cutter and their locations in the field throughout April and May this season. On the right, you can see the movement on his cutter. This is determined as the pitch is crossing the plate. The x-axis indicates 13 feet per second drop from a pitch as it crosses the plate, with each grid line equaling 4 ft/sec (one line above the axis would equal 9 ft/sec in downward movement, one line below equals 17 ft/sec). The y-axis equals 0 ft/sec in horizontal movement.

So the above heat map indicates that Hughes' cutter in April and May had an average downward movement of 12.5 ft/sec and a right to left movement averaging 7.8 ft/sec. Here are the heat maps for the rest of the season.

Phil Hughes' Cutter, June & July

Phil Hughes' Cutter, August, September & October (regular season only)

The first thing that stands out is Hughes' June and July heat map. He was not as consistent with his cutter's movement, as you can see the blue creep toward the center of the map a bit more. Same thing from August on, although not nearly as bad. In April and May, Hughes did not seem to throw any flat cutters, as you can see nothing at all nearing that y-axis of 0 ft/sec.

PAPH-PlateVelV-PlateVel
April - May752517.8-12.5
June - July511667.1-12.7
August - October331267.3-13.3

PA: Plate Appearances decided on a cutter
P: Cutters thrown
H-PlateVel: Horizontal movement in feet/sec
V-PlateVel: Vertical movement in feet/sec

Cntct%Fly-DistHRwOBA
April - May83.5%2892.276
June - July81.0%2993.493
August - October76.3%3093.385

Cntct%: Contact Rate (in play + foul / swings) on cutters
Fly-Dist: Fly ball distance on cutters

Interesting that Hughes got more swings and misses on his cutter as the season went on. In the middle of the season, Hughes' cutter had the lowest average right to left movement. Not surprising that he was hit hardest during that stretch. It's also interesting that Hughes' cutter had more drop as the season went on, almost an entire foot per second from the beginning of the season to the end. I'm not sure what exactly this tells us, if much of anything at all. Perhaps it can be connected to a decrease in spin on his cutter, as he maintained an overall velocity of 89 mph on the pitch throughout the season. It could also be attributed to a slight change in release point or delivery.

Sunday
Oct242010

Derek Jeter's Forgettable 2010

2010 saw a noticeable drop in Derek Jeter’s offensive production.  In 2009, Jeter hit .334/.406/.465, with 212 hits, 18 HR, 72 walks, and 90 strikeouts.  This year: .270/.340/.370, with 179 hits, 10 HR, 63 walks, and 106 strikeouts.  His wOBA dropped 67 points, from .390 to .323.  He also saw a drop in his line drive rate, 19.5% to 14.8%, accompanied by BAbip nearly 50 points below his career average.

The most obvious problem was the drop in power for Jeter this season.  His SLG% fell nearly 100 points from 2009.  Jeter does most of his damage out and over the upper half of the plate, where he can extend his bat and go the other way with the pitch.

Derek Jeter 2009 In Play SLG% VS. 2010 In Play SLG%

As you can see from the heat maps, Jeter did far less damage in his happy zone in 2010.  Also note how his power faded in the middle-in and middle-down areas of the zone as well.

Take a look at how pitchers threw to him this year as compared to last.

Derek Jeter 2009 Pitch Frequency vs. 2010 Pitch FrequencyThere’s a slight decrease in pitches thrown to Jeter in the top portion of the zone, as well as more pitches inside in 2010.  I’m not sure if this can account for some of his troubles this year, but perhaps teams were increasingly pitching Jeter inside in order to limit his “Jeterian” swing.  If he’s experiencing a decline in bat speed, this would obviously contribute to his problems in getting around on inside pitches.

It’s no secret that Jeter has a tendency to swing early in counts, especially at the first pitch.  This season was no different.  In 2009, Jeter had 87 first pitch swings in 716 PA.  In 2010, 97 first pitch swings in 739 PA.  Unfortunately, his first pitch swings in 2010 were not nearly as successful.

Derek Jeter 2009 First Pitch Swinging VS. 2010But Jeter’s biggest problem in 2010 was right handed pitchers.  In 2009, Jeter hit .311/.381/.435 against RHP, nearly identical to his career line against righties (.307/.377/ .437).  This year he hit .246/.315/.317.

Derek Jeter facing RHP 2009 VS. 2010That’s a severe dropoff, to say the least.  As the Yankees look to resign Jeter this offseason, I doubt this one down year will affect negotiations much.  However, while it is reasonable to expect a bounce back year from Jeter in 2011, 2010 is probably a sign of what is waiting towards the end of his next contract.

Thursday
Oct212010

Robinson Cano's Postseason

How good has Robinson Cano been for the Yankees this postseason?  Last night he hit his 4th HR in the ALCS and raised his line to .387/.406/.871 with a .522 wOBA over 32 plate appearances.

Robinson Cano's ALCS In Play SLG%

The handedness of the opposing pitcher has made little difference for Cano as he's hit two HRs off LHP (both against C.J. Wilson in two different games) and two off RHP (Tommy Hunter, Game Two and Colby Lewis, Game Five).  In the regular season, 13 of his 28 homers came against lefties.

Two of Cano's postseason HRs and his one triple came on sliders.  This should come as no surprise as Cano has slugged .706 against sliders in 2010, first in the AL among LHB with a minimum of 50 PA featuring sliders.  His .420 wOBA against the pitch is second in the AL behind Justin Morneau.

Robinson Cano vs. Sliders in 2010

As the Yankees look to mount a comeback in the ALCS, they will need Cano to continue his outstanding hitting.  Of course, they better hope his back doesn't give out from carrying the team for 5 games.