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Feldman Avoiding Hitters' Hot Zones

Who would've thought that the Texas Rangers' pitching MVP to this point in the postseason would be Scott Feldman? The sidearm reliever-turned-starter-turned swingman, who pitched just 32 regular season innings and missed four months while recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, has a 9/0 K/BB ratio and has yet to surrender a run in 8.1 playoff innings.

Feldman has pounded the strike zone this postseason, placing 60 percent of his pitches over the plate (the league average is 48-49 percent). His control has been great, but his command has been even better. Feldman is putting the ball in spots where hitters typically don't do much damage.

The right-hander has faced 30 hitters so far in the playoffs: 20 righties and 10 lefties. Versus same-handed batters, Feldman is hugging the outside corner:

Feldman's pitch location vs. RHBs during the 2011 playoffs

For most right batters, it's hard to put a good swing on a pitch thrown to that location by a righty pitcher. Check out the league average in-play slugging percentage for righty hitters against righty batters:

League average in-play slugging percentage by pitch location for RHBs vs. RHPsRighties slug just .273 on pitches thrown outside by right-handed pitchers, compared to .468 on pitches thrown down the middle and .442 on inside pitches.

Feldman is mostly going low-and-away against lefties, throwing the occasional inside pitch to keep them on their toes:

Feldman's pitch location to LHBs in the 2011 playoffs

Lefty hitters fare poorly when a right-handed pitcher can locate low and away. Here's the average in-play slugging percentage for lefty hitters against righty pitchers:

League average in-play slugging percentage by pitch location for LHBs vs. RHPsLeft-handed hitters slug .309 on low-and-away pitches thrown by righties, compared to a .375 overall slugging percentage against right-handers.  

Maybe we should have seen Feldman's postseason excellence coming. After all, how can a hitter possibly hope to combat such a perfectly crafted playoff beard? Eat your heart out, Brian Wilson.

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