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« Top Two Strike Hitters by wOBA | Main | Fielder Launching Rockets »

Sabathia's Boston Problem

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees pitched very well this season, except against the Boston Red Sox.  CC's problems occur on three of his four pitches; the fastball, the sinker, and the change up.  His problems are two-fold, in that his pitches miss the strike zone more, and the Boston hitters track his offerings better.

Overall, Sabathia does an excellent job of hitting the strike zone with those three pitches:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.He misses to the catcher's right hand, and close enough that batters will often go after those pitches.  Against the Red Sox, he misses wider:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency vs. Boston, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.CC also avoids the middle of the plate more, especially up.  The following table shows how these wide misses hurt Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011 All Teams Red Sox
In Strike Zone %
51.2 44.7
Strike % 67.5 61.8
Called Strikes %
35.2 29.7
Swing % 49.9 45.7
Miss % (of swings) 18.8 15.0
Chase % 31.4 27.0


The first three rows represent CC's break down.  He throws fewer pitches in the zone, and that leads to fewer strikes, mostly because there are fewer pitches to take for strikes.  The next three rows show how the Red Sox react to this.  A team of selective hitters, they swing less, especially since fewer pitches are in the strike zone.  Swinging at better pitches, (lower chase %) they make more contact (fewer misses).  That leads to this statistical disparity for Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011 All Teams Red Sox
Batting Average 0.262 0.357
On Base Percentage 0.323 0.373
Slugging Percentage 0.361 0.561
wOBA 0.303 0.417


Even a great pitcher can't afford to make too many mistakes against the Red Sox.

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