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Entries in Joakim Soria (2)


Soria Steps Down as Royals' Closer

Aaron Crow has replaced struggling Joakim Soria as the Kansas City Royals' closer.  Heading into Monday's game, opposing batters were hitting .288/.374/.463 against Soria.  He blew yet another save today (his second in two days) yielding 3 runs on 4 hits in the ninth inning versus the Los Angeles Angels.  The two-run HR he gave up to Torii Hunter was the 4th he's allowed this season which matches his 2010 total.

Right handed batters are a major source of Soria's troubles.  Through May 29th, they were hitting  .302/.388/.581 against him for a .412 wOBA.  In 2009 and 2010 combined, righties put up a measly .269 wOBA.  His location this season is likely a major reason why he's struggled against them.

(Click to enlarge)

Soria was pretty consistent at keeping the ball away from RHB over the last two years, getting beat mostly when throwing over the middle of the plate.  This season, he seems to be living in the middle, and is paying the price for it.  Specifically, Soria has been leaving his cutter middle-in to RHB.  From 2009-2010, righties mustered a .274 wOBA against his cutter.  This season, he's thrown 100 cutters to righties and his wOBA against on the pitch has risen 200 points to .474.

Getting his control over the cutter would go a long way towards helping Joakim Soria regain the closer's role in Kansas City.


Mariano Rivera's Pitch Frequency

With the first game of the ALCS less than an hour away, let's take a quick look at the pitch frequency for a player that has been so instrumental in the New York Yankees postseason success: Mariano Rivera.

As the heatmap below shows, Mariano Rivera has an amazing ability to command the strike zone.

Mariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency vs. All Major League RHP Notice how Rivera barely touches the middle of the plate.

Here are Rivera's Righty-Lefty heatmaps vs. the rest of the league:

Mariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency against LHB (439 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League PitchersMariano Rivera's 2010 Pitch Frequency against RHB (476 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League PitchersAs you can see from the top map, Rivera lives on the inside corner to lefty batters.  In fact, the majority of his pitches fall outside the designated strikezone.  Meanwhile, the rest of the league favors throwing down and away to LHB.

Against RHB, Mo spreads out his pitches a bit more.  However, notice how he barely ever throws to the middle inside part of the plate to righties.  He also busts righties up and in, again in contrast to the rest of the league.

As a matter of comparison, here are the pitch frequency heatmaps for 3 other AL closers:

Rafael Soriano's 2010 Pitch Frequency (890 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPJoakim Soria's 2010 Pitch Frequency (1086 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPNeftali Feliz's 2010 Pitch Frequency (1072 pitches) vs. All 2010 Major League RHPAll three of the above closers tend to pitch to the middle of the plate, a striking contrast to Rivera's pitch frequency.

Lastly, here's a look at Rivera's pitch frequency since 2008:

Mariano Rivera's Pitch Frequency since 2008