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Entries in Nelson Cruz (6)


Cruzin' for a Brusin'

Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers hit two home runs and a double Monday night, tying the game with his first home run and winning it in extra-innings with the first walk-off grand slam in playoff history.*

Cruz's power envelops the top and inside halves of the plate.


Nelson Cruz, in play slugging percentage, 2011 regular season.It makes sense then that pitchers try to work him low and away:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2011 regular season.The Tigers did not seem to get the memo, as they worked Nelson inside:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2011 ALCS game two.Three of those pitches ended up in his wheel house.

Nelson Cruz, in play slugging percentage, 2011 ALCS game two.Note that working him well inside was a good idea, as the only out he recorded was on an inside pitch off the plate.  Whether the pitches he crushed were meant to be more inside or more away, Tigers hurlers missed badly three times, and Nelson made them pay.


*Robin Ventura hit a walk-off grand slam in the playoffs, but due to a base running blunder, it only counted as a single.



Weaver Stikes Out Cruz

Watching Jered Weaver (LAA) battle Nelson Cruz (TEX) in the second inning Wednesday night, it stuck me that the plate appearance was a classic battle between a good hitter and a great pitcher.  Here is a graphic representation of the pitch sequence:

Jered Weaver strikes out Nelson Cruz, 4/20/2011.The diagram on the left shows the location of the pitches in the strike zone.  On the right the break of the pitch, how much it deviates from a straight line.  Weaver threw five straight fastballs to Curz.  The first three tried to get Nelson to go fishing outside the strike zone.  Jered started him with a pitch in the dirt, then tempted him outside.  Cruz did not buy the pitches, and put himself in an excellent position for the rest of the at bat, up 3-0 in the count.

Cruz knew he would get a strike on 3-0, and Weaver put the pitch up and in, and Cruz swung through it.  Weaver then took five miles off his fastball, dropping it from 90 to 85, and got another swinging strike.

Jered had now shown Cruz five straight fastballs. He had changed location and speed, but each exhibited the same break.  Weaver, if you will, had trained Cruz to follow the ball a certain way.  As I watched the final pitch, Weaver gave him the fastball motion, but snapped his wrist as he released the ball.  It was clear from the centerfield camera that the pitch was going to do something different.  You can see the difference in the break above, but it also was different in another dimension:

Jered Weaver strikes out Nelson Cruz, break and velocity.The last pitch came in at 79 MPH, taking a totally different patch to the same spot as the fifth pitch.  Cruz swung and missed, and Jered made a comeback from a poor start to another strikeout.

The pitch was classified as a slider, and Jered's slider has been his best K pitch this season.  He gets a 32.4% strikeout rate with his slider, the highest of any of his pitches.  He's struck out more batters with his fastball (15 to 13), but he used the fastball to end more PA 63 to 38 for slider.  He doesn't throw it as often, but when it comes after a number of fastballs, it's a very effective pitch.


InDepth Spotlight: Brad Penny vs. Nelson Cruz

(Click to enlarge)

The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers square off this afternoon.  Brad Penny will have his hands full with a dangerous Rangers lineup.  Keep an eye on the Penny and Nelson Cruz matchup.  The above graphic shows all data dating back to 2008.  Cruz gets a lot of big hits up in the zone, and Penny tends to give up more hits there.

It will be interesting to see if Penny tries to come in on Cruz at all.  He's been fairly successful hitting that low inside corner against right-handed batters, holding them to a .136 batting average and .227 slugging percentage since 2008.  However, Cruz has done a lot of damage on pitches down and in from righties over that same period, producing a .649 SLG% and a 10.5% home run rate.

Will Penny challenge him?

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