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Entries in pitchfx (9)


Big Game James

James Shields entered Monday's game against the Boston Red Sox with his team facing the possiblity of getting swept in four straight at Fenway.  He certainly stepped up, holding the Red Sox to no runs and four hits while striking out five over 8.1 innings.

James Shields vs. Red Sox LHB, April 16th, 2012James Shields vs. Red Sox RHB, April 16th, 2012Last year, Shields relied on his fastball only 35.3% of the time; fairly low compared to the league average of 46.2%.  Last night, he mixed up his pitches quite well, and in fact only threw 14 fastballs, accounting for just 14.8% of his total pitches.

In addition, Shields made sure to keep the ball away from righties yesterday, as you can see from the above graphic. Take a look at where RHB hurt him most in 2011:

James Shields vs. RHB, 2011 Regular SeasonShields really limited right-handed batters in 2011 by hitting that outside part of the zone. He followed this pattern yesterday and as a result, the Tampa Bay Rays got a much needed 1-0 victory.


Umpire Review: Opening Weekend (Part Two)

While Ed Rapuano's strike zone was bigger than any other umpire's during Opening Weekend, Tim Welke had the tightest strike zone gauged by missed strikes in the PitchFX defined strike zone.  In the April 5th game between the Blue Jays and the Indians, Welke had a 64.5% correct call rate inside the strike zone.  He missed 39 of the 110 PitchFX strikes, the majority of which came against lefty batters.

Tim Welke Called Strike Rate on Pitches inside the Strike Zone to left-handed batters (Blue Jays vs. Indians - 4/5/2012)For some reason, Welke was ignoring the lower inside part of the zone to lefties in that game. Granted, no other umpire on Opening Weekend had as many pitches in the zone to call. Welke's 110 strike zone takes were almost 40 more than any other umpire during Opening Weekend (in a game that was over 5 hours long).  Still, a 64.5% correct call rate is pretty low.

Welke's rate last year was 75.1%, which was the 6th lowest among all umpires. He's just not much of a pitcher's umpire.

On the flip side, Jerry Meals was perfect in his 2012 debut behind the plate in the Dodgers-Padres game on April 6th.

Meals correctly called all 45 pitches that hit the PitchFX strike zone. In addition, he incorrectly called just 13 strikes that were actually balls according to PitchFX data.  Although I would certainly love the implementation of a computerized strike zone at some point in Major League Baseball, I have to take my hat off to Jerry Meals for his performance this past weekend. He was the closest thing to a robot behind the plate as we've seen so far.


Ryan Braun Taking Advantage

Ryan Braun leads all 2011 Postseason participants with 13 hits. His .624 weighted on base average also leads the postseason along with his 25 total bases.  Braun has gone deep twice, one behind six players tied for first, and his two doubles put him in a tie for first with Albert Pujols.

Taking a look at how he's been pitched to so far, it's no surprise he's doing so well at the plate.

Click image to enlarge.

In the regular season, Braun did a lot of damage on balls over the middle of the plate, not surprisingly. But he also killed pitches down in the strike zone, as well as down and in at the knees.  So far in this postseason, pitchers have basically thrown to those locations.

The areas Braun had any difficulty with were pitches up and away and pitches inside.  However, as the heat map indicates, pitchers haven't thrown to those areas much.  In fact, they really haven't thrown Braun much of anything up in the zone at all.

If opposing pitchers continue to throw to Braun's strengths, don't expect his offensive output to slow any time soon.

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