On my way to lunch today (Friday) I caught a bit of Bernie’s radio show to include his stat of the day segment.  This particular stat was about Matt Holliday’s ability to hit the inside fastball.  The basic gist was that Holliday is doing just fine on the inside fastball (albeit Bernie used BA as his stat of choice).  I thought it might be interesting to dig a little deeper using pitch F/X data.  I decided to take the plate in horizontal slices and calculate Holliday’s wOBA when he makes contact with pitches in the various slices.  The following chart is the result.

The horizontal location is referenced from the catcher’s perspective so the -1.5-1 is off the the plate inside.  Generally speaking the strike zone is more or less -1 to 1, so keep that in mind when you look at this chart.  My feel from the chart is that in general Holliday covers the entire plate pretty well on fastballs with the exception of off the plate inside.  Yes, he historically does a little better out over the plate, but it’s not a dramatic difference.  Ironically, so far this year he’s been better on the inner half.

This data was grabbed before the start of the Arizona series.

With Albert striking out more than normal I thought I would investigate the numbers some.  It appears to the untrained eye (i.e. me) that he is swinging at pitches out of the zone on a more frequent basis, and according to Fangraphs plate discipline stats he is.  This year Albert has a 30% O-Swing rate compared to a career rate around 20%.  With that in mind I thought I’d still an idea from Dave Allen to see if I could visualize the difference.  The following chart takes the swing percentage by location for 2010 – percentage from 2009.  Red means more swings this year, blue less, and the color intensity equates to magnitude of the difference (click to enlarge)

This is from the catcher’s perspective and the numbers in bold on the perimeter are the pitch f/x location parameters. A generic strike zone is outlined in black. From the chart it appears that Albert is going out of the zone on pitches above the zone and off the plate away.  Clearly this years data is still a small sample size, but this does seem to concur with what my eyes are seeing.

There’s been talk across the internet via various folks twitter feeds and blogs about Carp’s velocity being down this year.  I had looked into it a little earlier in the year, but figured now was a good time to look again.  I thought the following chart might tell the story

It has velocity across the x axis and the frequency at which he hits that velocity according to pitch f/x up the y axis.  Clearly, as has already been discussed many times, he’s sitting at 91-92 this year as opposed to 93-94 last year, but more interesting to me is he hasn’t had the 95-97 in the holster when he’s needed it this year.  All that being said, I wanted to see how this year compared to other years in Carp’s history.  Looking at his pitch types info on Fangraphs, it looks like last year was the aberration as back in 04-06 he was averging around 91-92 on his fastball, which is in line with this year so far.

If you frequent here you’ll notice I switched up the post title.  I think I’m going to use this one (Birds on the Brain) for the mini research pieces on the Cards, and use the Around the Diamond posts as link hubs around the inter-webs (both Cardinal and non-Cardinal).  OK, now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

There’s some teeth gnashing going on over the health of Felipe Lopez’s elbow.  Personally I think there are 2 simple solutions.

  1. If it’s bad enough that Lopez can’t play, then DL him and call up Tyler Greene
  2. If he can still PH and/or play 2nd then send down Craig or Stavinoha and call up Greene

As a point of comparison here are the log 5 win percentages for the opener of the Braves series given the starting SS being either Boog, FLIP, or TG.  For Felipe I assumed -4 defense, for TG I assumed -3.

Boog FLIP TG
Braves 0.467 0.468 0.474
Cards 0.533 0.532 0.526

Clearly there’s a difference, but I think TG could hold his own enough to be a viable backup while Lopez is mending.  I see little downside in sending down a corner only OFer (when we have two such guys) and bringing up an IFer for a couple of weeks.

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