Steve already touched on Jeremy Greenhouse’s fantastic work over at Baseball Analysts of using linear weights on strike zone location for 2009 batters, and found a disturbing trend that outside of Pujols, Holliday and Schumaker, the Cardinals seemed to have done an awfully poor job on smacking a pitch down the middle when it comes. I thought it would be fun to put together some visualizations of the entire zone for the main members of the lineup and their run values per 100 swings for the 2009 season.

Here ya go -

Skip made his hay off of driving pitches down the middle, but seemed to sort of struggle with everything else, and was especially susceptible to high and inside pitches.

Rasmus liked low and in, high and away, but didn’t do much with anything else.

So there was a glitch in The Machine, and that’s pitches low and away, and low pitches in general. It’s not as if Pujols will be legging out a lot of ground balls. Pujols loved middle-up and high and away.

Luddy really struggled with pitches up in the zone, especially up and in.

Holliday handled pitches with low and inside and low and down the middle pitches, something most batters struggle with. He murdered a lot of pitched down the middle.

Yadi can handle himself on the inside of the plate, so long as the pitch isn’t up. He struggled mostly with pitches outside, which struck me as odd, because my general impression of Molina is that he’s pretty good taking the ball the other way. You’d think pitches on the outer half would be the type of pitches he could slap to the right side.

Now the Boogameister. It’s a little surprising to see a ground-ball hitter and a fast runner like Ryan to do so poorly with low pitches.

I’m going to pass on the more depressing cast-aways (DeRosa, Greene, Thurston), but I couldn’t resist putting together a zone for Ankiel. Ank handled pitches down the middle, but was helpless on just about everything else.

This was fun. Sometime soon we’ll have to look at pitchers.

Only two Cardinals remain eligible for salary arbitration; the Cards have signed Todd Wellemeyer, Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson have all re-upped for another year. Let’s do a quick rundown: 

  • Todd Wellemeyer signed for $4.05 in his final year eligible for salary arbitration. While the stupid sector of fans continue to lambaste Mozeliak for taking his chances on low-hanging fruit, taking a flyer on The Colonel has certainly worked out rather well, hasn’t it? Consider this: Welley was traded by the Cubs for two minor leaguers who never panned out, then DFA’d by the lowly Marlins and again by the Royals. Dave Duncan worked his magic by helping Wellemeyer morph a respectable starter. I have serious doubts he’s going to repeat his 3.71 ERA, 32 starts from last season, but if he can hit 150 innings and manage his to make his CHONE projected 4.38 ERA, he’ll be worth double his salary.
  • Chris Duncan is a walking science experiment now with his new titanium disc. He says he feels as good as new, so it’ll be an interesting to watch, maybe his surgery will prolong a few more major leaguers careers.  Dunc signed for $825,000. If he can get to his CHONE projection (around 460 PA’s, .351 wOBA, terrible defense), I have him down for .8 WAR, worth $4M on the free agent market. With the OF as crowded as it is, and the uncertainty of how Metal Dunc will pan out, I scaled him back to 200 plate appearances, reducing him to .4 WAR, which is worth $2M on the FA market. 
  • Brad Thompson, $650,000. Kyle McClellan seems to have already bumped him out of the “6th starter” spot, and if the team keeps the normal two LOOGY’s on the roster, he looks like the odd man out for a roster. CHONE has him at .2 WAR, worth $1.4 M. I don’t think Puppy Kicker will get a whole lot of innings other than garbage time, but perhaps he’ll get a few spot starts here and there.

That leads us to the two outfielders, both due for a couple of good sized raises: 

  • Rick Ankiel asked for $3.3, the Cards countered with $2.35. Look, Ankiel has done it two years in a row now, just give him his money. I’ve guesstimated Ank to get 500 plate appearances and CHONE has him at a .345 wOBA good for 1.9 WAR. That’s worth about $9M on the free agent market, and Ankiel is just a year away from that. I know they try and compare apples with apples when working these contracts out. The problem is Rick is a mackinaw peach. :Flag! No more than 2 Seinfeld references per post!:  
  • Ryan Ludwick is asking for $4.25 M, a pretty hefty raise. The Cardinals offered only $2.8M, so they are worlds apart right now. Is Luddy Bubba Trammell or Jim Lemon? (Hat tip to Pip for coming up for the Lemon comp). I think he’ll get a healthy amount of playing time and CHONE has him projected at a .364 wOBA. If he can net that and 575 PA’s, I have him at 2.6 WAR, worth a fair market value of $12.3. Considering his service time is less than 4 years, I think $4.25 actually seems pretty fair. Of course, I have no idea as to what all goes into these negotiations, but I’m sure it’s not WAR and CHONE projections.

With the exception of Thompson, these players represent some pretty strong value to the team, a total of 6.6 wins above replacement according to my little spreadsheet. Hopefully the Cards get things done w/Ank and Luddy without having to resort to arbitration. It just doesn’t seem worth a whole lot of haggling with their agents at the expense of possibly hurting some feelings.

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