The extremely awesome Jeremy Greenhouse wrote a post recently looking at how well hitters did when swinging at pitches thrown in different zones in 2009. He mostly just looked at the best and worst hitters in each zone, but was kind enough to provide a spreadsheet with all of the data, so I thought I’d put something up for the various Orioles players.
The graphics show what percentage of a players swings were at pitches in each zone, and the run value of those swings. The middle zone is a one square foot area, and the other zones extend out as far as need be (indefinitely). The percentages are as shown, and the run values are color-coded based on the following rubric:
As a base for reference, the average batter was a slight plus swinging at pitches in the middle zone, and a minus elsewhere. Also keep in mind that the run values are totals, and so a +5 on five swings (or a 5% swing percentage) is a little more impressive than a +5 on twenty-five swings (or a 25% swing percentage). Though one would be inclined to regress the rates in fewer swings to the mean more to get an idea of true talent level on pitches it a zone, so that cancels that out to a degree. In any case, enjoy the pretty colored graphics.
First up, here’s Nick Markakis:
Nick’s +6.8 runs on pitches in the down-middle zone was 4th best in baseball, and his +6.3 runs on pitches middle-away was also 4th best. My intuition is that the pitches away are the ones he serves to left-field so well, and the pitches down are the ones he drops the bat on and pulls for some power. That he was actually at -5.5 runs when swinging at pitches that were in the middle of the plate doesn’t seem good though.
Adam seems good on pitches up and out over the plate, but chasing those pitches down and away isn’t working out too well. Something to work on.
Nothing too extreme for Nolan, with his worst zone being -3.7 runs on pitches middle-in and his best zone being +3.2 runs on pitches down the middle. It seems that he took a more patient – find a pitch to hit – approach, seeing as how a larger proportion of his swings were on pitches that he should be swinging at (in the middle).
Felix only had a positive run value in one zone, and it wasn’t the one you’d expect (the average player was positive on pitches down the middle, and negative everywhere else). He was worst on pitches down and in (all three zone there), which is a bit odd for a left-handed batter (the stereotype is that that’s typically their hot-zone).
A lot of the pitches Luke swung at were out away from him, and that makes some sense since he handled them pretty well… as long as the pitcher elevated them just a little bit.
Here’s Brian Roberts, with the lay-out being for him as a left-handed batter (though it contains data for him from both sides of the plate):
Brian’s +9.9 runs on pitches in the middle-down zone was 2nd best in baseball, though while he was also good on pitches down the middle (+5 runs), he was not very good everywhere else – especially on pitches away.
Matt Wieters, also with the lay-out as a left-handed batter:
Wieters handled pitches up and away well, and was actually second to only Albert Pujols at +4.7 runs on pitches in that corner zone.
Here’s returning Oriole Miguel Tejada:
Looks like he could still turn on inside pitches a little, and handle “mistakes”. Tejada’s +6.7 runs on pitches down the middle was the highest of any of these players.
And finally, Garrett Atkins:
Atkins was the only guy for whom I had to pull out that darkest shade of blue, as he was at -10.1 runs on pitches in the middle-low zone. His one yellow zone was at +1.7 runs. When you like at the percentage of swings that were in the four corners though, Atkins had the best mark at just 17.5%. Luke Scott and Adam Jones were worst in that regard, at 24.9% and 24.4% respectively.
I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions for the presented data, but I thought it was interesting to look at. And just for fun, here’s Albert Pujols:
So I guess try to keep the ball down and away. But don’t miss.