Games » Texas RangersMay26
Pitches have three qualities: velocity, movement and location. People focus on velocity because it’s easiest to measure, but movement and location are just, if not more, important. (Think Dan Quisenberry.)
When Luke Hochevar tries to dial it up, he loses the downward movement on his fastball. Hitters get a look at the side of the ball instead of the top. Luke seems to have figured this out: Harder isn’t always better, and he’s doing a better job of avoiding those big-inning blowups.
Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and I started talking about situational hitting and the stats that reflect failure or success in those plate appearances. He said he was looking for success in situational at-bats (moving the runner over from second with nobody out, getting bunts down, driving runs in from third with less than two outs, etc.) 60 to 70 percent of the time.
In quality plate appearances (hits, walks, hit by pitch, eight-pitch at-bats, hard-hit outs, etc.) he was looking for a .350 to .425 average.
The Royals are currently successful .660 of the time in situational at-bats and have a quality plate appearance average of .437, but people (and that includes me) are under the impression the Royals don’t do very well in those categories.
Seitzer thinks people tend to remember failure more than success and to make his point, he gave me the team stats in those situations. Here they are from the beginning of the season through May 25:
Total plate appearances: 1,767 Quality plate appearances: 767 Quality plate appearance average: .434 Base on balls: 126 8+ pitch plate appearance: 48 Hard-hit outs: 104 K looking: 57 (indicates someone who is guessing or being too selective) K swinging: 192 2nd 0 outs, moving runner over: Yes 16/No 12 3rd, less than 2 outs, infield back: Yes 49/No 19 3rd, less than 2 outs, infield in: Yes 6/ No 15 Sac bunt, 1st only: Yes 11/No 1/Foul or miss 4 Sac bunt, 2nd only: Yes 5/No 0/Foul or miss 0 Sac bunt, 1st & 2nd: Yes 4/No 2/Foul or miss 4 Hit and run: Yes 6/ No 1/Foul or miss 0 Situational totals: Yes 97/No 50/Foul or miss 8 Situational batting average: .660
If these totals are correct (and I trust Kevin’s math a lot more than I do mine), public perception is off and maybe he’s right — it’s because people tend to focus more on the negative. (Hey, we don’t write a whole lot of stories about airplanes that land safely.)
Right on cue…
Another outstanding play…
The night before, Aviles made an outstanding play on Vladimir Guerrreo (it was one of the few balls he put in play that didn’t wind up in the parking lot). Mike ranged far to his right (he was still playing second at that point) and caught the ball on the shortstop side of the bag. Mike said even though Guerrero was running, Vlad’s not THAT slow and the throw needed to get there in a hurry.
I asked Mike if he was still trying to find the seams at that point (fielders rotate the ball in their glove until their fingers are across the fat part of one of the horseshoe shapes on a ball) and he said no. In an emergency, it’s go with what you’ve got and keep the throw up to give Butler a chance to adjust and catch it at first. (Next time you see an infielder make an error, consider the speed of the runner and whether the infielder needed to hurry.)
The box score shows Jason Kendall caught stealing home, but it happened because Scott Podsednik got picked off first. Scott was in a rundown between first and second. The thinking here is to make the defense throw the ball as many times as possible, hoping for a mistake. If the opposition is going to make a mistake, you’d like to get a run out of it, so Kendall broke for home. The runner at third does that when the ball is on its way to second, making for a long throw home.
It didn’t work, and Jason was out.