Know your Rays: swinging at the fastball (Saturday)

Who's behind the mask? - J. Meric

A very fun game.

Previous days: Monday (Ben Zobrist), Tuesday (Evan Longoria), Wednesday (Desmond Jennings), Thursday (Matt Joyce)

Friday: All of the players we've seen previously follow the same pattern. They'd rather swing at elevated fastballs than ones low in or below the zone, and against same-handed pitching, they're aggressive up and in and passive down and away (Zobrist doesn't show this part of the pattern because he's a switch hitter). And with the exception of Zobrist, they all hit the ball pretty hard, but also strike out pretty often. Yesterday's player is different.

This Ray, a lefty, actually lays off the fastball up and in on his hands, and offers at it at an above average rate down and away, both in and out of the zone. I believe this is what's called "protecting the plate." Against opposite-handed pitchers, he also guards the outside of the plate, and unlike our previous examples, he wants nothing to do with the fastball up above the zone (this is probably why he's a ground ball and line drive hitter).

There's one interesting situation where this Ray does resemble our previous examples, though. They all had a "take spot" in a location where, if they had misidentified the pitch and it was a breaking ball instead of a fastball, it would have been out of the zone. This Ray has a similar "take spot" down and in on against righties. That's the location where a breaker would be in on his back foot, and -- like the same-handed curve down and away -- it's a common way that pitchers attack hitters. This Ray is James Loney.

Loney's more defensive approach doesn't work as well against the fastball as our previous examples. From FanGraphs, he's been slightly above average against four-seamers, and slightly below avearge against two-seamers. Do note, however, that Loney has been only a slightly above average hitter throughout his career overall, so his average-ish fastball results should be expected. Also, he hasn't fared about the same against all of the common pitch types, so his approach may be well-optimized for his abilities.

Correct answers: TBRaysfan009, don't let Andy get you down, you had this one right! Brickhaus had this right as well.

Leader for the week so far: still Andy (3 of 5)

As with all of this week's puzzles, I've given you a graph from Jeff Zimmerman's Baseball Heat Maps, and you need to determine who's swing tendencies are being depicted.The two charts below show how often a Rays player swung at a fastball in different locations of the strike zone. They include all pitches classified by MLBAAM as FA, FF, and FT from 2007 through the present, and compare the player to league average. Green means that the player swung at a pitch in that location about as often as the league as a whole did. Blue and purple means that the player swung less often at a pitch in that location. Yellow and red means he swung more often.

Mystery Ray vs. left-handed pitchers:

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via www.baseballheatmaps.com

Mystery Ray vs. right-handed pitchers:

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via www.baseballheatmaps.com

Who is this mystery Ray?

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