Know your Rays: swinging at the fastball (roundup)

J. Meric

A very fun game.

Previous days: Monday (Ben Zobrist), Tuesday (Evan Longoria), Wednesday (Desmond Jennings), Thursday (Matt Joyce), Friday (James Loney), Saturday (Yunel Escobar)

Sunday: For the past six days, we've seen players with an identifiable approach in their swing pattern. They have a plan, and they work their plan. On Sunday, we saw something different -- something ugly. This player's approach against lefties is actually just fine. He swings at their fastballs over the middle of the plate, and he's also aggressive, trying to pull the fastball in on his hands. He does let an awful number of strikes go by in the bottom and the far side of the zone, but the flip side of that is not swinging at balls outside of the zone, it's a trade-off that may be worthwhile.

Against right-handed pitchers, though, it's clear that this player simple doesn't see the ball very well. If the fastball is located outside of the zone, he's more likely than the average player to swing at it. If the fastball is located inside the zone, he's less likely than the average player to swing at it. That's a bad combination, and the result is bad as well. This player has a career 113 wRC+ against left-handed batters, but only a 67 wRC+ against righties. This player is Sean Rodriguez.

No one got this puzzle right. Most people chose another Ray who struggles against righties, Jose Molina. One key difference, though, is that Molina is not much of a platoon player. He also struggles against lefties, and his approach against righties and lefties is pretty much the same. Take a look:

Jose Molina vs. LHP:

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via www.baseballheatmaps.com

Jose Molina vs. RHP:

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via www.baseballheatmaps.com

Against fastballs from pitchers of either handedness, Molina's approach is almost indistinguishable: slightly more aggressive than the norm inside the zone, and very much more aggressive than the norm outside of it. It's not an approach that works very well, but Molina isn't here for his bat.

The winner of the first week was Andy Hellicksonstine, with four out of six correct answers. DBullsfan placed second with three out of six. Frankly, I'm impressed. It's easy for me to look at the chart, know who the player is, and say what's going on, but actually figuring it out from the colors seems pretty hard. I'm going to handle these prizes in terms of beers I owe at an eventual meetup. Tally starts at AH 1.

New competition starts later today.

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