New York Yankees: Adrian Gonzalez

W2W4: Red Sox at Yankees (Aug. 17)

August, 17, 2012

We thought we’d try something different for this installment of What2Watch4: Rather than look at the key notes for each of the starting pitchers, we’re going to focus on four of the hitters, two from each team, and look at their strengths and weaknesses heading into this series.

How do you get Derek Jeter out?
Jeter enters tonight’s game with a 12-game hit streak and has been one of the league’s top hitters this month with a .373 batting average.

Jeter has been even better in August against lefties, with 10 hits in 23 at-bats (.435). If the southpaw Franklin Morales wants to get Jeter out tonight, he should to try to come inside against The Captain.

Of the 13 outs Jeter has made against lefties in August, 10 have come on pitches located on the inner half of the plate or further inside, and all 10 of those have been ground-ball outs.

-- Katie Sharp

How do you get Nick Swisher out?
Swisher has had success against Red Sox southpaws the last two seasons, as noted in the chart on the right.

He’s particularly hurt them when they’ve tried to come inside against him, netting six hits in nine at-bats that ended with a pitch over the inner-half of the plate width-wise, almost never chasing those thrown out of the strike zone.

The best success that lefties have had against Swisher is when they keep the ball down.

Since the start of the All-Star break, Swisher has seen 76 pitches that were in the lower-third of the strike zone or lower height-wise and does not have a hit.

-- Mark Simon

How do you get Adrian Gonzalez out?
Gonzalez has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the All-Star break, batting an AL-best .378. He’s hit well both against lefties (.333) and righties (.403), and appears to have few holes in his swing right now.

Phil Hughes could try to bury a pitch low and out of the strike zone, where Gonzalez is just 4-for-25 (.160) since the break. But if he misses his location, watch out. Gonzalez is hitting .576 and slugging .909 on pitches at the knees in the strike zone.

Hughes’ best bet might be to go with his signature high fastball. Gonzalez is hitting .214 on fastballs thrown in the upper third of the zone or higher in the second half of the season. However, a mistake could be costly. Two of the three hits Gonzalez has on those pitches have been home runs.

-- Katie Sharp

How the do you get Pedro Ciriaco out?
Take a look at the heat map on the right. It may be the strangest one we’ve come across all season.

It’s not a misprint: Ciriaco can hit almost everything, except for the pitch thrown over the middle of the plate.

That heat map shows how he’s fared against both righties and lefties. The one for only righties has one other weak spot, middle-in.

But Yankees pitchers should be forewarned. The 18 outs in the 1-for-11 and 2-for-10 areas are not the result of swings-and-misses. Ciriaco can put the ball in play.

The hits just haven’t fallen for him yet.

The optimum strategy at this point seems to be to pitch him down and away, though it’s a high-risk, high-reward scenario.

Ciriaco has had seven at-bats end with a pitch thrown lower-third, outer-third (or further away) and netted five hits. But he also misses on those swings 50 percent of the time.

-- Mark Simon

W2W4: Yankees at Red Sox (Friday)

July, 6, 2012
Hiroki Kuroda has excelled against left-handed hitters recently

Hiroki Kuroda Stats To Watch
Kuroda has pitched like an ace in his past seven starts, with a 1.65 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 49 innings.

He has held lefties to a .211 average with just one home run allowed during that span, after hitters posted a robust .330 average and slugged .530 against him in his first nine starts this season.

Also worth noting: Kuroda is 5-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 13 starts at night. In his three afternoon starts, he’s 3-0 with no runs allowed in 23 innings.

Robinson Cano Stats To Watch

Robinson Cano during his hitting streak

Cano is in the midst of a tremendous tear, with an RBI in each of his last eight games.

If he can get an RBI in each of his next three, he’d match the Yankees record for consecutive games with an RBI, shared by Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.

After getting off to a slow start this season, Cano is hitting .350 with 19 home runs since May 6.

He’s also 20-for-his-last-45 with five home runs during an 11-game hitting streak.

Josh Beckett Stats To Watch
This will be Beckett’s first start against the Yankees this season. He made five starts in 2011, winning four of them and getting a no-decision in the others. He’s won five straight decisions against the Yankees overall. The last Red Sox pitcher with a longer winning streak against the Yankees was Reggie Cleveland (seven straight, 1975 to 1977)

Beckett returned from a two-week absence and allowed two runs in six innings in a no-decision against the Mariners.

The Red Sox have lost Beckett’s last four starts, scoring only seven runs in those four games. That skid matches the longest that the Red Sox have had in Beckett’s starts. They also had a four-game losing streak in Beckett starts in 2006.

One more loss for Beckett would be his eighth of the season. He hasn’t had eight losses in a single season since 2008, when he had 10.

Beckett handled three Yankees very well last year. Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez were a combined 1-for-30 (with four walks) against him. They missed on 14 of their 31 swings against Beckett’s off-speed pitches.

David Ortiz Stats To Watch

David Ortiz's home runs in 2012

The Yankees should avoid the inner third of the plate when pitching to Ortiz this weekend.

Ortiz has hit 22 home runs this year and 11 have come on pitches on inner-third of the plate or further inside.

Only two players -- Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera -- have more homers on inside pitches this season.

Ortiz has torched the Yankees this year with six hits, including a homer and a double, and zero strikeouts in eight at-bats.

He's 0-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in his career against Kuroda.

Adrian Gonzalez Stats To Watch
Gonzalez has gone from being one of the best home-run hitters in baseball to minimal home run production in just two seasons. Gonzalez averaged 34 home runs a season for the Padres from 2007 to 2010. He hit 27 in 2011 and has only six in 2012.

The heat map below looks at the area in which Gonzalez was likely/unlikely to get an extra-base hit in 2010 versus the areas in which he was likely/unlikely to hit doubles, triples, and home runs in 2012. (Red being high likelihood; Blue being low likelihood -- based on Isolated Power by pitch location).



Masahiro Tanaka
12 2.51 135 129
BAJ. Ellsbury .291
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 58
OPSJ. Ellsbury .777
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135