How do you pitch to Dustin Pedroia?

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
9:42
AM ET
The Stats & Information team offers a look at a key hitter on each World Series team and uses Next-Level data to analyze how he might best be approached by opposing pitchers. This article looks at Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia’s tendencies in 2013 run counter to those he’s shown in past seasons.

Pedroia has been hampered by a thumb injury in 2013 and his power numbers are down considerably. He only has nine home runs this season, down from the 21 he hit in 2011 and 15 in 2012.

But he still is a formidable threat at the plate.

How do pitchers get him out?

Up, up and away
Pitching Pedroia up in the strike zone used to be an unwise choice, but with Pedroia now less of a power threat, it makes sense to do so.

The chart on the right shows Pedroia faring worse against pitches in the upper-half of the strike zone and above.

Of the pitches in those locations that Pedroia has hit, the ball is not jumping off the bat. Our video-scouting service has credited Pedroia with hard-hit balls on only about 19 percent of the upper-half pitches that he made contact against.

From 2010 to 2012, that rate was 33 percent.

Last year Pedroia homered once every 93 pitches to that area. This year, it's once every 253.

Lefties especially should be intent on pitching Pedroia upstairs. Pedroia is hitting .191 (13-for-68) in at-bats against lefties that end with a pitch in the upper half of the strike zone or above this season.

He’s hitting .432 (57-for-132) against them on pitches thrown to the lower half of the zone or below.

Accept that there will be some long at-bats
Pedroia will frustrate opposing pitchers with his ability to foul pitches off. He had the second-highest foul-ball rate in baseball - 42.7 percent - in the regular season and ranked ninth in the majors with an average of 4.19 pitches per plate appearance.

Pedroia is a good hitter in two-strike counts. His .283 batting average and 84 two-strike hits both ranked second in the majors in the regular season.

If you want to get Pedroia out with two strikes, you’re better off throwing him a fastball than an offspeed pitch.

Pedroia hit .312 in two-strike at-bats ending with an offspeed pitch this season, nearly double the major-league average of .159.

His miss rate of 14 percent was less than half the major-league average of 29 percent.

The best defense
Pedroia hits about 20 percent of his ground balls to the opposite field so he’s not someone who would necessarily warrant a shift.

The one adjustment a defense might consider making is playing Pedroia to hit the ball in the air the other way in the games at Busch Stadium.

Pedroia has about as many balls hit in the air to the left side as he does to the right side in Fenway Park this season, which makes sense, given how the Green Monster is a hitter-friendly target.

On the road, Pedroia when Pedroia hits the ball in the air, he’s more than twice as likely to hit it to the right side of the field (45 percent) as he is to pull it (21 percent).

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