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When truth broke in with all her matter-of-fact (Part 1)

Robbie Cano's career Batting Average on Balls in Play is .319, but this season it has plummeted to .236.  Jason Giambi had a productive 2006 despite his .245 BABIP, but Giambi's plate discipline makes him an exceptional player- Cano's game to this point has been tailored to "see it hit it" approach.

But pitchers have figured him out, and I'm wondering if we can figure out how.

Using Josh Kalk's 2008 Pitch f/x tool we have Robbie's up-to-date pitch selection info.  (If you haven't gone and played with it yet, go; it might be my favorite thing on the interwebs).

Much much more after the jump!

 

Robbie 2008:

type Speed (MPH) Break x (inches) Break z (inches) Balls Strikes Called Strikes Swinging Foul/Foul tip In play outs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Fastball 92.04 -3.72 10.2 124 62 10 76 70 13 3 0 1
Sinker 91.26 -2.97 6.09 19 5 0 13 8 4 0 0 0
Curveball 77.02 2.05 -4.58 13 6 5 9 13 2 1 0 0
Slider 82.13 -1.5 2.15 30 9 12 31 15 7 2 0 1
Change 82.67 -6.7 5.16 30 5 5 12 28 3 2 0 1
Cutter 88.57 -2.63 6.05 3 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0
Splitter 88.68 -0.74 9.17 8 5 3 9 5 0 0 0 0

Fx_medium

via baseball.bornbybits.com

Ok, I know that's a lot of data to process if you haven't been staring at graphs like this for hours at a time (Social life, you say?  I'm a blogger...).

I few big trends leap out at me:

  1. The ball has to be way out of the zone for Robbie not to swing, especially if the pitch is up and away.  I'm willing to bet that the only pitches he didn't swing at that were close are pitches he was completely fooled on but the pitcher missed his spot.
  2. He's had little to hit on the inside half of the plate, and nothing inside that's not 2-3 inches off the plate.
  3. There are a ton of called strikes on the outside edge.  Is Robbie not getting the call, or are the pitchers pouring a particular pitch into that spot?  We'll try to figure that out next.

Called Strikes

Fx_medium

via baseball.bornbybits.com

At first, it seems like Robbie takes a large percentage of fastballs (67%), but that figures to be inflated by facing relievers with only two pitches versus starters with 3 or 4.

Tipping my hand a little about tomorrow's Part 2, 50 of those 92 called strikes come on the first pitch.

Swinging Strikes

Next, I looked at the chart for Robbie's swinging strikes, I won't copy the entire graph over, but you can check it out for yourself.  Of 35 swinging strikes, 12 came on sliders.  After I fought off the Soriano 2003 flashbacks, I took a look at Robbie's performance on sliders.

Fx_medium

via baseball.bornbybits.com

I see a lot of swinging strikes way out of the strike zone low, and I see a fair number of foul tips.  It's worth noting that Cano has only swung and missed at 35 pitches this season- 12 of those have been sliders, 10 have been fastballs.  Is it fair to say he's getting fooled by the rotation?  Maybe, maybe not: let's take a look at his foul tips.

One last chart.

Foul tips

Fx_medium

via baseball.bornbybits.com

That looks like a pretty fair distribution of foul tips given the total pitch selection we saw earlier, so I don't think it's location that fouling up Cano's season (wakawaka!).

So let's look at the pitch selection chart way back at the top of the entry- I'm going to condense it here to show just the pitches and what percentages of those Cano fouls off:

pitch foul total percent
Fastball 76 359 21.2
Sinker 13 49 26.5
Curve 9 49 18.4
Slider 31 107 29.0
Change 12 86 14.0
Cutter 4 8 50
Splitter 9 30 30.0

It seems clear in this chart that Cano is getting his worst hacks at sliders.  He's seen nearly as many changeups as sliders, but he's done a better job of squaring those up the sliders.  On the other hand, he's made 28 outs on the changeups versus 15 on the sliders, and he has four more hits on sliders.

I wish there was a way to see his performance only in ABs when he saw both sliders and fastballs or changeups and fastballs.

What did we learn?

Not as much as I might have hoped.  The book seems to be away or in off the plate.  It seems like he might be having extra trouble with the low 80 mph pitches (slider and change).

Tomorrow I'll take a look at Robbie count by count and we'll see if there's something more to be gleaned there.