Some pitching coaches encourage pitchers to throw fastballs in 2-2 counts, on the belief that you don’t want to throw anything 2-2 that you would not throw in a full count. While most pitchers are fine throwing outside of the zone 0-2 and 1-2, when it’s 2-2, they feel obliged to be at least very close to the zone.
Personally, I don’t really see any reason to treat it differently than a 3-2 count. Unless you’re not confident in your ability to throw a strike, you shouldn’t let fear rule your pitch selection 2-2.
I know you qualified the sample size issue, but lets put some perspective on these #’s
If he’s had 27 2-2 counts this year, the difference between a 58% and a 48% fastball rate is all of 3 fastballs (actually it’s slightly less than 3)… so we are to believe if he threw 3 fewer fastballs this year on this count, it would impact his K rate and effectiveness significantly?
You talk about this as if it is some massive shift in pitch selection(“Essentially, on 2-2 counts this year, he has replaced the slider – a-swing-and-miss pitch – with the fastball”), when it amounts to a difference of <3 fastballs to date. 3 fastballs could be variation on the handedness of the hitter or the type of hitter or maybe he's gone to a few more 2-2 counts on opposing pitchers or maybe the game situation might dictate pitch selection.
In 2008 he threw 52% fastballs on 2-2 counts, fairly close to his 48% in 2009 (so maybe the K rate jump in '09, and subsequent drop in '10, is not 2-2 pitch selection?)
Also, if you look at the pitch value #'s his slider has been markedly less effective this year (wSL/c has gone from +1.11 to -3.08)
He suffered an oblique strain that comprimised his spring training. Abdominal muscle strains are notoriously one of the hardest strains to recovery full from and are often a prelude to a Sportsman Hernia. Wouldn’t suprise for the bastion of athletism we call Cupcakes to end up on the DL with this diagnosis. Actually it is a common reoccurring injury for all types of athletes. It could be lingering effects from the injury like adaptive shortening of surrounding musculature to protect the damage tissue and assist it in performing movements. Another scernio is that there might have been pre-existing conditions that caused the injury that have gone unidentified and not corrected which is often the case with alot of baseball players. Also he may not have been properly stretched out and could not complete his spring training general conditioning. That said he struggled early last year as well before righting the ship for what ever that is worth. However that he is returning to his 2008 self would be a suprise. His first few starts he was kept in the the game longer than he should have been esp. in light of this type of injury. Manuel has always struggled with identifying the right time to pull his pitchers and Rich Dubee is dreadful counsel in this regard. So, some of his early starts the wheels came of the wagon in the inning where he should have been pulled. How that effects this analysis if at all, I don’t know.
Comment by pounded clown — June 16, 2010 @ 3:20 am
”However that he is returning to his 2008 self would be a suprise” should say
”However that he may be returning to his 2008 self wouldn’t be a suprise”
Comment by pounded clown — June 16, 2010 @ 3:23 am
Posting a triple slash line for a 27 AB sample is essentially useless as well, especially considering his .500 BABIP in that situation.
I guess every regular reader of Fangraphs understands sample size and doesn’t need to see that caveat in every article they read, unless they just like annoyances (reading or being), if you know what I mean
If you look at Blanton’s PitchFX chart, you’ll notice that in 2009, he was getting more vertical movement on his slider, curve and change than in preceding years or this year. I suspect that has a lot to do with Blanton’s K/9 outlier in 2009, and why he’s throwing fewer breaking pitches in 2-2 counts this year.