When it comes to looking at hitters, there are two ways to come up with a scouting report. One way is to do the scouting yourself. The other is to let the pitchers do it for you.
Every hitter has his own unique skillset, so every hitter gets pitched a little bit differently. As much as pitchers say they prefer to use their strengths over trying to attack the hitters’ weaknesses, what we end up observing is a compromise, an approach that blends knowledge of the pitchers’ strengths with knowledge of the hitters’ strengths.
While a good number of hitters are fairly similar, certain players are attacked in a variety of ways.
FanGraphs has ready access to data about the types of pitches that different hitters see. Owing to their respective strengths and weaknesses, San Francisco’s Marco Scutaro gets a lot more fastballs thrown his direction than Pedro Alvarez.
FanGraphs also has ready access to data about whether hitters see more or fewer pitches in the strike zone. Again, Scutaro sees a lot of strikes, because generally speaking the worst he can do is hit a single. Guys like Josh Hamilton (Angels) and Jose Abreu (White Sox), meanwhile, are pitched around, because they can hit the ball hard and they’re willing to expand their zones.
Consider the second set of data, above. The stats display who gets pitched in the zone, and who gets pitched out of the zone.
But what if we went about that a little differently, with a little more granularity? Let’s look at the guys who get pitched inside the most and the least often? What does that information tell us?
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