The Pedro Cerrano All-Stars

Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.

– Pedro Cerrano in Major League

Every baseball fan is familiar with the Pedro Cerrano archetype: the hard-hitting batter who blasts fastballs into the next county but whose knees turn to jelly when the pitcher snaps off a breaking ball. I caught part of Major League while flipping through the channels the other day and I began to wonder, who in the majors today most resembles the Cleveland Indians’ Jobu-worshipping, cigar-smoking slugger?

To answer that question, I turned to Fangraphs’ Pitch Type Values section. I found the batters (minimum 150 plate appearances) who have been at least one run above average per 100 fastballs seen while rating at least a half-run below average against both sliders and curveballs. Here are the 2011 Pedro Cerrano All-Stars:

The Chicago Cubs dominate this list, with half of the team’s Opening Day lineup making the squad. Soriano has been in a class all his own. He’s killing fastballs but whiffing so often against curveballs (25.6 percent, 11.6 percent MLB average) and sliders (20.9 percent, 13.6 percent MLB average) that he could solve the world’s energy crisis with wind power. On a related note, pitchers are throwing Soriano fastballs just under 48 percent of the time this season (one of the 10 lowest rates in the majors) and the Cubs have seen the second-lowest percentage of fastballs among MLB teams.

The Brewers and Giants also have two representatives on the Cerrano All-Star Team. Fittingly, Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore has the worst run value against curveballs among MLB hitters with 150+ plate appearances.

This is a fun list, but it’s obviously a volatile one given the small samples involved. Are there any hitters who have shown Cerrano-like skills over a longer period of time? Here’s the list of players dating back to 2002 who meet our earlier Cerrano All-Star criteria (1+ runs above average per 100 fastballs, -0.5+ runs below average versus breaking balls) while logging at least 1,000 plate appearances. These players were liabilities against breaking stuff, but did enough damage against the “straightball” to stay in the lineup:

So there you have it: Alfonso Soriano, captain of the Pedro Cerrano All-Stars. No word on whether any of these guys offered Jobu some Macanudos or Bacardi.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


74 Responses to “The Pedro Cerrano All-Stars”

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  1. Person says:

    “He’s killing fastballs but whiffing so often against curveballs … that he could solve the world’s energy crisis with wind power.”

    I laughed.

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  2. Andrew says:

    Very fun post! Good work. Love that movie

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  3. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Hats for bats.

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  4. Mike D says:

    “in Major League”

    Given the audience you’re speaking to isn’t mentioning the movie a little redundant?

    Kinda like citing “Jeff Lebowski in The Big Lebowksi”

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  5. botatot says:

    Funnily enough, Soriano just hit a curveball to the warning track.

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  6. Shattenjager says:

    Should Soriano be the captain or should Burnitz?

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  7. Big Jgke says:

    Jose Cruz Jr was the definition of this kind of player. Not sure if the stats go back far enough, but there was a guy who looked like a god against fastballs and just never figured out how to hit the breaking ball.

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  8. Andrew says:

    Best Baseball Movie Ever.

    Fun Post. Loved the throwback Ben Grieve reference. I watched him play A ball. Good times.

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    • Dan says:

      Cerrano: “Ah, Je-sus, I like him very much, but he no help me hit curveball…”

      Harris: “Are you trying to say that Jesus Christ cant hit a curveball?!?”

      Absolutely brilliant…

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    • robbbbbb says:

      Nope. Bull Durham for comedy, The Natural for drama, and Field of Dreams for the numinous. (Of the three, Field of Dreams is my favorite.)

      The Natural might get edged by Eight Men Out, which is a terrific flick. Go rent it sometime.

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      • JoeHova says:

        Field of Dreams is overrated and borderline unwatchable. I can’t believe anybody enjoys that trash. Bull Durham is funny but has a different feel than Major League. The Natural is not anything special and Eight Men Out is just tedious. I don’t really consider any baseball movie to be a classic.

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      • “Field of Dreams is overrated and borderline unwatchable. I can’t believe anybody enjoys that trash.”

        /SPPPPPPPPPPIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT TAKE

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      • joser says:

        Eight Men Out captures the era nicely, but beware: the history you might think you’re learning from it is no more accurate than the physics you might learn from Star Wars.

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      • joser says:

        Also, the book on which “Field of Dreams” is based (“Shoeless Joe”) is much better. As is often the case, a lot got removed / dumbed down for the movie. Though maybe if I’d seen the movie before reading the book my opinion on this wouldn’t be as strong.

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      • The Natural says:

        You want to talk about a movie changing a book, read the end of The Natural and compare it to the end of the movie!

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    • Ryan S says:

      “Sugar” is the only truly superb baseball movie in my book. Though I’ll admit, I’ll watch “Bull Durham” from time to time.

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  9. Tyler says:

    this screams Mike Stanton

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    • Eric Farris says:

      Except Stanton has a weird profile. True, this year he is crushing fastballs and struggling against the curve, but is also really positive against the slider. Whereas last year, he was in the negative against FB and SL, but positive on the CB… seems like we need a bigger sample.

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      • DJG says:

        It’s also weird that since 1980 there have been 3 guys in the majors with the last name Staton and they are all named Mike.

        It’s like how every athlete with the first name Dee had to have the last name Brown. I’m glad to see Dee Gordon is bucking this tend.

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  10. TDillon says:

    “Someone needs to introduce him to the saving power of Jesus Christ……”

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  11. JD says:

    Was just talking about this with people last month. We tried to decide who was the most well-rounded Cerrano clone — quiet weirdness, good nature, etc. — and came up with maybe Wily Mo Pena? In terms of appearance, definitely Carlos Delgado.

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  12. reillocity says:

    As I suspected the “anti-Cerranos” are rarer.

    Here they are for 2011 (150+ PAs):

    Name wFB/C wSL/C wCB/C
    Jed Lowrie -0.69 2.32 4.03
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia -1.58 5.23 1.56
    Jonathan Herrera -1.25 3.23 1.38
    Alexei Ramirez -1.57 1.52 5.23

    … and for 2002-2011 (1000+ PAs):
    Name wFB/C wSL/C wCB/C
    Ryan Sweeney -0.54 0.78 1.02
    Rondell White -0.77 0.57 0.56
    Alex Cintron -0.84 1.53 0.64
    (Ryan Hanigan is about 200 PAs from qualifying)

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  13. mettle says:

    Didn’t anyone else notice the “Soriano” ~ “Cerrano” name similarity?
    Plus DR is just a long swim away from Cuba.
    Maybe Major League was actually a biopic and noone even noticed.

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    • Rally says:

      Yes. I thought that was cool, it makes him a perfect fit. I don’t think Soriano sacrifices chickens to Jobu, but being on the Cubs he might find it worthwhile to sacrifice a goat.

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  14. manbearpig says:

    Willy Mo Pena definitely comes to mind. What’s the Bill James quote about him? “Willy Mo never saw a breaking ball. They were all fastballs to him.” The Reds have another guy that would fit this category if he ever made a long run in the bigs in Juan Francisco.

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  15. cory snyder's mustache says:

    As someone who has only missed 1 indians game this season which qualifies me as a fanatic/loser, I understand Grady’s position on this list. What I don’t understand is the absence of Matt LaPorta.

    You could have LaPorta sitting 0-2 and if you were to have the catcher relay the message, “Hey LaPorta…here comes the curveball”, I can almost guarantee you, he’d go ahead and start making his way to the dugout before the pitcher went into his windup.

    Brutal.

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    • Jeff says:

      Yeah, not at all surprised about Grady. During Verlander’s 2 hitter the other day, Grady just looked like a lost little kid up there against JV’s hook en route to a Mexican hat made of heavy stuff.

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  16. Ace says:

    Cool stuff, thanks. Torres hasn’t looked as good this year as he did last.

    To this day, every goddamn time Aaron Rowand swings at that slide down and away and looks shocked that they thre him that pitch. My guess (and I’d love to see the numbers) that if you looked at the worst hitters against sliders (from RHP) overall, Rowand would be up there.

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    • b says:

      thank you! i say that everytime i see rowand hit. why throw him anything but sliders in the left handed batter’s box?

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  17. James says:

    Well done!

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  18. Antonio Bananas says:

    You should have an ongoing series where you find real life counterparts to the movies. I’d like to see Gary Busey’s character in Rookie of the Year, Bull Durham, the rest of the Major League Indians team, etc.

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    • Conrad says:

      Seconded.

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      • Evan says:

        Shortstop-ed.

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      • Rally says:

        Great idea. Around the time of the Major League Movie, I thought Alex Cole would be the Willie Mays Hayes. Then Kenny Lofton came around and filled the role so much better and for longer.

        Roger Dorn – older player, not much ability left, can’t get in front of a groundball, richer than god from past contracts, still can get on base by the HBP. Anyone else thinking about Derek Jeter?

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  19. Kampfer says:

    We will always observe more Cerranos than the anti-Cerranos in the Major because anti-Cerranos seldom make the big league. Pitchers in the minor throw a lot of FBs and even when they throw a bender, more often than not the batter sees a below avg one.

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  20. RC says:

    Pre-Mets Jason Bay was pretty much a clone of Cerrano.

    Now he can’t hit fastballs either.

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  21. Bharv says:

    I bet Mark Trumbo would be on this list if he had over 150 Abs. Love his raw power but he swings at the worst breaking balls…

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  22. Cidron says:

    and, the all time on that list, lemme guess, Rob Deer, Pete “Inky” Incaviglia, Greg Luszinski, …. anybody else?

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    • Drew says:

      What a hateful insult to Luszinski and Deer. At least those two guys could take a walk (Luszinski especially). Probably struck out a lot just from deep counts. Incaviglia was a flat-out bad hitter.

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    • Slugger27 says:

      dave kingman

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  23. Justin Bailey says:

    Something I’ve always wondered: did the guy who wrote the script for Major League really not know that voodoo comes from Haiti and not Cuba, or did he know and just not give shit?

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    • Slugger27 says:

      probably knew and didnt give a shit, cuz he knew none of us would either (except you)

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    • BigNachos says:

      The predominant religion in Cuba is Catholicism, but JC didn’t help him hit curveballs so he probably adopted voodoo while in the minors, obviously. Otherwise, he never would have made it to the… Major League…

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    • Joel says:

      Santeria is practiced by thousands of Afro-Cubans and is similar but not exactly the same as Haitain Vodou (though we spell it as voodoo). You are the uninformed one on this issue. Everything depicted by Cerrano in the movie (the sacrificing of chicken to get out of a slump) would be comedic and realistic of a MLB’er who practices that religion. Santeria in 1989 wasn’t something that most Americans was unaware of but voodoo was.

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  24. Antonio Bananas says:

    how about Andruw Jones in the few years he was allowed to play full time after his big 50 HR year?

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  25. Jon says:

    What about Nelson Cruz as a Pedro Cerrano candidate? I didn’t really check his fastball/breaking pitch splits, but am just considering his ability to hit the ball a long, long way or to miss it completely.

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    • Jon says:

      Just checked him out: He really does kill fastballs, and this year he’s been below average against sliders and curveballs.

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  26. shthar says:

    My response, as always to this tuff, is what’s the league average?

    We have no idea if these players numbers are HUGE or not much difference.

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  27. david says:

    who is this year’s league leader in “nose hair”?

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  28. CircleChange11 says:

    Soriano is just a freak. It’s amazing such a slight guy can swing such a big bat (literally).

    I wonder how many coaches have advised him to open his stance, or at least move his front foot back, so he can get a better look at sliders and breaking stuff. A 2-strike swing and miss at a low and away slider is the Soriano Signature.

    I also wonder how many times he has deposited a low and away fastball into the LF seats with that one-handed swing of his?

    He’s an amazing, but flawed, player. When I watch him play, I’m just amazed at how good I think he could have been … even if it’s just my perception, while acknowleding he’s been a good player for his career.

    It’s just amazing how fast his bat is and how strong his wrists are, but equally amazing at how bad his pitch selection/recognition is.

    I like the quote posted earlier “all pitches are fastballs to him” (paraphrased). It’s kinda impressive how far some guys make it with that philosophy.

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  29. CircleChange11 says:

    I prefer the chickbone cross to cigars and rum.

    “It takes the curse of the bat that brings me hits.”

    Mark Grace has his own version.

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  30. Rally says:

    For those who have seen Major League II, there is not currently a Jack Parkman character in the big leagues. But Bryce Harper won’t make us wait too long.

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  31. Rob in CT says:

    As a Yankees fan who watched in frustration as good pitchers (Pedro Martinez comes to mind) absoluted toyed with Sori (fastball inside, slider away, slider away, slider away, have a seat), I am unsurprised to see him leading the way. Can you imagine if he could lay off sliders down & away?

    I’m also unsurprised to see Nick Swisher on this list. I love Swish, but man he swings through/over a lot of curveballs. I’m slighly surprised not to see Posada on there.

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