Some interesting analysis from Jonathan Scippa on BaseballAnalytics.org:
Tonight, Boston's Carl Crawford returns to where he started his career. Crawford played nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before signing with the Red Sox this offseason.
The start to his Red Sox career has been anything but easy. Through his first 40 games, he had hit .205/.243/.280 with just one home run and 31 strike outs. However, he's managed to slowly climb out of that hole and has raised his line to .246/.279/.393. At this point in the 2010 season, Crawford was sporting a .296/.346/.465 line.
Here's a look at his SLG% heat maps through June 13 for both this season and last:
Data through June 13 (Click to enlarge image)
Crawford has simply not been as dangerous on pitches in the strike zone this season. Oddly enough, he's hit the same number of HRs (6) and triples (4) that he did at this point last season. However, he's striking out at a slightly greater rate (14.2% to 16.9% K-Rate), and walking much less (7.1% to 3.4% BB%). As a result, his wOBA is down over 50 points from where it was at this point last season.
Crawford has never hit lefties well, but this season he's struggled greatly against them. He's hitting .159/.216/.280 vs. LHP for a .222 wOBA, compared to a .324 wOBA vs. RHP this season. In his career, he's put up a .264/.310/.376 line against lefties.
Tonight, Crawford and the Red Sox face James Shields (TB) who is off to a 5-4 start with a 2.85 ERA with the Rays. Shields has held lefties to a .232/.279/.379 line this season. Meanwhile, Crawford has been bashing RHP over the last month, with a .419 wOBA including 3 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 home runs in that span.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox is off to a career year, increasing both his ability to get on base and his power over his career averages. Some of his statistics indicate he is stronger. The possibility exists that his year of rehabilitating his broken ribs turned him into a better hitter. The first thing to notice is that he's smacking more balls for line drives:
Jacoby Ellsbury, line drive rate, 2008-2010.Jacoby Ellsbury, line drive rate, 2011.He's very good at lining the low outside pitch, but he's also doing better at smacking offerings in the strike zone as well.
The following table shows how his balls in play distribution changed this season.
Percent in play.
In Play Type
With Ellsbury's wOBA over .700 when he hits a line drive, increasing his LD% helps his averages a great deal. Line drives are not the only place he's getting better, however:
A higher proportion of his fly balls are falling for hits, not just home runs, despite him not hitting the ball as far on average. One explanation may be that many of his flies are high line drives. I thought that it might be Jacoby hitting the Green Monster more often, but his fly balls are producing a higher wOBA on the road. He's hitting the ball solid and at a good angle, so he gets pure line drives that fall for hits, or long, low flies that hit the gaps.
Here is a copy of our most recent interview with Rob Neyer. This is part of the Three Up Three Down interview series we have on BaseballAnalytics.org.
1. What's your favorite statistic / metric to use when evaluating the effectiveness of a pitcher?
You know, I don't really have one anymore. Lately I've found myself just sort of eyeballing the strikeouts and the walks and the home runs. But sure, I'll check out FIPand BABiP when I feel like making the extra effort.
2. If you were the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (BTW: we would have to call you “Bud”), what would you be known for?
Hmmm ... I would probably be know for lasting about three months in the job, because both the owners and the players would probably hate my guts from the get-go. I think baseball should be run for the fans, while the owners think it should be run for the owners, the players for the players. I say a pox on both their houses.
3. It’s time to play “Which and Why”. Which would you rather win and why?
• The Oscar for Best Actor
• MVP of the World Series
• Dancing with the Stars Champion
This is an easy one ... MVP of the World Series, because it means I got to play baseball, and be good at it. The only thing that would compare, for me, would be writing a great novel. Which is nearly as unlikely as me playing in the World Series.