Tag Archives: Baseball

Carter Capps Fails

carter capps

The Mariners demoted Carter Capps to AAA Tacoma after a horrific start to his 2013 season. While Capps’ strikeout rate was basically the same as it was in his excellent MLB debut in 2012 season, and his walk rate actually decreased, the hard throwing right-hander suddenly became home run prone. With an elite fastball, it wasn’t surprising to see him as a successful reliever in the minors, and then transition to the Majors like he did in 2012. It is surprising, however, that he has become so hittable. Comparing the dominant Capps of 2012 with the struggling one of 2013 may give us an insight at what went wrong with him this season, and hopefully identify how he can return to his old self.

Here are where the average locations of his major results were located in 2012 (entire graph is strike zone):

Carter Capps 2012

He threw extremely hard, over 95 MPH on his average pitch, regardless of classification. When he gave up contact, it was usually because he threw low in the zone and more glove side then average. When he got whiffs, it was on high fastballs. He was a dominant fastball pitcher with some of the best stuff in baseball. Fast forward to 2013, where the graph speaks for itself:

Carter Capps 2013

The problem seems pretty simple, he isn’t throwing as hard this year. He is throwing more breaking and off-speed pitches than last year (which you would expect he would have to do as the league sees him more, just to give hitters different looks so they couldn’t sit on his fastball), which brings down his average velocity some, but he also isn’t throwing his fastball as hard either. His top 25% of pitches this year is 96.9 MPH. In 2012 it was 99.4 MPH, meaning that he isn’t topping out at near the same velocity he was last season. In 2012, he threw 16 pitches 100 MPH or better. This year, he hasn’t thrown a single pitch 99 MPH or over according to Pitch F/X. The velocity drop is not only a somewhat helpful explanation for his struggles (if the pitches aren’t as fast, they are easier to hit), but velocity drop is often an indicator that something else is wrong as well.

His numbers against righties weren’t dominant, but he was doing pretty well when he had the platoon advantage this season. However, Capps has been really poor against lefties this season, and his release point has become further out so far this year. Let’s see how he is pitching lefties this year, first by pitch types (MLBAM tags)

Carter Capps Pitch Lefties

Everything is kept pretty arm side, except for the slider, which is still glove side on average. Here are what his average result locations look like against lefties, a graph that can be compared to the first two graphs:

Carter Capps Lefties

Most of his pitches are thrown a little more arm side against lefties than overall, that is, more away, usually a good approach. He is also throwing harder, meaning he is throwing more fastballs and less curves/sliders. The contact and whiff tendencies are basically the same. Aside from the release point, the other thing that is probably holding Capps back from being successful against lefties is a lack of a changeup that he has confidence to throw frequently.

Here are where Capps has thrown his changeup against lefties in 2013:

Carter Capps Changeups

There aren’t many, and of course, that is part of the problem. The other problem is that he threw some glove side, when it is supposed to be an arm side pitch. The only two he has gotten swings on are the ones that are located pretty well, on the far arm side part of the plate and relatively low. The higher one turned into a hit, while the lower one turned into a swinging strike. The rest were balls. It isn’t a pitch he is even getting called strikes with.

Even with the quick success of Nick Franklin and Brad Miller and the apparent emergence of Justin Smoak, the Seattle Mariners seemed to have had their share of hyped prospects failing quite spectacular. If Carter Capps doesn’t get his velocity back and doesn’t develop his changeup, the actual long term consequences for the franchise wouldn’t likely be that large. Capps is a reliever, and the Mariners have other relief prospects. However, it would be extremely frustrating. Capps has a great arm and it would be a shame if he didn’t live up to his potential, especially since it seems that Stephen Pryor has a knack for being on the DL.

The release point and velocity data suggests that he may not be healthy, though the Mariners apparently think he is, as he is pitching in AAA. We don’t know how he feels, so it is difficult and unwise to speculate about an injury. So perhaps the goal in AAA should be for him to raise his arm angle some, and work on his changeup, throwing it frequently (not caring about results, just working on the pitch).

A Look at Hisashi Iwakuma’s Home Run Problem


Hisashi Iwakuma has been a very good pitcher with the Mariners, with one fatal flaw, the long ball. Despite pitching most of his games in a pitcher friendly ball park, he has given up 17 homers in both years in the Majors so far. So looking at data from both 2012 and 2013, I wanted to look at his home runs and see why Iwakuma is so home run prone and whether or not he can fix it.

Here are the locations of the pitches he has given up homers on, labelled with the MLBAM tags:

Hisashi Iwakuma Homers

There are a lot of arm side fastballs here, both high and low, along with some hanging sliders and sinkers. There are a few splitters, but perhaps even more alarming than all the fastballs hit out of the park are the sliders hit out of the park, especially the well located sliders (perhaps you could argue that they aren’t glove side enough, but there are several low ones).

But how do his home run locations compare to his other average locations. Here Iwakuma’s average locations, based on result, labelled with average velocity

Hisashi Iwakuma Average Locations

Not surprisingly, even though he keeps the ball low on average, it is the highest pitches that are being hit for home runs. His average contact is a little higher than all his pitches on average, and also more arm side (even though the home runs are a little more glove side). The contact plays are a little harder in velocity than the average pitch, so the higher and harder pitches (read fastballs and sinkers) are the ones that are hit. His whiffs come on glove side pitches that are a little slower (there really isn’t much deviation in velocity) and lower (read the splitter).

More of the homers have come against right-handed batters (4.4 % to 2.6 % against lefties), probably because of the splitter neutralizing lefties (his OPS against both is about equal). We see this come out in the spray chart of batted balls Iwakuma has given up (via Katron.org, just 2013 at Safeco)

Hisashi Iwakuma Spray

Despite facing more left-handers than righthanders, Iwakuma is giving up a lot of balls to left field, suggesting righties pulling the ball. So I thought it might be helpful to see how he is pitching right-handed batters:

Hisashi Iwakuma RHB

So Iwakuma is able to keep the ball glove side, away from right-handed batters on average. He doesn’t throw a lot of curveballs, but he isn’t getting them down. When he gives up homers, not surprisingly, especially considering the spray chart, he is keeping the ball arm side and high in the zone. The sinker is getting somewhat down, and the fastball is getting glove side, but when he is getting in trouble, it is with these pitches against right-handers.

In a previous article this year, I noted that Hisashi Iwakuma was throwing pitches basically right down the middle without great velocity and getting away with it. Now, it doesn’t appear he is. He still has a solid strikeout rate, and he isn’t walking very many batters, but he has a home run problem that I think is directly related to his fastball velocity. Unless he is willing to throw more pitches out of the zone (he is 14th in zone % out of 93 qualified pitchers) and walk more batters, this is just going to be a problem for Iwakuma. Of course, this would have undesired side effects as well. Despite the good splitter, his stuff isn’t overpowering on the whole, and he is just going to be hittable at times (the low BABIP aside). If he keeps the walk rate low and keeps missing some bats, then you can live with the home runs, as there won’t be many runners on base when the home runs are hit.

Aaron Harang’s Success and Failure With the Fastball

Aaron Harang

Against the Angels last night, Harang had another bad start for the Mariners, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings (settling down and at least giving the Mariners a couple of innings when it looked like he might not get out of the 3rd). He wasn’t getting any help from his defense, and he didn’t walk anyone, but he was hittable again. His peripherals for the season are okay, and one would expect him to regress and get better as the season goes along (assuming he keeps getting chances, which as of right now, there isn’t many alternatives for the Mariners’ right now), but he has been hittable, with a pretty monstrous home run rate.

So far, Harang’s worse pitch has been the pitch he throws the most, the 2-seam moving fastball (labelled as FT by MLBAM Pitch F/X). According to the traditional automated pitching tags, this has been the pitch Harang has used the most (at least since 2010, when MLBAM separated the fastballs after calling 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs the same to begin the Pitch F/X era) and has been probably his worst pitch overall according to wRC + (the changeup was technically worse in 2012 and so far in 2013, but he throws it very rarely). Pitches labelled as a 4-seam fastball have been much more successful, about league average in 2012, and better than league average in 2013 (though I wonder if just using raw/non park adjusted park numbers would be better when looking at the Mariners this season, as the park dimensions have changed, and the numbers haven’t adjusted to that). By comparison, the moving fastball has been twice as bad (or half as good) as league average.

While I can’t vouch for each individual classification (Brooks Baseball, which uses manual classifications, has roughly the same breakdown, calling it a sinker instead of a moving fastball, or FT, which may be more accurate), they are different pitches. The 4-seam fastball is 89.77 MPH on average, and the moving fastball is 90.27 MPH on average, with more horizontal movement, but less vertical movement. Here is how he locates the two on average (with the average of all pitches thrown included for reference)

Aaron Harang Average Strike Zone

Harang is a little odd in that he is a glove side pitcher on average. He is right-handed, but he throws more pitches in the left-handed side of the batter’s box. Some of this could be because of a lack of a changeup that he throws often, but he clearly likes to work high and glove side with the 4-seamer. Remember, this is the pitch that is effective, so high, even with slightly below average velocity, is good for Harang. The moving fastball, his bad pitch, stays on the arm-side, again, the opposite as you would expect. It would seem, that since it has more horizontal movement, it would move to the glove side part of the plate, which is not the case. I think a lot of the problems have to do with usage, which i think helps explain the location difference. The 4-seam fastball is usually used against right-handers, when he has the platoon advantage, while the moving fastball is usually used against left-handers, which is when he does not have the platoon advantage. This leads to a bias in the numbers, as if two pitches are exactly the same, but one thrown with the platoon advantage, and one without, then one will look artificially better. This also helps explain the location difference. With the 4-seamer, Harang keeps the ball up, but also away. With the moving fastball, he keeps the ball lower (more in the middle of the plate) and away. Either way, he is going to throw the ball away.

The moving fastball takes place of Harang’s changeup, a pitch he doesn’t throw much, by being an arm-side pitch he throws without the platoon advantage. So perhaps it is only a bad pitch because he doesn’t like to throw his changeup (which, we can assume, is worse). Taking out BABIP and comparing the pitch against the 4-seam and only looking at right-handers may actually tell us if one pitch is better than the other.

Of the 89 moving fastballs that I count against right-handers, he has 8 swinging strikes and 23 contact plays. Of the 204 four seamers he has thrown to right-handers, he has given up 32 contact plays and gotten 16 swinging strikes. Against lefties with the 4-seam fastball (which he has thrown 71 times), Harang has 10 swinging strikes and 14 contact plays. This means the pitch is more effective against right-handers than the 2-seamer, but also more effective against left-handers. So it would seem to mean that Harang should just throw the 4-seamer more. The 4-seamer shouldn’t be harder on his arm than the 2-seamer (at least, I have no idea why it would be) and I don’t think he has a problem throwing either for strikes.

Of course, we aren’t including things like sequencing and counts, which could play a role in the difference, and pitching up as much as he does works, but if he did it more, maybe it wouldn’t work as well. It is possible that Harang’s stuff is not good enough for him to have really any one tendency, whether it is relying heavily on the 2-seamer against lefties or relying on the 4-seamer heavily against lefties. With that said, you would like to know if that is the case. It would be nice to see him at least try to use the 4-seamer more and use the moving fastball much less frequently. With that said, he is 35. To ask a pitcher to reinvent himself at 35, when he has been able to stay in the big leagues for so long, with some really successful seasons mixed in, might be a difficult task for the Mariners. Harang might instead ask them to fix the defense, especially after a game in which Triunfel, Franklin, Morse, and Saunders all made poor defensive plays (and Harang himself is not immune to the defensive blunder). But for now, Harang is operating with two fastballs, using the one that is worse the most.

Checking On The Mariners Defense

Raul Ibanez

In the off-season, it was clear that the Mariners had taken a route in which they emphasized power over defense. Their new acquisitions on the hitting side were all hitters with power (but often low OBPs) and little or poor defensive value. Whether these were just the players the Mariners targeted in the off-season, or whether or not it was a clear shift in focus by the front office is a little unclear, but it was a clear sacrifice that most could see from a mile away.

While defensive metrics have their problems, it is usually understood that 3 years of data is a good sample size of defensive statistics. If we assumed a player played 150 games in a year, that would mean 450 games over 3 years. If we wanted to look at a team, we would assume that 50 games would be a decent sample size (450 divided by 9). At the time of writing this post, this is where the Mariners are at this season. So let’s compare the 2012 data to the 2013 data. Let’s see if we can measure the actual sacrifice the Mariners made this off-season by using a variety of defensive metrics.

We must note that things like BABIP may also be driven by the new park factors that will come with the new Safeco. The new Safeco may turn more balls into homers, which would lower the BABIP, or more balls into hits off the wall, etc. The point is, all variables should be considered and these numbers don’t come in a vacuum.

[table id=38 /]

By every single metric and measure, the Mariners are a worse defensive team this year. They went from being in the top 5 of 11 of the metrics, to only top 5 in the crudest of all metrics, fielding percentage. The team was top 10 in 10 of the 11 metrics in 2012, and this year, they are top ten in just two, the other being double play runs (which isn’t that surprising, as it has still been mainly Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley up the middle so far, we will see how the Nick Franklin/Ackley swap changes this, most likely making them worse defensively). They went from a team that helped their pitchers defensively, to a team that is very clearly hurting their team defensively, going from an average rank of 6th to an average rank of 20th. The team is now, as was projected in the off-season, a bad defensive ball club.

But has the tradeoff been worth it? So far the Mariners have still been a below average team overall, giving up much more runs than they have scored. Overall offensively, according to wRC +, the Mariners have went from 27th in 2012, to 19th in 2013. They have clearly improved offensively, but they are still below average. Even when looking at power, the team is 18th in Isolated Slugging. They went from a good defensive team and bad hitting team to a bad defensive team and slightly below average hitting team. The trade-off, at least so far, isn’t working if you believe the data, and certainly is not helping the already struggling Brandon Maurer, Aaron Harang, and Joe Saunders.

Does The Mariners’ Minor League System Have a Contact Problem?


As I was watching Brewers’ minor leaguer Tyler Wagner and his 90 MPH fastball (he was a 4th round pick in 2012 to be fair) strike out 10 and shut out Clinton’s lineup in a 7 inning game, I started thinking about the Mariners’ minor league contact problems. It seems that the Mariners have had a lot of major strikeout players over the past couple years in the minors, whether it is Kalian Sams, Joe Dunigan, Guillermo Pimentel, Denny Almonte, and even at times, Mike Zunino. Of course, the importance of minor league strikeout rates for hitters can be overstated, and in my research minor league strikeouts only really matter in the context of strikeouts versus walks.

So I wondered if the Mariners’ minor league system has a contact problem, in the context of walk percentage and strikeout percentage. So here are the 2013 affiliates so far (as of Tuesday May the 7th, the games on the 8th aren’t included):

[table id=34 /]

Here is what they looked like in 2012 (just the stateside affiliates):

[table id=35 /]

Here are the league averages for those leagues (2013 for the full season leagues, 2012 for the short season leagues)

[table id=36 /]

Clearly AAA Tacoma is having a lot of problems making contact so far, but they are also walking a decent amount as well. AA Jackson is striking out a lot and they aren’t walking either. High Desert was a heavy contact team last year (and several of those players are now on Jackson, which explains their low walk rate this year), but this year, they have maintained their strikeout rate, and are walking more. I complained about Clinton in the opening, but they are doing a good job so far this season of limiting strikeouts and walking quite a bit.

It seems that you can complain that a few of the Mariners’ affiliates have been strikeout heavy, but a lot of them were walking as well. I don’t think the data suggests that it is a systematic problem, though there are certainly a few players in the Mariners system that have have epic strikeout problems.

On Ryan Versus Andino


The Mariners, determined to make themselves the laughingstock of baseball, made yet another decision that just doesn’t make a lot of sense based on the evidence we have or the tools we use to evaluate players. The team announced that they were benching Brendan Ryan and were going to use Robert Andino as the starting shortstop. Below are a comparison of the two players based on a number of metrics from a vast array of sources.

OBP (not park adjusted, but Andino has played in more hitter friendly parks than Ryan has):

Andino: .294

Ryan: .303

wRC +:

Ryan: 73

Andino: 66

OPS +:

Ryan: 73

Andino: 67


Andino: .088

Ryan: .081

Offensive Winning Percentage:

Andino: .307

Ryan: .358

Heat Maps (according to Baseball Prospectus/Brooks Baseball):


Andino Heat Map


Ryan Heat Map

Average Batted Ball Distance:

Andino: 253.915

Ryan: 247.33

What about defense?

Defensive Wins per Game (per DRS):

Andino: .0058

Ryan: .0189

Total Zone runs at shortstop:

Andino: -1

Ryan: 55

Baseball Info Solutions runs at shortstop:

Andino: 1

Ryan: 92

UZR at shortstop:

Ryan: 48.3

Andino: 2.5


Andino: -1.5

Ryan: 60.7

Range Factor at shortstop:

Ryan: 4.85

Andino: 4.42

Andino’s primary position in his career has been 2nd base, Ryan’s has been shortstop.

What about speed?

According to my times to first, Andino runs a 4.33 to first. For some reason, I didn’t have a time for Brendan Ryan, so I found him beating out an infield single. He ran a 4.23.

Speed Score:

Ryan: 5.8

Andino: 4.0

Stolen bases (and caught stealings):

Ryan: 65 (21)

Andino: 24 (12)

Baserunning runs (according to BP):

Ryan: 6.8

Andino: 5.6

Baserunning runs (according to Fangraphs):

Ryan: 17.3

Andino: 3.6

What about projections?


Andino: 0 WAR

Ryan: .2 WAR


Andino: -.3 WAR

Ryan: .4 WAR


Ryan: .5

Andino: .2

There is no real reason, in any of the three facets of the game, to believe that Andino should play over Ryan. This isn’t about scouts versus stats, scouts love Brendan Ryan’s ability to play shortstop, or anything of this matter. This is simply making the wrong choice based on the evidence we have now.

If the Mariners are just frustrated with the way Brendan Ryan has hit as a Mariner, I get it. He isn’t a good hitter, everyone knows this. However, just like we saw last year, the Mariners have taken out their frustration of Ryan’s hitting on him, and replaced him with worse players. When the Mariners played Munenori Kawasaki a bunch of games in a row last season, it didn’t help the team. It hurt the team. They were clearly letting a inferior player take the field over a better player. The Mariners said as much in the off-season when they ditched Kawasaki and had no interest in letting him return, and traded for Andino.

Ideally, maybe Ryan isn’t a starter. Maybe his hitting is so bad that he doesn’t deserve to play, even with his fantastic glove and solid running abilities. If the team decides that Ryan isn’t an every day player ideally, I might argue some, but I would understand it. But if you are going to make the argument that Ryan is too one dimensional of a player to play every day, then stop playing Raul Ibanez everyday. After a week filled with defensive miscues and some horrible at-bats, Raul Ibanez is still in the lineup tonight.  The first argument against this comparison of Ryan and Ibanez (a comparison I made last year whenever we had the similar silliness between Kawasaki and Ryan) would be that the Mariners have no better options in the outfield. That may or may not be true, I’ll leave that alone for now, but the information above shows that Andino is a horrible choice for every day shortstop.

Of course, this may be an over reaction. I don’t pretend to be a guy who predicts the future very well, but I expect this to play out like the Kawasaki situation last year. The Mariners play an inferior player for a week, decide he is inferior, then let Ryan take over shortstop again. So this may not matter that much (if any decision they make about playing time this year matters, as they don’t have the roster to make any kind of divisional or playoff run). The more interesting fact is that Ryan’s contract goes up at the end of the year. He will be a free agent. Any discussion about re-signing Ryan may be purely academic, because if I were him (I know nothing about Ryan’s personal beliefs or personality, so I am not going to play armchair psychologist), I wouldn’t want to re-sign with a bad team that keeps benching me for worse players. From the Mariner perspective, it would make sense to bring back Ryan at least as an insurance policy/utility man. While Nick Franklin and Brad Miller are interesting prospects (that I watch nearly everyday and have problems pegging down which one is better or whether they will stick in the Majors as starters. Statistics like them, but sometimes they are rough to watch, especially defensively), the Mariners have to know better than anyone that even top prospects are no sure thing. Hedging their bets a little would not be a bad thing, especially since we have seen the lack of depth (especially in the outfield) have caused the Mariners to play some really poor players every day already here in April.

Seattle University Baseball Scouting Reports Part 2

seattle u

I was able to see Seattle University’s baseball team for the second time this year, this time, against Dallas Baptist in WAC conference play.

The starting pitcher was Skyler Genger, a freshman right-hander. He doesn’t have a real fluid delivery, with some real jerk in it.

He gets on top of the ball well, and knows he has to keep it low. His fastball doesn’t look hard and has a little bit of two seam run. He gave up a homer to leadoff hitter Boomer Collins when Genger had the platoon advantage. Collins would clobber another ball the wall later in the game. Overall, he was hit hard and didn’t miss bats, and these problems just continued as the game went along. His off-speed doesn’t have a ton of movement, and he was mainly just relying on speed differential. He could occasionally throw the fastball high just to keep hitters off balance, but he probably should have done it more. It seems like he has a lot of effort in his delivery, with a lot of grunting, especially on his curveball.

Landon Cray showed a little bit with the bat in this game, hitting a fly-ball to the right field wall (4.44 second fly-out) on an off-speed pitch with the platoon advantage. He also hit a 5.97 second infield fly-ball. He doesn’t have a real strong arm in right-field, but I pulled a 4.09 second time to first from him, which is blazing speed from the right side (so much that I think it might be wrong).

Nate Roberts once again showed nice range and defensive skills at shortstop, despite having below average athleticism and well below average speed. He also hit a surprising 6.22 infield fly-ball.

Ryan Somers yanked a ball hard pull side foul with the platoon advantage. He also hit a 5.69 infield fly-ball, and creamed another ball to the wall the other way. There were some things to like about his bat in the game. Cash Mcquire, who I liked last time, had a 4.56 fly-ball to right, which is the other way for him. Other than that, he didn’t do really anything notable.

Brian Olson played catcher and looked like a nice receiver behind the plate. His pop times in warm ups, at least the ones I got, were: 1.91, 1.88, 1.94, 1.94. Those are major league times. He showed a quick bat as a hitter, pulling one hard foul without the platoon advantage and also hitting a 4.59 second fly-ball to center.

Eric Yardley is a sidearming righty that was initially brought in to face another righty. He jammed him on the first pitch and got out of the inning. Unfortunately, he was left in to pitch the next inning and had to face some lefties. He gave up a homer and then absolutely came unraveled, giving up 5 runs before he was finally pulled.

Kyle Doyle is a lefty with an arm angle that doesn’t come out from his body until very late, really until he finishes his stride. It may be difficult to repeat that, but it probably makes him a little harder for righties to see. He gets sweeping action on his breaking ball and has the ability to go glove side on his fastball. This made him really tough on lefties.

Zach Aaker hit a 3.88 fly-ball to left, while Chase Fields hit a 5.06 infield fly-ball on a bad swing. Sean Narby has a clear upper cut swing that was a little slow at times. He hit a 5.46 fly-ball to right, and hit some other balls well. Nick Latta hit at the bottom of the lineup, but he pulled a homer without the platoon advantage (versus former Astros’ draft pick Joseph Shaw). He also showed good plate discipline.

Michael Morse and Pitch F/X Data


Michael Morse’s return to Seattle has gone a little weird so far, at least offensively. He has already hit 5 home runs, but it has come with a lot of contact and plate discipline problems. In fact, one could say that the Mariners have gotten about what you would expect from Morse offensively so far. Without revisiting narratives about the trade or looking too much at what Morse was with the Nationals or talking about other aspects of his game, it may be helpful to look at his at-bats so far. We have been looking at Mariner pitchers a lot using Pitch F/X data, and it may be helpful to look at Morse the hitter using the data.

Obviously we are talking about small sample sizes, as the Mariners have played a grand total of 8 games. So statistics are completely useless because they simply don’t predict anything in this small of a sample. However, Pitch F/X can give us an idea of what pitches he has having success against and which ones he is struggling with, and how he is being pitched in general. While it is not a large or great sample size,  we have 160 pitches, more than we had when we looked at Julio Morban in spring training.

The average pitch Morse has seen is 87.7 MPH. For comparison, the average starting pitcher in the Pitch F/X era has had an average of 84.72 MPH. So it seems, though we have to control for the fact that pitchers in general are throwing harder than they did in 2007 (that is, the average pitcher in 2007 didn’t throw as the average pitcher throws in 2013, as the general velocity trend has gone upward) and the fact that quirky pitchers like Livan Hernandez, Moyer, Kim, and Wakefield that lowered the overall pitch velocity are all out of baseball, that Morse is seeing a little bit better velocity than average. The average pitch Morse has hit for a homer is 88.01 MPH, meaning he is probably hitting the hard stuff a little better than other pitchers.

Out of Morse’s whiffs (swings and misses), 9 were sliders, 3 were changeups, and 2 were curveballs, with the rest being some kind of fastball. The fastball whiffs averaged 92.73 MPH, while his home run fastballs, 4 of them, averaged 90.74 MPH. That he hit softer fastballs better than harder fastballs is no surprise and doesn’t tell us much of anything as we would expect all hitters to act this way. The slider Morse hit for a homer was 77 MPH. The ones he swung and missed at were all thrown harder and averaged 85 MPH.

Here is a rough map on how Morse has been pitched against by righties (with a strike zone for comparison), when pitchers have the platoon advantage:

Righties Against Morse

As we can see, it is relatively balanced, but he has been pitched inside, especially off the plate, more than outside. Here is how Morse has been pitched when he has the platoon advantage, that is, against lefties:

Lefties Against Morse

As you can see, lefties aren’t as interested in coming inside (especially up and in) on Morse, and have missed rather dramatically up high and also away.

Here are the pitches Morse has hit homers off of (remember that the square is the strike zone, so this graph is shifted):

Morse's Dingers

I thought the way inside pitch hit for a homer must have been a mistake on my part, but it wasn‘t (though I think because of the way the chart is positioned, it makes it look more dramatic). It is also important to note that the way inside home run was on the soft slider, allowing him to get around on the ball. So other than one that was near the center of the plate, all of Morse’s homers have come on the inside. Up and in seems to be happy zone so far this year, which isn’t a surprise for a big slugger like Morse.

Here are the pitches Morse has swung and missed at:

Morse's Whiffs

I guess there is a reason that Morse got those pitches up and in that he hit for homers, he is missing quite a bit of them as well. In fact, he seems to be swinging at some pitches that are way inside. Even though he had the homer on the soft slider, swinging at pitches that far in takes some uncanny bat speed and control to have real success, especially on right-handed fastballs.

Looking at opposing release points may be helpful in telling us what kind of pitchers he is having success/struggling against:

Release points on Homers Release Points on Whiffs

It should be noted that the far out right-handed pitcher was the one who threw the soft slider, as he struggled with other pitches thrown from that angle (as most right-handers would). I was surprised by how much he struggled against low and out lefties, as these are usually guys that right-handers hit pretty easily, making them LOOGYs. He also hasn’t seemed to have done anything against more normal lefties. While he has hit 2 homers off “regular righties”, that is where the bulk of his whiffs have come. Weirdly, the fastballs Morse has hit for homers had better spin on them then the fastballs he swung and missed at. I am not sure if that means anything or not honestly, it just seems a little strange.

Overall, he has seen 16 pitches that were classified as changeups by the MLB AM tags. He has put two in play, but none for hits. He has put 3 of the 12 curveballs he has seen in play, none of them for hits. In fact, of his 9 balls that were not turned into hits, they are all on some variation of fastballs except for 3 on sliders. While one of those sliders was clocked at nearly 89 MPH, the other two were sub 80 MPH sliders (not good sliders). It would seem then, that Morse has been a very one dimensional slugger with the Mariners’ so far. He has hit some inside fastballs very well, but has also missed a lot of them and has had a ton of problems with breaking and off-speed pitches, with a very high whiff percentage.  It is sort of amazing that Morse has been in a two strike count 67 times already. While two of his homers have come in these counts, you do not want to be in a 2 strike count that much. If you look at the 12 times that Morse has been behind 0-2, he has gotten a lot more fastballs than I thought he would. These fastballs are thrown high, most likely because Morse is willing to go up there and chase them (and miss).

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