Friday, March 13, 2015

Scouting Report Summary



By request of a loyal reader, we are going to accumulate all the summaries at the end of the Scouting Reports series in once place, for easy access during games. Something to keep in mind when reading these reports: scouting reports change. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and pitchers and hitters are always adjusting. It’s the ultimate game theory situation. The batter knows that the pitcher knows his weaknesses. The pitcher knows that the batter knows that the pitcher knows his weaknesses, so the pitcher doesn’t attack his weaknesses. The batter knows that the pitcher knows that the batter knows… to never get involved in a land war in Asia.

The book on Span is pretty typical for a left handed hitter with little power. A heavy dose of fastballs, but a shift towards more fastballs with movement to keep him from making solid contact. The fastballs stick to the outer half of the zone, although you can expect some in tight under the hands to keep him from hanging out over the plate and looking away consistently. Finally, off speed pitches from lefties will be low and away while righties will mix it up a little more as their breaking pitches aren’t as effective against lefties.

Harper sees more off speed pitches than average and fewer fastballs. Fastballs will be mostly low and away, although lefties have the ability to mix it up a little more and challenge Harper inside. Lefties will keep their breaking pitches low and away to induce a swing and miss or weak contact. Righties, interestingly, will look to throw their breaking pitches low and/or low and inside and will work their change-ups away.

Werth is getting a lot of hard pitches: both fastballs and sinkers. Pitchers look to challenge Werth with the hard stuff and take advantage of his dwindling power. For the most part, they don’t want to come inside to Werth, though, and will keep the fastballs on the outside and out of the strike zone away. Off speed offerings were of the stereotypical approach against right handed hitters: breaking pitches low and away from right handers and low and in from left handers.

Ramos is willing to swing at pitches outside the zone, and has a tendency to connect on these pitches. If you can tempt Ramos into swinging at a slider out of the zone (maybe setting this up with a couple fastballs on the outside corner to get Ramos looking that way), he either strikes out on that swing or weakly puts the ball into play. This approach, in my opinion, is based on the knowledge that Ramos struggles to lay off pitches outside the strike zone. When pitchers then start pounding outside the zone away, Ramos keeps swinging at these pitches. When he connects, the only thing he can do with the pitch is put it on the ground, and put it on the ground he usually does.

The book on Zimmerman seems to be pretty basic: keep pitches in the zone. He is a somewhat passive hitter, so steal your strikes when you can, usually with the fastball. You have to keep the ball in the zone, though, because Zimmerman swings at pitches out of the zone at a below average rate. It will be interesting to see if this approach changes at all during this season, when you would hope you have a fully healthy Zimmerman for an extended period of time. Given Zimmerman’s recent injury history, we might be seeing a lot of noise in the recent pitching approaches that have more to do with his health issues than with the true approach to pitching to him.

Anthony Rendon:
Rendon proved his ability to handle major league pitchers in the first half of 2014 and, as a result, is seeing more breaking balls once falling behind in the count. Pitchers are more wary of going right at Rendon with pitches in the strike zone, so he will see more pitches out of the zone. Specifically, right handers will attack him outside with the fastball and low and away with their breaking pitches. Left handers will also keep their fastballs on the outside corner, although they show a clear focus on attacking Rendon up in the zone with their fastballs.

Yunel Escobar:
Pitchers throw their fastballs right at Escobar, partially because he does a good job at laying off of fastballs outside of the zone and partially because he is not much of a threat to take a fastball in the zone and deposit it in the outfield bleachers. When going to the breaking ball, pitchers will still keep the ball in the zone, not showing much fear in attacking Escobar straight away. Lefties are likely to throw the slider once they get ahead in the count while righties love to go to the slider in all counts against Escobar.

Ian Desmond:
Desmond sees fastballs at a rate on the low end of the spectrum as opposing pitchers are cognizant of his power potential. Both lefties and righties will focus on the lower corner away from Desmond, but show a willingness to explore different parts of the zone. While pitchers go to their off speed pitches nearly 50% of the time to try and take advantage of Desmond’s willingness to swing away and counteract that power, they still keep the ball near the zone or even in the zone. This is definitely something to keep an on eye with Desmond. For his approach at the plate to allow for him to be successful, he is going to have to be able to do damage on off speed pitches in the zone.


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