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A peek at Astros' hitting zones --- Baseball Analysts writer Jeremy Greenhouse comes up with an interesting analysis: who are the best and worst hitters by hitting zones.  Greenhouse used pitch f/x to break down each hitter into nine zones.  He then calculated run value for each swing by a hitter in each of those zones in 2009.  His article shows the top five and bottom five hitters for each zone; I'm not going to summarize those results, since you can read the article yourself.  The sample sizes diced up in this fashion may be a matter of concern, but we take what we can get.

The most notable Astros hitter on those lists is Hunter Pence.  Hunter is the third best hitter for the down/in pitch (+2.4 runs).  Hunter was also the third worst hitter swinging at the up/in pitch (-7.1 runs).   The article links a googledocs spreadsheet for all batters by zone, and we'll peruse that.

Down/In pitch

This appears to be a difficult pitch to accumulate run values, but the Astros had several hitters who caused damage on this pitch.  In addition to Hunter Pence, above, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada weren't far behind, with +2.1 and +1.9 runs, respectively.  Kaz Matsui was among the worst hitters when he swung at this pitch (-5.4 runs).

Down/Middle pitch

This seems like a typical sinkerball pitch, or perhaps a diving slider.  In any event, this pitch caused the Astros problems.  No Astros showed up at the top of the list, but several of the Astros' sluggers were among the worst.   A lot of good HR hitters are among the worst at this pitch, and Lance Berkman (-10.3) was right there with sluggers like David Ortiz and Adam Dunn (-11 and -11.1).  Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence also had trouble when they swung at this pitch.

Down/Out pitch

This is a tough pitch to do much with.   Leo Mazzone, the former Braves' hitting coach, demanded that all his pitchers learn how to hit this corner with precision.  Pedro Feliz is the worst of the Astros hitters when he swings at this pitch (-11.8 runs).   This pitch location seems to be krypotonite for Hunter Pence, if you watch him flail at the low outside breaking pitch; and his run value is predictably bad here (-8.3).

Middle/In pitch

Hunter Pence (+3) and Michael Bourn (+2.9) were the best Astros' hitters swinging at this pitch location. Cory Sullivan (+1.9) had some success with this pitch location.  Miguel Tejada (+1.4) also liked swinging at these pitches.

Middle/Middle pitch

This is the ol' groove one down broadway pitch.  Some fine hitters (e.g., Braun, Fielder, Texeira, Pujols) create major havoc when they get this pitch.  Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee were the Astros' best at dealing with the "hit me" pitch with +6.7 runs and +5.9 runs, respectively.  Hunter Pence racked up some runs (+4) on this pitch too.  Geoff Blum didn't fare too well when the ball was served up on a platter for him (-5.9 runs).

Middle/Out pitch

No particularly good Astros' performers on this pitch.  But Pedro Feliz is the 6th worst hitter on this pitch (-10.1).  Given his similarly bad numbers on low and away pitches, maybe Feliz should quit swinging at outside pitches.

Up/In pitch

No particularly noteworthy Astros' performers on this pitch.  But Hunter Pence (-7.1) and Miguel Tejada (-4.7) didn't succeed when they swung at this pitch.  Carlos Lee gets tied up with this pitch (-3.7).


Middle/Up pitch

The high hard one?  Lance Berkman excelled on this pitch location (+6.7) and was 6th best in the league on this pitch--just above Albert Pujols.  Miguel Tejada, who sometimes swings from the heels at high pitches, should do less of that; he was -3.7 runs.

Up/Out pitch

This is the location where Pujols leads the league (my mind wanders to a certain up/out pitch by Brad Lidge.)   Miguel Tejada was the best Astros' hitter at handling this pitch (+0.6).   Carlos Lee held his own too (+0.2). 

OK, that's all I've got today.  Have a nice weekend.