I apologize to my faithful readers for not blogging but my baseball superstitions took over my reasoning and my objectivity was compromised. I started this blog with an open mind and a desire to show the good and bad in Pablo Sandoval‘s game regardless of what I may feel as a baseball fan. First I learned just how time consuming it can be to amass your own data by watching and re-watching every game, detailing every at bat and each chance in the field. After putting all the data together I found little time to keep up with logging the games here on the website. Every day I would pull the data together and log it and prepare to blog until a little voice in my head told me “Don’t mess with a streak!” and for some reason I listened.
Besides Pablo’s franchise record 20 game hitting streak coming to an end and after becoming only the 3rd San Francisco Giant to ever record two 20+ game hitting streaks in a career (tying him with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey) the day before, yesterday also happened to be the first day I did not watch the game live. Coincidence? I think so. As much as the illogical part of me tries to rationalize the streak ending on Saturday as something I somehow magically control and that I let Pablo down in his bid for immortality, is just not true.
What was the reason the Panda’s streak ended? Hint….is was something he did so well during the streak and no, the answer is not get a hit. The answer is Pablo was not as patient as he had been throughout his hitting streak. Going into yesterdays game Pablo was averaging 3.78 pitches per plate appearance which was a 10.2% increase over his career average of 3.43 Pit/PA coming into this season. Pablo is seeing more pitches due to not swinging at bad pitches outside of the strike zone as often with an 88% Swung at Strike Percentage (on par with his 2009 number). Overall he is swinging at less pitches on a whole by swinging at a career low 53% of the pitches he had seen. He has also been patient in waiting for the right pitches within the strike zone to drive. We can see evidence of this in Pablo’s Ground Out to Air Out Ratio at a career low of 0.70 and only 1 of his 27 Fly Ball Outs coming into the game were hit in the infield for a 4% IF/FB which is well below his career average of 12% IF/FB. To top it all off, 25% of all the balls Pablo has put into play have been line drives compared to averaging 19% LD% in 2009, 19% LD% in 2010 and a 18% LD% in 2011.
Here is what Pablo did while bwing patient at the plate over his 20 game hit streak to start the season:
Besides going 0-4 on Saturday, Pablo saw only 6 pitches in his 4 plate appearances against Starter RHP Anthony Bass. Of the 4 outs, 2 were in the air and two were on the ground with the two in the air being to opposite field in left and two ground outs were pulled to the right side of the infield which seems to be the growing trend on how to position defensively against Pablo when he is hitting as a lefty. On the bright side 3 of the 4 pitches that Pablo put into play were in the strike zone. Here are two displays to show where the balls were hit and where the pitches were located that he put into play thanks to Pitchf/x data from Sportvision that can be accessed via TexasLeaguers.com (also see BrooksBaseball.net) with their Pitchf/x tool found here.
Sunday brings another day and a chance to begin new streaks so long as Pablo Sandoval shows patience at the plate and finds the right pitch to drive.
by Raul Rekow Jr.