Last week Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis, the gentlemen behind Brooks Baseball, made an announcement that was at once important and promising. For Baseball Prospectus, they have developed hitter and pitcher profiles using Pitch F/X. The profiles are sortable, color-coded strike zones maps that can be sorted in a myriad of ways and normalized by handedness. For some, the player cards are a black hole of nerdy fun.
Brooks and Baseball Prospectus are also kind enough to make the color-coded strike zone charts free and embeddable. As you know, I love trying to make color-coded charts to help visualize concepts for Cardinals fans. As you can imagine, this turn-of-events is a bit like Christmas in July for me.
I thought we might venture into the new Pitch F/X hitter charts together with Cardinals slugger Allen Craig batting leadoff.
When healthy this 2012 season Craig has been a monster with the bat. Entering play on Sunday, the St. Louis slugger had a .398 wOBA, which would tie him for sixteenth in all of baseball if he were qualified for the batting title. By wRC+, which adjusts for park effect and is scaled to league average, Craig's 155 would tie him for twelfth in the big leagues.
The driving force behind his offensive value has been power. Isolated Power (ISO) is calculated by subtracting a player's slugging percentage (SLG) from his batting average (BA). By removing singles, ISO gives one a better idea of how much a player's SLG comes from extra-base hits (XBH). Craig's ISO in 2012 is a mammoth .286. Here is how that would rank in the majors amongst qualified batters through play on Saturday:
- Josh Hamilton, .320
- Ryan Braun, .307
- Adam Dunn, .307
- Mark Trumbo, .305
- David Ortiz, .300
- Josh Willingham, .299
- Jose Bautista, .292
- Allen Craig, .286
- Edwin Encarnacion, .283
- Andrew McCutchen, .274
Craig mashes fastballs even when normalized. The normalization chart also brings into stark relief how well he has been able to stay on and drive low breaking pitches this season. Craig's plate coverage and ability to hit low breaking balls with power make him a potent bat in the middle of the Cardinals' lineup. This is a mere snapshot of about 200 PAs, though, and it will be interesting to see if Craig can continue his powerful hitting as the season and his career progress.