I’m a big fan of Dave Allen and his work with PitchF/X. Dave has put out some really cool — and informative — graphs by using PFX data. His post today on FanGraphs and Jason Heyward’s struggles against breaking pitches down in the zone got me thinking — how is Aaron Rowand looking so far this year? Stealing, er, borrowing Mr. Allen’s graph format I wanted to plot how Aaron Rowand is faring against non-fastballs so far in 2010.
Our graph looks like this:
Whiffs are encircled by black and contact (foul or in-play) are marked by X’s. The graph is from the catcher’s perspective. So, if you’re trying to visualize things, Rowand is standing on the left side of the strike zone. We learned that last year Rowand swung at and missed the slider 63 separate times in 2009. He was one of the worst hitters in the NL when it came to the slider. This year, Rowand has seen 27 total sliders and whiffed on 6 of them. That’s 22% of sliders seen he’s missed. Much like last year’s graph, Rowand (and I assume most RHB’s) has a tendency to miss the slider when it’s down and away. When the slider is in the middle of the plate — and possibly of the hanging variety — you can see Rowand made more contact.
Rowand has also whiffed on 4 curveballs this year — most of them down in the zone as well. Rowand has always swung slightly above average as a hitter — league average tends to be around 44-46%, Rowand has a career Swing% of 51.5% — and it will be interesting to see if he makes any adjustments as the full-time leadoff hitter. It’s early in the season, but from the looks of it, Rowand appears to be the same hitter he’s always been. Not shocking news, but something to keep an eye on and remember when the eventual story in the media gets written about how he’s re-worked his approach at the plate.