Pitch Brandon Crawford Away

San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford first entered the big leagues in 2011 and started playing full seasons a year later. So far in his career he has 19 home runs in 1,354 plate appearances. Almost all of those home runs have been hit off fastballs. According to the zone charts at Brooks Baseball, only two of Crawford’s home runs since 2012 have come off a breaking pitch, in both cases a slider. (I think it isn’t two home runs but actually one, because Brooks has Crawford marked for 17 home runs when he only has 16 in that span. Perhaps there was confusion as to whether one pitch counted as a slider or a cutter, and it was counted twice.)

So, Crawford does most of his limited damage against the fastball, so we filter for that at Brooks and we get two charts. The first shows Crawford’s home runs per balls in play, the redder the zone the hotter he is there.

But HR/BIP isn’t a format anyone is used to. Home runs per fly ball would be better. Luckily Brooks can do FB/BIP; that’s the second, and the rest is easy.

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Crawford goes to the plate with all this mind, we can be reasonably certain, based on the evidence. Head on over to Texas Leaguers and look how the 1,400 or so fastballs thrown to Crawford have been dutifully recorded. He swings at fastballs over the plate and takes most outside. Pitchers don’t throw the ball to him inside but rarely. If a pitch did end up on the inside half, odds are it was a mistake and not some bit of reverse psychology. Brandon Crawford does not boast great power, but even so it would be misguided to challenge him with heat on the inside corner, when you have another way.

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