Open Thread: Cano follow-up


This morning I planned to write about the three Robinson Cano plate appearances from last night in which he drew a walk. I knew there would be a few interesting tidbits — for starters, that it’s not the first time in his career that he’s done it — but what I didn’t expect to find was a trend in his swings for the year. It appears that he’s been laying off pitches outside the zone when it’s delivered low and inside. This was not only something I saw last night, but, according to Cano’s charts from the year, something that has happened all season.

I wondered if this was something that has happened just this season, or if Cano has always been selective on pitches in this location. I don’t have the skills at this point to run a study like this, but two people I work with at FanGraphs, Jeff Zimmerman and Dave Allen, were kind enough to supply some research for me. These are all in the form of heat maps, which are self-explanatory. First up is Jeff, who supplied Cano’s swing data, both from 2007 through 2009, and then a separate chart for this season.

That’s 2007 through 2009. It appears that, at least against right-handers, Cano has done a good job of laying off the low and inside pitch. He fared a bit worse against lefties, as you can see that greenish brownish streak off the plate low and inside, where it is a bit more green against righties. How does that compare to 2010?

Cano has done a bit better against lefties this year on the low and inside pitch. In fact, it looks like he has a pretty good command of the strike zone at this point. He performs a bit worse against righties, especially when the pitch is more low than inside, but that’s something we’ve come to expect from Cano.

Finally, I wondered if Cano should be laying off the low inside pitch. This is where Dave Allen played a large role. He sent a chart, complete with FanGraphs background, showing Cano’s run values. Sure enough, he’s green low and in. Then again, he’s green in the middle of the plate, too, so I’m not sure how much that tells us. Still, it’s worth a look.

Again, thanks to Jeff and Dave for supplying these heat maps. I wish I could produce this type of stuff myself.

With that, this is your open thread for the evening. Talk about whatever right up until game time, when we’ll gear up for a game thread.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. Can you think of a bigger epic baseball managerial fail in recent memory than sending Zambrano to the bullpen?

    To counter that, here’s some epic awesome

    The 7th position in the Yankees lineup is hitting .404/.491/.638 (via Twitter), and, via Mike, just one of the last five starters against the Yankees have made it out of the fifth inning.

    • Jose says:

      Isn’t he owed something like $55 million for the rest of his contract? How can you keep that in the bullpen?

    • Has everybody in the Cubs’ front office lost their collective minds? What a stupid move.

    • bexarama says:

      the Cubs are such a mess. They’re obviously a big market team but they have so many awful contracts… makes you realize that no, it’s not all about just throwing money around.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Zambrano even pitched well last night — 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 3 BB, 9 K. Sure, it took him 120 pitches, but he’s settling in there. Keeping Carlos Silva (!!!) in the rotation over him is straight crazy. Keeping Tom Gorzelanny in the roation over him is worse.

  2. Ian Kennedy and Drew Stubbs for Adam LaRoche and Mark Lowe. Who wins?

  3. bexarama says:

    So I’m looking at the new UZR calculations and they’re amusing for several reasons, most of which I said on the Open Thread. But hey, Teixeira’s a plus defender now!

    Also, for those of you that have mlb.tv or EI, I propose a question: worst broadcasting team? I vote for the Mariners.

  4. Brad Toughy says:

    Boston.com has some great pictures from the Iceland volcano.


  5. Justin Beaver says:

    So the ‘Pitchers-who-did-not-get-past-the-5th-inning’ is up to how many?

    Hope Sheets adds another one to that.

  6. Zambrano to the bullpen? What the fuck?! If he’s the closer, maybe that salvages my fantasy team (since Jason Frasor was demoted) in saves.

    But really, in terms of “real” baseball—what an unbelievably stupid thing to do.

    How pissy are Chicago fans that Selig wouldn’t allow Mark Cuban to purchase the team?

    • bexarama says:

      He’s not gonna close, I don’t think.

      They had planned to move one of the starters to the bullpen when Lilly came back. Everyone assumed it’d be Silva. They were not correct apparently.

    • Mike HC says:

      Decisions like this is why the Cubs have had such an underachieving team even with the high payroll. It says it all about the decision makers. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

  7. bart says:

    I dont mind stats.. and I find a good deal of the basic stats to be useful but, heat maps?? I’m getting to the point where, I see a post like this and immediately move on to the next. I cant be the ONLY ONE who feels this way….. can I?

    • whozat says:

      …so, you hate understanding how things happen and why they happen the way they do?

    • pete says:

      I can’t possibly imagine a scenario in which the above are not incredibly interesting. What is so offensive about them?

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      It’s just a more advanced version of the strike zone with blue and red boxes that have been on video games forever. I don’t see the problem.

    • You’re probably not the only one, but you’re pretty clearly in the minority.

      • Jose says:

        To be honest I’m not a huge fan of them. I’m better with concrete numbers than visualizations. Graphs were never my thing.

        • Do you disregard the posts and want Joe to stop posting them?

          • Jose says:

            No. I know that other people like them, so why stop? It’s just a personal preference due to my visualizing abilities that shouldn’t have an impact on anyone else.

        • pete says:

          that’s different from whining about their existence.

          • Jose says:

            I see now where he said he just moves on. Yeah, I try to understand them even if they aren’t my favorite.

            • pete says:

              yeah. It takes me longer to understand visualizations than raw numbers, but Joe took the time to explain them pretty thoroughly, so even without the graphs the post was, I thought, very interesting, especially for an open thread. There was no need to just come on an discredit Joe’s/Jeff’s/Dave’s work. If you don’t want to read it, don’t, but you don’t need to then go tell everyone that you didn’t read it. That’s just unnecessary.

    • Mike HC says:

      It is just an easy way to show you how often Cano swings at pitches in different areas. If you want to do that analysis, using a heat map, or a similar map of the strike zone, is really the only way to do it effectively. RAB is not using heat maps to show you regular everyday stuff. It is for more in depth analysis.

  8. Jose says:

    Some facts about the offense:
    -4-7 lineup positions all have an OPS over 1.000
    -OPS with RISP is .867
    -OPS with runner on third and 2 outs is .962
    -OPS when the team is behind is .890

    This team gets runners home, even when there are two outs. When they are behind they still grind it out offensively.

  9. Joe, a question on heat maps–what exactly does each color mean?

    • whozat says:

      In the top charts, redder means swinging more often, and it’s a continuum down to purple, which means swinging less.

      In the bottom chart, I believe that redder means more positive offensive contribution down to blue which means negative contribution. I’m not sure if that chart is only pitches he swung at or not.

      • Jose says:

        Yeah, the top 4 graphs are based on swing percentage. 1.0 being 100%.

        The bottom chart redder actually means less offensive contribution and blue means more positive contribution. The colors appear backwards from what I would think they should be.

        I could be wrong though, please someone correct me if I am.

      • Awesome, thanks whozat.

  10. Zack says:

    Texas has 4 runs off of Beckett already. I’d love to see Vlad get 2 more SBs off of Boston catching tonight.

  11. bexarama says:

    Damn, 4-0 Rangers in the second. Ace-iest ace that ever aced not doing too well. Don’t blow it today, Texas >:(

  12. JobaWockeeZ says:

    …This is what I get for drafting Beckett and Lester.

  13. dkidd says:

    i want to like tom seaver, but whenever he visits the fsny booth he sounds like a blowhard

    • pete says:

      whenever he talks in general he bothers me. He’s like Gossage and Ryan that way. I greatly admire their performances as players, but they need to shut the hell up about some things. I like listening to Seaver talk about strategy, but when former pitchers can’t seem to get a grasp on why the game has changed and just assume that everyone up and decided to start doing it wrong really pisses me off.

  14. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Well Viz is back to being Viz.
    7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K

  15. Brad Toughy says:

    Roy Halladay faced 963 batters in 2009 and went to a 3-0 count only 16 times!

    • pete says:

      FACT: Roy Halladay faced 963 batters in 2009 and only allowed 3 of them to score. The rest of them were just disobedient. FACT.

      • First Time Poster says:

        And the three he let score were kinda like paying taxes to the baseball government… sadly, the baseball God had to pay a total of 13 <-Mo.

  16. Jim S says:

    I like Jason Heyward as much as the next guy, but holy cow. The constant fawning over him doing the little things right is driving me up a wall.

    It’s times like this that make me despise a lot of the media we live with. A fantastic young ballplayer, and they’re making me want to STOP seeing him on national TV. Or at the very least stop hearing about him.

    • pete says:

      young player lives up to hype, no matter how small the sample size: he’s the natural.
      young player fails to live up to hype, no matter how small the sample size: he’s a bust.

      There is no such thing as an ordinary young player. Unless he plays for KC or Houston or some other team that ESPN doesn’t care about.

  17. First Time Poster says:

    I didn’t make this connection, but I forget where it was I’d seen it. Look up Nell Carter on google and think of David Ortiz.

  18. Salty Buggah says:

    Damn Fenway. Damn it for last night and for what just happened.

    • Really, the Rangers just suck. There’s no excuse for walking Darnell McDonald to lead off an inning. 92 wins, my ass.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        That’s true. Walking McDonald is just awful. Their pitching against top teams seems atrocious so far.

        While the Rangers are stinking it up, that Drew GS, McDonald HR, and McDonald walk-off single were Fenway specials, though maybe McDonald’s HR was somewhat legit.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        I wonder who will come out on top in that division. I thought Rangers but I have no clue now. Granted it’s still early but I wonder who will suck the least.

        • Oakland. They have the pitching and just enough offense to win it. Don’t count out the Angels either. The Rangers are a third- or fourth-place team.

          • poster says:

            If you’re right, PECOTA nailed this one when nobody else even considered the possibility. As much as we ridiculed PECOTA, if Oakland does win the division we have to tip our hats to them, because they were seriously like the ONLY ones I saw (computer or human) picking Oakland.

          • bexarama says:

            They have the pitching but I don’t see them having the offense. I was on the Texas bandwagon but they look so bad so far.

  19. A.D. says:

    So much for the Rangers lead

    • Dirty Pena says:

      What did you think would happen with Matt Harrison? There’s no use fretting about Red Sox comebacks- with the Blue Jays and Orioles coming up, it’s gonna be happening a lot.

  20. First Time Poster says:

    Still gotta love Beckett getting smacked around like a cheap hooker… the ugliest of all cheap hookers.

  21. I’ll have Lilly coming off of the DL this weekend. Whom should I drop to replace him? Sadly, it’s likely to be IPK. Dammit.

  22. Salty Buggah says:

    Joe West strikes again (though it wasn’t nearly as bad as last time):


  23. Salty Buggah says:

    Darnell effin McDonald. Gotta be shitting me.

  24. Alex S says:

    Yovani Gallardo: 9 k’s through 4 innings. oh yea

  25. Charlie says:

    Wow. Quote from Piniella on the Zambrano shit.

    “You look at these box scores every day around baseball and these games, especially in the National League, they’re won in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth innings,” said Piniella, in his fourth season as the Cubs’ manager. “There are few blowouts early. There’s some obviously but not [a lot].

    “Look, this makes all the sense in the world.”

    Its amazing he can actually believe that. Just awful

    • Alex S says:

      we should immediately move all of out SP’s to the bullpen and demote all of our relievers to the rotation

    • Yeah, Lou! That’s why relievers lead the league in wins every year.

      Wait what?

    • bexarama says:


      to be fair, it does seem, at least early on, like there are a lot of blown saves by various bullpens but I bet if I went through every game the large majority of games would be won by, you know, the starters.

  26. Wow. This dude calling the ESPN game cannot read a fly ball.

    • Jim S says:

      At least 4-5 times tonight they’ve talked about fly balls that would have left other parks. I agreed with them on one. Every other time the ball didn’t even reach the warning track.

  27. Rey22 says:

    Is anyone even remotely surprised at Roy Halladay’s absolute domination of the NL?

  28. ultimate913 says:

    Wow. Rangers just cant get a break. Now Lee is expected to make his debut on the 30th against them. They better hope that he isn’t last years Lee.

  29. Yay Melky w/the catch.

  30. Strike one to Glaus was in the same location as ball one.

  31. Jimmer says:

    When does Andrew McCutchen become a free agent?

    For me, this will be the most exciting day since the release of Shakespeare in Love in theaters

  32. dkidd says:

    over/under for halladay’s era this year?

  33. bexarama says:

    Wow the Cubs are so bad

  34. Tommy S says:

    Hey Mondesi,check your fantasy team, I sent you a trade request.

  35. dkidd says:

    lol josh beckett

  36. First Time Poster says:

    101 pitches through 8. Still, would have been furious if Jesus was traded.

  37. First Time Poster says:

    Also, leaving Halladay to hit in the top of the 9th with a man on third and two out… good/bad move by the Philly skippe?

  38. (Insert earthquake joke here)

  39. bexarama says:

    I am SO GLAD Roy Halladay is no longer in the AL

  40. First Time Poster says:

    Imagine what the media would do if Glaus gets on, and Heyward hits a game-tying homer.

  41. First Time Poster says:

    Over/under 21 wins for Doc if he were with the Yanks this year?

  42. First Time Poster says:

    7IP 6H 7R 5BB 4K 1HR = True Ace

  43. V says:

    Is tsjc here today? NFL draft question.

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