Five notes on the ridiculous Pablo Sandoval

Typical home-run follow-through. Nothing to see here. - Thearon W. Henderson

Pablo Sandoval is a gift. A jolly, jolly gift. His home run on Tuesday night was the longest home run by a Giant this year, and … aw, heck, let's watch that again:

That home run proves my long-held thesis of "Don't pitch Pablo Sandoval there." For example ...

Screen_shot_2013-05-23_at_12


Don't pitch Pablo Sandoval there! That is a very bad place for a changeup against Pablo Sandoval. Of course, there isn't really a great place to pitch Pablo Sandoval. CSN Bay Area put together a side-by-side shot of two at-bats he had against the Padres last September, and it looked like this:


The one on the left was a dinger. The right was a double. Neither one should have been hit well. So, smart guy, where should teams pitch him? The Internet has answers. And these answers provide me with the Five Greatest Things About Pablo Sandoval-Related Pitch Data.

1. The greatest heat map in the history of heat maps

Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus, here is Pablo Sandoval's average against right-handed pitchers when the outcome of his at-bat is decided:

I can't … It's just … that is so beautiful and hilarious. Again, that's batting-average against from the catcher's perspective, so picture a lefty-swinging Sandoval with his back to you over on the right side of your screen. The place you go in the strike zone is in on his hands but, for goodness sake, don't go too far in! If you miss outside the zone and come close to hitting him, he kind of rakes those pitches. Which doesn't make sense. But, hey, neither does Sandoval.

This leads us to #2 …

2. That same chart, but by slugging percentage

So Sandoval can't really catch up to the Benard-high fastball … but when he does, he hits them 400 feet. And look at the numbers by his ankles. That's an .838 slugging percentage just under the strike zone, and an .821 slugging on the shoe tops.

This next one might be my favorite, though:

3. Those charts don't include the ones that are really outside

The charts are "outside edges to scale," and if you futz with the drop-down menu, you get an option that reads "outside edges infinite." I asked BP's Ian Miller what that meant:

To scale: outer edges are 1/3 the width of the plate/strike zone

Infinite: those pitches PLUS the ones that would've hit the Durham Bull

And if you adjust the chart to infinite …

The average in the two bottom-left corner squares goes up.

4. Over the last two years, left-handed Pablo Sandoval swung at curveballs that bounced on the mound

This is from the catcher's perspective again

Pablo_curve_medium


You can tell it's from the catcher's perspective because it reads "Catcher's perspective." Here, let me get a screen shot:

Screen_shot_2013-05-23_at_1


Those blue dots must be umlauts or something. I think the guy who runs TexasLeaguers is from Slovakia. Yeah, that's it. Because there's no way those are swings.

Now go back up to those heat maps and look where Pablo has most of his success. Low pitches. It makes absolutely no sense.

5. Pitchers still pitch Sandoval low

One last chart. This one has the frequency of the different pitches Sandoval sees:

You're supposed to get him to chase up, but the only pitches he'll get up are fastballs. And you can't throw Sandoval fastballs only, so you have to set those up with waste pitches in the dirt. Except Sandoval swings at those and hits them for a high average. So then you get him to chase up, but the only pitches you'll throw him up are fastballs. The circle of life!

I've been playing around with this data all morning, and I feel like there's something even more ridiculous that I'm not seeing, right under my nose. Until I figure out what those things are, though, here are five ridiculous things about Pablo Sandoval. Turns out he's kind of a freak.

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