Posted: 2021-05-08 13:14:35 (ET) [ 1277 views ]
How has Nolan Arenado performed after his well publicized trade to St. Louis? Is he showing the same dominance he showed at home as a Rockie, or is he now doing better while away from his new home stadium without the Coors Field factor? Is he following DJ LeMahieu's pattern, or not?
At BaseballVMI, we look at how each player adjusts to "each type of pitch" when they experience differing ball movement caused by changes in air density (altitude + temperature + humidity). As many of you know by now, Nolan Arenado was dominant at home while playing in Coors Field, but struggled like all other Rockies players when going on the road. This has plagued the Rockies for decades and they have still not "chosen" how to deal with it. When they first heard there would be a way to duplicate the pitch movement in a more expensive batting cage at Coors Field, they opted for a very cheap ($1,500) alternative--the now infamous "Humidor." That experiment did not help any of their road numbers and only helped the visiting pitcher grip the ball better while also helping the home pitcher. It did knock down the number of runs scored per game from 13 to about 11, but did nothing for their overall competitiveness. Furthermore, their insistence upon not spending money on that hitting/pitching cage has continued to haunt them, just as I told them that it would in 2001.
The four-seam fastball remains the primary pitch in MLB. Why? Because, it is the velocity king and gives the hitter little time to react to its movement at the end of the pitch (tail-off). Further, when it is a big part of the mix it must also be accounted for by the hitter, and that makes secondary pitches more effective.
Arenado was very effective hitting the four-seamer while at home in Coors Field. His numbers were well up into the low teens hit percentage in strikes presented to him as long as he was not adjusting to road differences in ball movement. That is; whether at home, or after 1/2 dozen or more games on the road, his visual memory of the pitch did not betray him. The four-seamer contribution to his overall batting average remained well above .100 on that pitch while the average in MLB remains about a .097 contribution to a .275 batting average.
Arenado's numbers in varied adjustment levels are reflected according to the VMI range. Obviously, when he is adjusting to an extremely different environment, the VMI range is very high (absolute-both plus & minus) vs. very low.
BELOW: Report #2 Hitter by VMI: These numbers show hit performances overall are very good, but one must look at the specific pitch to see against which pitches he is most effective.
*These numbers are based on pitches we've been able to record to this point.
Below: You can see his average broken down by pitch-type. You can see these numbers on our website under "Sortable Stats" report #5 - MLB top 50, for any active hitter in the league.
As you can see, Nolan Arenado is struggling with the 4-seamer. He is adjusting quite well to the slider, and sinker and the change-up presents no problem for him. So, his decent overall batting average is primarily due to his ability to adjust to downward breaking pitches in a heartbeat. His talent is undeniable, his adjustment to the 4-seamer is only about a month away and he will again be dominant.
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