We have heard a lot about Aroldis Chapman in the Yankees loss to the Red Sox 3-2, how he was feeling good, how he made good pitches, and how the home run ball he gave up at 103 mph to rookie Rafael Devers was a “good pitch.” This was even agreed upon by most fans who watched the game and saw the play happen live.
I beg to differ.
As we have all seen, hitters have adapted over the last 10 years. More pitchers are throwing over 98 mph than ever before. As with ANY pitcher, location is still just as important as power. In fact, throwing a 100 mph pitch to a hitter’s wheelhouse or hot zone is deadly even to a non-power hitter.
Look at the images below. #1 is the INTENDED target setup by Gary on that fateful homer. #2 was where the ball was hit. As you can see, the setup was low and away, where even if Devers hits the ball, it is most likely a single or double. Where Chapman missed, many people thought it was a good pitch because of a speed and location in the “upper part of the zone.”
Well unfortunately, although the Yankees did their homework, Chapman’s location did not comply to the percentages. Here is the image of why. As you can see, Devers’ hot zone for fastballs in the last 30 games is exactly where Chapman threw his pitch. Sanchez was setup to the location that wasn’t. This makes it clear that Devers likes to hit the fastball exactly where Chapman threw it.
It does not matter how fast u throw, unless you reach speeds over 130 mph, at which point it would surpass the absolute limit of human reaction plus ability to swing and hit an object from that distance in time. Location is still critical, and guys like Chapman, Tanaka and Severino have consistently given up the long ball because their misses not only missed, but miss into critically bad locations into the hitters’ wheelhouse. Its like golf, where it is not always about how do you on your best actions… it is also how you limit the damage on your bad actions.
So far it seems the Yankee pitchers are hurling balls into the zone with no regard in controlling their misses. Currently the Yankees are the #6 ranked pitching staff in all of MLB, with an ERA of 3.81. They are ranked #9 in homers given up with 134. Overall, in a year no one expected them to make the playoffs, these are impressive numbers. However, it is clear that from their overall staff numbers, homers given up is part of their weakness. However, the staff still has a lot to be proud of going forward into the next few years. There are 20 other teams that would trade places with the Yankees’s staff without a moment’s hesitation.