Prior to the start of the season I took a look at Shin-Soo Choo’s power outage last year and determined that one of the primary contributing factors was his inability to hit sliders. 64 percent of Choo’s decline in slugging percentage from 2010 (.484) to 2011 (.390) could be attributed to his lack of production against the pitch.
Now that we’re a little over one month into the season, let’s take a look at how Choo has adjusted so far in 2012.
Unfortunately, the results aren’t good. 13 of Choo’s 86 at-bats have ended in a slider, only one resulting in a hit (.077 BA). What is somewhat surprising about this trend is that Choo can’t seem to figure out how to adjust to sliders from righties or lefties. Against sliders from right-handed pitchers, Choo is batting .128 over the past two seasons, compared to .182 against lefties.
But Choo’s struggles against sliders are just part of a larger problem: off-speed pitches. The table on the right shows Choo’s batting average by pitch speed, with 85 miles per hour as the breaking point.
As you can see, Choo’s numbers have dropped across the board, but it’s his performance against off-speed pitches that has reached an unacceptable level. Over the past two seasons, Choo’s .186 batting average on pitches under 85 miles per hour ranks him 186th out of 199 qualifying players.
As dangerous as Choo can be at times, he’s become an easy out for any pitcher with a quality off-speed pitch.
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