Tony LaRussa had been campaigning through the media for an established bat to protect Albert Pujols for nearly as long as Matt Holliday has been on the trading block. There have been many studies done about whether lineup protection is real or myth (google to your hearts content), mosty all of which have concluded myth I believe. With that in mind I’m still going to dig into how the Matt Holliday trade has impacted Albert Pujols (thanks to Azruavatar for the idea). I looked at pitch distributions, % of pitches in the strike zone, % of pitches in the middle of the zone, and various statistics by count.
Clearly those distributions are nearly identical.
|FB in zone||51.9%||53.7%|
Given the questionable sample size (especially in the “after” set of data) there probably isn’t really anything substantial there. The only noticeable difference I could find was in 2-0 counts Albert is seeing more fastballs after the trade (79%) than before (59%), although the “after” sample size is clearly miniscule. Additionally he has seen more strikes 2-0 (68% vs. 47%).
I’d like to revisit this data after the Houston series because then I will have a decent amount of pitches both before and after from the Houston staff. That’s one major drawback of the above analysis, the team/pitcher distribution is clearly not the same before and after the trade. That being said, the evidence points to at best a marginal improvement in pitches to hit, and at worst, statistical noise.
Next I’d like to take a look at hitters hitting in front of Albert vs. later in the order, of which there will at least be more data points.