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How to Pitch Miguel Cabrera

The following is a look using heat maps at how to pitch Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (RHH). I am going to go through an overview of his hitting and then looks at his hitting pattern depending on the count. First there are 2 assumptions

  1. I am going to assume the Mark Wegner is the umpire. I determined him to be the most neutral umpire currently working in the majors.

  2. The pitcher is right handed. Currently all the Royal's starters are right handed and most of the relievers. A complete redo of the data would need to be done for a left handed pitcher.

There is a huge limitation to the analysis and it is that pitch type is not taken into account. Currently, the Pitch FX is about 76% accurate on pitch type classification. It is done real time by a person at the game and for a while it wasn't rechecked. I plan at some point going through and reclassifying and readjusting the data myself, but that is a project for another day/month.


I have chosen Mark Wegner for the analysis and here is his called strike zone for a right handed hitter.


The scale is the number of called strikes over the total of called strikes and balls. The values is a decimal form where 0.5 is 50%. All images are from the catcher/umpire's perspective, the box is the rule book strike zone and the circle is added for reference:


His zone is relatively square and the 50-50 line (green border) almost fits the strike zone.

Miguel Cabrera



This image is the pitches that Miguel swings compared to all pitches. It doesn't matter if they are balls or strikes, just the ball's location if he swings.



Comparing this image to the umpire image, it can be seen that Miguel doesn't swing at pitches high and low and outside that the umpire Wegner may call a strike. Also Miguel chases balls inside that are out of the zone.


This doesn't give the whole picture since Miguel may lay off outside pitches early in the count, but swings at them later. Also, he may be able to hit the inside pitches for power.


The following image shows the average run value for each pitch in that location. The values are taken from this article by Joe Sheehan at are used. Basically each ball and strike or play result is given a run value. Positives value are good, negative values are bad. Here are the values for Miguel against RHP:



Miguel has few areas where he can cause problems, low and inside, in the middle and higher and away. If you want to throw him a strike and general have a positive results, throw is low and away or pitches up and in.


These are Miguels overall patterns. Next is a look at how he performs at each count (some of the heat maps may have to go to a less detailed image as the sample of data decreases). For each strike zone I will give Miguel's strike zone, his weighted strike zone and then some analysis

0-0  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone00_medium Mcwait00_medium

To get a called strike, pitch him low and away. This cam be seen by comparing the umpires and Miguel's strike zone. The run values in the lower right quadrant are also not positive. This is a nice are to stay in. Especially don't throw low and inside.


0-1  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone01_medium  Mcwait01_medium
Again Miguel is swinging at everything that is not in the lower right quadrant. His only positive values are in the lower half of the plate. Time to pitch him high in the zone.


0-2  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone02_medium  Mcwait02_medium
Miguel has really expanded his zone here, but seems to do the most damage in the heart of the plate. This is the one count where you could pitch is low in the middle, but is is best to pitch high out of the zone across the middle of the plate. He always swings at those pitches and has a nice negative run value.

1-0  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone01_medium  Mcwait01_medium
Again, the best bet would be to work him low and away or up and inside.

1-1  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone11_medium  Mcwait11_medium
No real surprise here, negative run values low and away and high and inside.


1-2  Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone12_medium  Mcwait12_medium
Miguel doesn't do well with 2 strikes. He is swinging at pitches over the entire zone. Like 0-2, he is chasing stuff high in the zone. Also, there is a zone low and in the middle where he is taking pitches to get a possible called strike.



Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone20_medium  Mcwait20_medium
Not for sure what to think here. He doing good hitting he low and inside pitches and only swinging at about half the pitches in the zone. He may be just sitting on one pitch here. Nice negative run value low away. This area again may be the safest bet.


2-1 Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone21_medium  Mcwait21_medium
Miguel is swing at all pitches in the inner half of the plate, but only hitting balls good in the center part of the plate. He may be think that the pitcher doesn't want to go to 3-1 so he is looking for a pitch down the middle.


2-2 Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone22_medium  Mcwait22_medium
Again, with 2 strike, Miguel has really expanded his zone. Also again he is chasing pitching high in the zone for negative run value.

3-0 Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone30_medium  Mcwait30_medium
What you see her is that he is basically taking on 3-0 counts and sometimes case pitches high and inside for negative results.

3-1 Strike Zone and Weighted Zone


Mczone31_medium  Mcwait31_medium 
Miguel is definitely looking to swing at pitches in the lower half of the plate, with the best results middle and away. This looks like a good chance to again go for the high strike. I am wonder if Miguel is only looking at one pitch and the negative run value zone that is low and inside is bad contact off the same swing.


3-2 Strike Zone and Weighted Zone

Mczone32_medium  Mcwait32_medium
Where is Miguel swinging? Everywhere in the zone and high again. Where is he getting positive run values? Low and inside. Looks like again, high in the middle or low and away.




By looking at the two over view charts, it shows where Miguel does his damage and these areas should be avoided in all counts. It is always safe to pitch him low and away. If it is a pitcher's count, he expands his zone and he can chase pitches for negative results high in the zone. Also when the count is 2-0 and 2-1, he looks for pitches on on the inner half of plate.


If I have time, I may look at major hitter in each up coming series to see where that hitter's weakness's are located.