I’m back to take another look through Batting Goggles. This time we’ll be checking out Mets ace Johan Santana against his Opening Day opponent, the Florida Marlins. Specifically we’ll be taking a look at Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan and Dan Uggla.
Let’s take a look at Johan. I’ve flipped the order here to make it make a little more sense with Johan vs LHB on the left and Johan vs RHB on the right.
We see that lefties actually had a lot more success in the zone against Johan, which I’ve looked at a bit previously and which does show up in his platoon splits as Johan held righties to a .644 OPS but allowed lefties to OPS .814 against him. Johan had a short season, making only 25 starts, and was pitching injured which affected his command to some degree but still managed to be a very successful pitcher in 2009. There are some concerns about his velocity dropping a few miles per hour over the past few seasons and 2010 will be a key year for Santana.
We see from the above that lefties had a lot of trouble when Johan pitched them inside and that the opposite was true for righties who struggled when the ball was over the middle of the plate or outside. Both types of batters did well when Santana left the ball high, which he seemed to be doing more last year, perhaps due to his injury.
Santana’s change-up is still among the best in the game and is much of the reason why he is so successful against right handed batters. He switches to the slider more against lefties.
The first Marlins batter we’ll take a look at is Hanley Ramirez. I’m going to include two charts for him, mainly because his heat map against all pitchers is so darn impressive. I’ll put Hanley vs lefties on the left and Hanley vs all pitchers on the right.
At this point it’s pretty common knowledge that Hanley Ramirez is one of the best hitters in the game but look at that consistency in every area of the strike zone. In 2009 Hanley had no weak point to attack. He destroyed high pitches and did a great job on low pitches at well.
Against lefties he was a little more manageable though not by much. He seemed to like the ball low and inside against lefties last year but also thrived on pitches in the middle, up and inside or away. I’m honestly not sure what approach I’d take when pitching to Hanley but since Johan does such a good job low and away against righties I’d expect him to go there. Johan managed to hold Hanley to 2 of 15 last year so there is some hope for the Mets here.
Next up we’ll take a look at 2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. Coghlan had an extremely impressive rookie year and despite being a lefty we see that he had a pretty impressive heat map against lefties. Coghlan, in fact, had almost no platoon split last year hitting .316/.385/.429 against lefties.
Johan has never faced Coghlan and again it’s tough to see where he’ll pitch to him. The areas where Johan thrives against lefties (inside) Coghlan seems to do quite a good job on. Johan will have to pitch him extremely carefully and will have to throw strikes since Coghlan has shown the ability to take walks.
Last up we have Dan Uggla, the Marlins powerful second baseman.
Johan will probably want to stay high and/or away from Uggla who appears to like the ball low and inside. Uggla was good at getting on base against lefties last year checking in with a line of .208/.344/.409 which was probably heavily influenced by his .215 BABip against left handed pitchers. Johan has even more success against Uggla holding him to one hit in 17 at bats.
As a Mets fan I am looking forward to watching Santana pitch on Opening Day. The Marlins have traditionally proved to be a good match-up for Johan as they are a young team which is susceptible to off-speed pitching. However, it won’t be easy as the Marlins do have a lot of quality, young hitters and will have ace Josh Johnson on the mound.
You never want to read too much into one start but getting off on the right foot would be huge for both Johan and the Mets in 2010. Johan will have at least two things going for him this year which he didn’t have last time he dueled Josh Johnson: full range of motion in his arm and an experienced left fielder. Hopefully he can put both to good use and get the Mets their first win of the season.