• Why The Yanks Miss Godzilla

    Posted by on January 2nd, 2013 · Comments (6)

    Great stuff on Godzilla via Vince Gennaro

    Over his seven year Yankee career, [Hideki Matsui] averaged 20 HRs per season, batted .292 and logged an OPS of .852—23% above the league average OPS for those years. What fans will remember most about Matsui was his penchant for the big hit, capped off by his World Series MVP performance in 2009. He came to bat 36 times in the two World Series in which he appeared (2003 and 2009—his first and last years as a Yankee), but managed to hit 4 HRs. He batted .387 in the World Series and put up a remarkable 1.216 OPS. In fact, in 235 postseason plate appearances his OPS was .933.

    For those of you who have been following this blog, you know about the work I’ve done in measuring a hitter’s performance against different quality levels of pitching. I’ve racked up the batter—pitcher matchup data (starting pitchers only) from 2009 through 2011 to see how hitters perform against the best pitching vs. the weakest pitching. This study was of particular interest to me because the quality of pitching is one of the most defining characteristics that differentiates the regular season from the postseason. The pitching is far better in the postseason. Nearly two-thirds of the postseason starting pitcher innings are thrown by the top one-third of regular season starting pitchers (as measured by their OPS against). Not surprisingly, Matsui has an uncanny ability to hit top pitching, which helps explain his postseason prowess.

    Against the top two quintiles, the MLB average for a left-handed hitter is a .641 OPS. Matsui had 387 plate appearances against this group of pitchers over the 3-year period of my study and banged out a remarkable .830 OPS. Over that time period here’s his record (OPS) against some of the top pitchers—vs. David Price, 1.333; vs. Greinke, 1.267; vs. Josh Beckett, 1.032; vs. King Felix, .838; vs. Verlander, .778, vs. Halladay, .752. Matsui also had his nemesis, as Jered Weaver held him to a puny .315 OPS in 27 career plate appearances. I take it that Matsui is not fond of the change-up from righthanders—a pitch Weaver is known to use extensively on left-handed hitters.

    Comments on Why The Yanks Miss Godzilla

    1. MJ Recanati
      January 2nd, 2013 | 11:43 am

      I loved Matsui. Nothing more to add besides that.

    2. KPOcala
      January 2nd, 2013 | 1:40 pm

      A man that apologized for breaking his wrist, his demeanor, and play…He’ll always be up there with Mattingly, O’Neil, and Posada as my favorite Yankees from the last twenty years….

    3. January 2nd, 2013 | 2:00 pm

      KPOcala wrote:

      A man that apologized for breaking his wrist, his demeanor, and play…He’ll always be up there with Mattingly, O’Neil, and Posada as my favorite Yankees from the last twenty years….

      Ditto.

    4. Evan3457
      January 2nd, 2013 | 5:48 pm

      Matsui hit well in the 2003 post-season, and well in the ALDS in 2004 and in the 1st 4 games vs the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS.

      Then, like most of the lineup, he did little-to-nothing in the last 3 games of the 2004 ALCS, and the entire 2005, 2006 and 2007 ALDS series.

      He was so-so in the ALDS and ALCS in 2009, and then was magnificent in the World Series in 2009.

      It isn’t as simple as…he was a great clutch hitter in the post-season. He had a relatively large number of great moments. And a lesser number that were not so great.

    5. Raf
      January 2nd, 2013 | 11:09 pm

      Koshien, 1992
      http://youtu.be/F8lt8BHho1c

      Next game, he would be intentionally walked 5 times…

    6. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 11:57 am

      For the first time ever, I agree with Recanati: I loved Matsui.

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