Harper’s Home Runs

» 19 August 2010 » In nichibei, npb »

Brett Harper has gotten off to quite a start in Japan. Though he’s cooled off a little bit (3 for his last 23, with 8 K’s), through 33 games and 137 plate appearances he’s sporting a 1.077 OPS and 11 home runs. Harper racked up those 11 homers quickly, in his first 100 or so ABs.

This got me thinking, it is the league or Harper? So I wrote a little query to get the opposing pitcher, pitch type, velocity and count for each of his 11 home runs:

game result pitcher pitch mph balls strikes outs
2010071802 本塁打[ サヨナラ満塁ホームラン ] Marc Kroon forkball 0 0 0 1
2010081002 本塁打 Wei-Yin Chen fastball 88.125 3 2 2
2010070602 本塁打 Wei-Yin Chen fastball 91.875 2 2 1
2010072703 本塁打 Kyuji Fujikawa fastball 96.25 3 2 1
2010072102 本塁打 Kazuki Yoshimi fastball 90 1 1 1
2010070903 本塁打 Yasutomo Kubo forkball 81.25 1 2 1
2010071301 本塁打 Kenta Maeda slider 81.875 3 1 0
2010081102 本塁打[ バックスクリーン ] Masato Kobayashi fastball 82.5 1 2 1
2010080602 本塁打 Shouhei Tateyama fastball 91.875 0 1 1
2010071401 本塁打[ ポール直撃 ] Giancarlo Alvarado slider 81.875 0 0 2
2010080702 本塁打 Masato Nakazawa curve 70.625 1 0 0

Notes: 1. today’s Japanese vocabulary is “honruida”, (本塁打), “home run”. 2. the ‘0’ velocity on the HR off Kroon is the result of my data source lacking velocity data for some pitches.

I was a little surprised; I thought there would be a little bit more of a trend. Harper has hit six bombs on fastballs, and five on breaking pitches. His home runs have come against some of Japan’s best pitchers: Chen, Fujikawa, Maeada, Yoshimi, and some solid performers in Kudo, Tateyama and Alvarado.

So on the flip side, what has Harper struggled with? I wrote another query to get the pitches he’s swung and missed on. Harper has done a pretty good job of making contact, swinging and missing 62 times on the 556 pitches he’s seen this season. Here’s the breakdown:

pitch swinging strikes
changeup 2
curve 4
cut fastball 3
fastball 8
forkball 28
shuuto 1
sinker 1
slider 14
special 1

Forkballs and sliders. Further querying reveals that Harper has seen 94 forkballs and 104 sliders, so he’s chased a large percentage of the forks he’s seen.

So going back to Harper’s recent slump, I took a look at what pitches he’s seen over his last six games:

pitch # thrown
changeup 6
curve 15
cut fastball 8
fastball 39
forkball 33
shuuto 1
slider 20

So it looks like the league has caught on to Harper’s forkball weakness, as he’s seen nearly as many forkballs as fastballs. And accordingly, he’s whiffed on 14 of them.

Now that Harper has shown he can mash NPB fastballs, he won’t see as many of them. Harper’s early success is a great sign, but he’ll have to lay off the breaking stuff and get pitches he can drive.

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