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:
|2010071802||本塁打[ サヨナラ満塁ホームラン ]||Marc Kroon||forkball||1|
|2010081102||本塁打[ バックスクリーン ]||Masato Kobayashi||fastball||82.5||1||2||1|
|2010071401||本塁打[ ポール直撃 ]||Giancarlo Alvarado||slider||81.875||2|
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:
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:
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.