Major League Baseball is an information rich industry with detailed advanced scouting and information on how to attack hitters who have never seen a big league pitch, a hitter like Bobby Bradley. What is more is that a pitching approach is revelatory in that it reflects an opposing teams perception of the hitters weakness or potential holes. With this in mind is a review of Bobby Bradley’s four plate appearances in his Major League debut.
2nd inning-Runners on first and second versus Daniel Norris-Double
The first plate appearance is not particularly revelatory except that the first pitch thrown is a slider. First pitch slider is significant respect for a hitter in his first career plate appearance. Alas, on the second pitch Bradley hit a high fly ball to left field which got down because it was well positioned against a Detroit Tigers outfield shift. The fly ball had an exit velocity of 94.7 MPH, which is above average but too high of launch angle; the expected batting average on that fly ball’s exit velocity and launch angle is .040. Never the less, it is a huge relief to get the first big league hit out of the way immediately.
4th inning- Leading off the inning against Daniel Norris-Lineout
In the fourth inning, Bradley attacked the first pitch which was again slider. A positive is that Bradley recognized the slider and put it in play. Once again, Norris pitching backwards with breaking ball first is an interesting note. The result was a soft liner with 76.7 MPH exit velocity and an expected batting average of .330.
6th inning- bases empty with two outs versus Daniel Norris-Strikeout
Now we have a pattern. Norris faced Bradley three times and threw a total of 7 pitches to the burly first baseman. Of those 7 pitches, 6 were breaking balls, and of those 6, 5 were sliders. Further, the sliders were located away, away, away. In this plate appearance there was one slider called for a strike, and two swings and misses on sliders. The curveball was a big miss, to the point that it was unlikely to induce a swing. Here, we have a data point to track from LHP, breaking ball away may be a perceived weakness.
8th inning- one out and a runner on first base against Jose Cisnero-Walk
Cisnero, a right-handed pitcher attacked Bradley very differently leaning heavily on his four-seam fastball and failing to control it effectively. Bradley did well to spit on three fastballs outside of the zone and take his first big league walk.
Any game, any at bat is just a moment in time and conclusions regarding its implications can be dangerous and deceptive. However, observing Bradley it is important to piece together how other teams will attack him and on Sunday the first few pieces in this likely 10,000 piece puzzle have been put together.
Norris, whose slider is his second best offering, consistently threw it to Bradley, and appeared to target low-and away, though command fluctuates. It appears that the Tigers believe breaking balls away from left-handers are a weakness to attack for Bradley, and for Norris it worked effectively. Tracking future game-plans for lefties and righties against Bradley will further inform the initial perception.
On Sunday, June 24, 2019, Bobby Bradley collect his first hit, first RBI, and first walk with hundreds of mini-matchups coming soon.