Colorado Rockies news: Brendan Rodgers and the shadow problem

Brendan Rodgers is having one of the weirdest seasons of any major leaguer in 2022. Coming into May, he was hitting an insanely bad .078/.172/.098 and had been benched for a few ball games towards the end of the month. Then, like flipping a switch, he started to rake, hitting .313/.351/.514 in May and June and looking very much like the best prospect he was not too long ago. He brawled in July, however, hitting .233/.309/.367. The overall line comes out at .260/.313/.420, a below average performance mainly caused by its horrible April. Since May 1, he’s hitting .295/.341/.481 despite his recent fights, a great slant line, especially when paired with his upgrades with the glove.

But there’s something stopping it from really popping, and we’re going to take a look at it today. A spoiler: this has to do with the gray area which is the edge of the strikezone and the results he gets in those places.

The shadow zone

First, let’s define the shadow box. Baseball Savant divides the strike zone into four zones: Heart (pitches in the middle), Shadow (edges of the zone, i.e. strikes, pitches just on the edge and pitches near but still balls), Chase ( locations that are clearly balls) and Waste (locations away from the area). To make it easier for you, here’s a visual of all the Shadow locations Brendan Rodgers has seen this season:

baseball scholar

The shadow area of ​​the plate is the most important part of it. Swing decisions here can make or break a hitter’s productivity. So how is Brendan Rodgers doing in the shadow zone?

In a word: bad! Of 136 batters who saw at least 500 pitches in the shadow zone, he ranks third in weighted on-base average (wOBA), one of only three below .200. His company isn’t great: Spencer Torkelson, who just got demoted to Triple-A, Tony Kemp, who hits .203/.282/.263, Max Muncy, who’s been crashing all season… you understand. Rodgers has a lot of trouble with pitches on the edges of the plate, and there’s one set of pitches in particular that gives him major problems.

Fastball problems

Rodgers doesn’t hit balls that break in the shadow area very well, but that’s nothing special, even among good hitters in the Major League. It’s the fastballs that really hurt him: he hits .130/.193/.182 against them, and his -13.3 Run Value and .175 wOBA both rank third in the big leagues (min. 500). He hits them too often on the ground (average launch angle of 4.9º), and one of the most notable quirks of his issues with fastballs is the direction of his hit ball events:

baseball scholar

It’s quite amazing. Rodgers has fielded 59 shadow zone fastballs this season, and only one of them can be called a flyball hit, one of the lowest rates in all of baseball. And while his BABIP on those edge fastballs (.155) is extremely low, and his expected stats are much better (.230/.285/.374) than his actual line (.130/.193/.182) , the expected line still isn’t good, and just like with Connor Joe earlier this season, he’s getting beaten on fastballs in the inside third, hitting just .059 against them without a single extra hit.

If Brendan Rodgers, who is already a solid everyday player, is going to take the next step to true stardom, performing better against throws to the edges of the plate is a must, and especially against fastballs. Let’s see what happens in the second half.

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