Over at THT I wrote an article on first pitch fastballs and I wanted to share all the info on the Brewers hitters here. If any of the variables aren't clear you can check that article for all the details.
Ok so a few words on each hitter.
Branyan saw less and less fastballs as the season went on but the ones he got he hammered. Basically every fastball in the zone he swung at and he wasn't horrible swinging at pitches outside the zone. It will be interesting to see how well he can keep this up next year with the M's.
Braun has been chided for not working the count but he really wan't flailing at too many fastballs out of the zone. In fact he even didn't swing all that much on fastballs in the zone. Pitchers were somewhat careful not throwing too many first pitch fastballs to Braun but when they did they threw more in the zone that I would have expected knowing his swinging ways.
For a guy who strikes out as much as Cameron does he sure doesn't swing too much at first pitch fastballs. For someone with Cameron's power he really isn't swinging much early. Pitchers appear to be aware of this throwing him almost league average fastballs and more for strikes than league average.
Counsell is exactly what you would expect for a middle infielder who lives by taking some walks. He doesn't swing often on first pitch fastballs and pitchers know this and are happy to throw him fastballs to start the at bat.
Durham too saw a lot of first pitch fastballs but far less than league average strike percentage. It appears that pitchers were expecting him to swing a lot at the balls but he was around league average. If that continues Durham will continue to get into decent hitting counts and that might prolong his career.
A lot of the talk about Fielder mid season was about how pitchers were working him differently compared to his 50 homer season the year before. One of the big differences was first pitch fastballs. Fielder saw less first pitch fastballs and way less fastballs for a strike than league average. Fielder did respond being at league average at not swinging at balls and swinging more than league average at the strikes. If Fielder can lay off some more of those first pitches out of the zone he is going to be even more dangerous.
Bill Hall is a very well known fastball hitter and got many few first pitch fastballs than league average. When pitchers did throw the fastball they were more likely to throw it in the zone and when they did do that Hall responded by hitting the ball well. Depending how much playing time Hall gets next year it will be interesting to see if he can lay off some of those first pitches out of the zone and keep hammering the ones in the zone.
J.J. Hardy produced some of the most shocking results of any player I looked at. Hardy who I certainly think of as a fastball hitter laid off first pitch fastballs especially the ones in the strike zone. Pitchers didn't seem to take advantage of this however throwing him almost exactly the league average number of first pitch fastballs. For a hitter that doesn't walk as much as Hardy I was surprised at how few times he would swing. He must want to see a few pitches and then pick one out he likes.
Hart was one of the most disappointing players I looked at. For a guy who spent a lot of time hitting behind Fielder and Braun he was way too willing to swing especially at pitches outside the zone. Swinging at 30% of fastballs outside the zone just isn't going to work. He needs to stop swinging at those and maybe he will get a few more hittable ones. I know Hart simply isn't going to ever walk enough but he has to stop swinging at balls out of the zone.
Kapler was one of the surprise stories for the Brewers last year and he really controlled the zone on the first pitch. While not having much success when he did swing just not swinging at balls is a huge step in the right direction. It should be interesting to see if he sees more fastballs with the Rays with him swinging so infrequently.
Kendall is the classic light hitting catcher seeing a huge number of first pitch fastballs and many of those for strikes. Kendall still swung less often than average and when he did make contact he didn't really do much with it not surprisingly. At least he drives the opposing pitcher's pitch count up.
I don't really have much to say about Lamb. He is on the list because he ended the year as a Brewer. He too swung way too much at fastballs out of the zone and I think his results speak for himself.
Rickie Weeks had just a dreadful season and it all started with the first pitch. Weeks saw very few fastballs and those that he did see he couldn't handle. The best thing I can say is he wasn't expanding the zone on the first pitch and pitchers threw him very few fastballs in the zone. That said, he needs to do much much better on hitting the fastballs he swings at. Rickie might not ever hit too breaking balls too much but if he can't hit the fastball he isn't ever going to make it.