Heading into tonight’s game against Atlanta, Philadelphia Phillies second basemen Chase Utley is leading the majors in homeruns with 21. He is three ahead of the second place HR hitter, fellow 2B Dan Uggla. Utley has been on a torrid pace out of the starting gate, as he is one homer behind his total for last season (Utley did miss a month to a fractured right hand). One look at his at bats per home run tell exactly how special this season is for Utley:
2005: 19.39 AB/HR (28 HR)
2006: 20.56 AB/HR (32 HR)
2007: 24.09 AB/HR (22 HR)
2008: 11.43 AB/HR (21 HR and counting)
That would be good for 70th on the all-time single season list, and is nearly a full at bat better than the second place hitter (Adam Dunn at 12.1).
So how has Utley found the long ball so well this year? Let’t take a look at a few things. First, here is a Utley’s home runs this year by pitch speed (these are through his 19th homer of the season):
Now here are the pitch locations on all home runs he has hit:
Utley’s Home Runs are coming on pitches that are middle to away. He has not hit an inside pitch for a home run this year. His ability to turn on a pitch is remarkable. If pitchers want to avoid a four-bagger, they should look to work him more inside.
Finally, this is where the home runs have landed, according to hittrackeronline.com:
Only one of his home runs this year is to the opposite field. He is taking outside pitches and pulling them for home runs. He is using tremendous strength and bat speed to pull the ball into the stands.
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