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Pull Hitter vs Power Hitter – The Hammer vs The Dunn-key

March 2, 2010

As we wait for spring games to begin, we’ll finish up our recaps from 2009.  In today’s edition, we’ll look at the difference between a pull hitter, and a power hitter. The Nats have two players whose hitting approaches perfectly highlight the difference – Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn.

Here is the 2009 line for each player:

Player
  GP 
  AB
  H 
 2B 
 3B 
 HR






  BA
 OBP
  SLG
 OPS
Adam Dunn
 159 
 546 
 146 
 29 
  0
  38






0.267 
 0.398 
 0.529 
 0.928
Josh Willingham 
 133 
 427
 111
 29
  0
  24






0.260 
 0.367
 0.496
 0.863

The numbers are not too different, but look how each player arrived at those numbers. I created spray charts for each hit in 2009. The field dimensions are an average for all fields – some home runs look like they are in the park, and some doubles look like they should have been home runs, but it is a side effect of trying to show all major league parks on a single graph. Here’s the spray chart for Josh Willingham.

You almost don’t need a right fielder with Willingham at the plate. He is the definition of a pull-hitter.

Here’s the spray chart for Dunn.

Adam showed power to all fields. In fact almost a third of his home runs were to the opposite field.

As long as Dunn continues to show power to all fields, he will be a formidable force at the plate. Josh Willingham’s  productivity currently rests on his ability to quickly get his hands into the hitting zone. As Willingham gets older and his bat speed drops, we will likely see a rapid decline in his offensive stats.

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