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THE HEAT INDEX
Albert Chen
June 13, 2011
What makes a good cutter so effective is its late movement—it looks like a fastball, then darts for the outer reaches of the strike zone or off the plate. That effectiveness can be tracked with a heat map, a color-coded graphic that shows how productive batters are when a pitch hits a certain spot. Areas in dark red are hitter-friendly, with pitches there belted at a .500 clip; dark blue represents a batting average of .100; green areas are around .300. The following pages show cutter heat maps for seven pitchers who rely heavily on the pitch. (Pitch frequency data from Fangraphs.com.)
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June 13, 2011

The Heat Index

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In his 23 career starts he's thrown the cutter 26.1% of the time; opponents' batting average against that pitch this season is .213.

THE RISING STARS

MIKE ADAMS

Padres

A pitch that looks like a fastball but is actually a lethal cutter has helped him become one of the game's best setup men. (Fastball heat map shown.)

JAMES SHIELDS

Rays

He has always featured the cutter heavily, but this year it's more effective: A .174 batting average against compared with a .307 last season.

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