Thanks to Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker for allowing me to reproduce his data.
Kosuke Fukudome's First Four Big League Home Runs:
PITCHf/x and Hit Tracker
Kosuke Fukudome has had a good enough season to be in the Top 3 in the NL All-Star voting for outfielders. His OBP and defense are impressive, and he's proven to be an exciting player to watch - at the plate and in the field. He's made quite a splash, and the voting reflects it.
Coming from Japan, there were the natural questions about how Kosuke's numbers would translate on this side of the Pacific. The Conventional Wisdom seemed to indicate he'd keep most of his on base skills, but lose some power. To date, that's what we've seen, but with even less power than most would've expected.
Most projections had Fukudome tagged in the mid-teens, but he just hit his fourth of the season on June 5. It was also his first outside of Wrigley Field since his major league debut. All four of came against right-handed pitchers.
#1 Eric Gagne - March 31, 9th Inning
With no outs, Fukudome hit a three-run homer to right-center. Gagne fell behind 3-1 and served up a belt-high fastball.
#2 Brandon Medders - May 10, 7th Inning
On a 2-0 count, Medders threw a nice, straight fastball, outside half of the plate, just below the belt. Like the Gagne shot, Aramis Ramirez was on base and the pitch was outside enough for Fukudome to extend his arms.
#3 Aaron Cook - May 30, 6th Inning
The wind-aided shot off Aaron Cook was on a sinking fastball, thigh-high and, again, out over the plate. This was a 2-1 pitch, with Micah Hoffpauir on base, and nobody out. It was the beginning of a 8-run comeback for the Cubs.
#4 - Chad Billingsley - June 5, 1st Inning
This one broke the mold of at home, ahead in the count, fastball, late in the game. It was also pulled a little more into the power alley, and the pitch was at his knees and right down the middle. Like #3, it was wind-aided.
- First on the road (Dodger Stadium)
- Even count (1-1)
- 1st Inning
Here are the images detailing the pitches. Clicking the image will take you to a larger version.
Plate location (ft.)
Spin Movement (in.)
Release Point (ft.)
A "flat" view from home plate, combining the three above. The dotted line shows path straight from hand to plate. For illustration purposes, it is not adjusted for perspective, so 4 ft. at home plate looks the same as 4 ft. at the mound, which obviously is not realistic.
This is a view from along first base, mound on the right. This shows release height, angle and vertical movement
Same idea, this time from above, to get an idea of horizontal movement
Billingsley's curveball stands out on its own, and Cook's pitch appears to be a two-seam sinker, while Medders and Gagne appear to have thrown four-seamers. Gagne's pitch could be a two-seamer, which is typically the choice for a right-handed pitcher facing a left-handed hitter.
Using Hit Tracker's data, here's a look at ball flight.
For the three at Wrigley, you can see the flight paths above. I've added in the colored lines to match the pitch charts above, and to provide some idea of the "curve" from wind/spin on the ball. It is hard to see, but I've added colored dots for "Standard" distance - how far the ball would've flown without the impact of wind, temperature and altitude. For #3, the homer of Cook, which is in orange, you can see where the ball would've landed, well short.
In Dodger Stadium, his luck was good again, as it would've been short of the fence, based on Standard distance. Of his four home runs, two were "legit", two were lucky.
If you look closely, you can see the Wrigley landing spots, too.
|True Dist (ft)||SOB (mph)||Standard Dist. (ft.)||Elev Angle||Horiz Angle||Apex|