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Frigid Jack Cust

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Frigid Jack Cust

Postby AussieDodger » Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:17 pm

Jack Cust's playing time has been whittled back bit-by-bit this season with various acquisitions.
His SLG is stinking up the place (still walking like mad though), and I hear a rumour that he can't hit breaking balls.
If this is true, is it fatal for his career going forward? And do you think this is why the A's are sort of phasing him out?
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:21 pm

I'm not sure why he isn't hitting, but you couldn't have possibly expected him to be a major contributer this year. He's still basically a career minor leaguer who had a good month or two last year.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby AussieDodger » Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:13 am

A Fleshner Fantasy wrote:I'm not sure why he isn't hitting, but you couldn't have possibly expected him to be a major contributer this year.


Not major, but in my 20 team, OPS league I expected something. He's not even start-able in that league at present.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby ididapoopy » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:02 pm

i would like to see him play and strikeout 250 times in a full season. now, that's special.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby kimchi_chigae » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:20 am

I have not seen the A's play much this season, but I have been following Jack Cust a little because he's in one of my teams, actually, not anymore. I have read that nobody is throwing this guy any more fastballs and because he can't hit off-speed stuff, he will get his walk, but won't get any hits. He struck out 164 times in only 395 ABs last year, but still maintained a decent AVG for such a horrible ratio. I was hoping he would somehow continue to hit HR, even though the AVG could end up around .240, Adam Dunn lite, if you will. However, it's not looking good for Cust.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby AussieDodger » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:27 am

kimchi_chigae wrote: I have read that nobody is throwing this guy any more fastballs and because he can't hit off-speed stuff, he will get his walk, but won't get any hits. However, it's not looking good for Cust.


That is exactly what I heard. What depth of league did you drop him in? I have him in a deep 20 teamer, so anyone with a sniff of a starting job + some talent is worth a spot on your roster. In that particular league I'm not planning on dropping him until the A's do. Which I'm expecting they could when some of their "sexier" OFers come off the DL or get promoted from the minors.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby kimchi_chigae » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:39 pm

AussieDodger wrote:
kimchi_chigae wrote: I have read that nobody is throwing this guy any more fastballs and because he can't hit off-speed stuff, he will get his walk, but won't get any hits. However, it's not looking good for Cust.


That is exactly what I heard. What depth of league did you drop him in? I have him in a deep 20 teamer, so anyone with a sniff of a starting job + some talent is worth a spot on your roster. In that particular league I'm not planning on dropping him until the A's do. Which I'm expecting they could when some of their "sexier" OFers come off the DL or get promoted from the minors.


I'm playing in a 16 team with 5 OF and I would not have minded at all if he hit 25+HR with .240 AVG, but his lack of HRs so far is killing me because we only have 2 bench spots.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby The Guru » Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:51 pm

Why doesn't he start over scrubs like emil brown and denorforia?
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby SlightlyStoopid » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:01 pm

The Guru wrote:Why doesn't he start over scrubs like emil brown and denorforia?


Brown is leading the team in RBI and is hitting .295, Denorfia plays CF.
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Re: Frigid Jack Cust

Postby kimchi_chigae » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:01 am

AussieDodger wrote:
kimchi_chigae wrote: I have read that nobody is throwing this guy any more fastballs and because he can't hit off-speed stuff, he will get his walk, but won't get any hits. However, it's not looking good for Cust.


That is exactly what I heard. What depth of league did you drop him in? I have him in a deep 20 teamer, so anyone with a sniff of a starting job + some talent is worth a spot on your roster. In that particular league I'm not planning on dropping him until the A's do. Which I'm expecting they could when some of their "sexier" OFers come off the DL or get promoted from the minors.


Apparently the theory about Jack Cust not seeing fastballs this year has been disproved.

from THT. Link

hint: Click the link if you are interested in the article.

Jack Cust: No such thing as a free lunch
by Mike Fast
April 30, 2008

Last year Jack Cust hit 26 home runs in 395 at-bats with the Oakland A's, and he put up an impressive .256/.408/.504 batting line despite 164 strikeouts. I recently took a detailed look at Cust's 2007 performance with the aid of pitch-by-pitch data from PITCHf/x.

This year, Jack Cust has made a less than impressive start, batting .169 with only one home run in his first 23 games (through April 28). Did pitchers adjust to Cust? For example, are they further exposing the weakness we saw last year against the curveball and avoiding throwing him fastballs to hit? Or is Cust still hitting the ball hard but running through a patch of bad luck in April? Or maybe he isn't hitting the ball hard at all.

Let's examine the possible explanations, with reference to the data from the previous article. Is Cust seeing a different pitch mix this year than in 2007? Last year pitchers threw Cust 48 percent fastballs and 52 percent off-speed pitches. What about this year?

Pitch Type LHP Pct RHP Pct
Fastball 32 49% 121 48%
Change-up 2 3% 52 21%
Slider 19 29% 23 9%
Curveball 7 11% 31 12%
Cutter 5 8% 11 4%
Splitter 0% 12 5%
Total 65 250


It looks like pitchers are using a similar approach in 2008 in terms of pitch types in as they did against Cust in 2007.

So, he's not seeing more breaking balls this year. How is he doing against the various pitch types? We know that last year he killed the fastball from right-handed pitchers. Is he doing that again this year?

LHP
Pitch Type Pitches Ball CStrk Foul SwStrk InPlay Avg BABIP SLG HR Runs/pitch
Fastball 32 0.41 0.16 0.16 0.13 0.16 0.400 0.400 0.800 0.000 0.013
Changeup 2 0.50 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.065
Slider 19 0.53 0.32 0.05 0.11 0.00 -0.011
Curveball 7 0.43 0.14 0.00 0.43 0.00 -0.022
Cutter 5 0.40 0.40 0.00 0.00 0.20 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.059
Total 65 0.45 0.23 0.09 0.14 0.09 0.333 0.333 0.667 0.000 -0.001

RHP
Pitch Type Pitches Ball CStrk Foul SwStrk InPlay Avg BABIP SLG HR Runs/pitch
Fastball 121 0.40 0.17 0.16 0.10 0.17 0.350 0.316 0.450 0.050 -0.001
Changeup 52 0.44 0.17 0.08 0.19 0.12 0.167 0.167 0.167 0.000 -0.010
Slider 23 0.52 0.22 0.09 0.13 0.04 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.004
Curveball 31 0.52 0.32 0.03 0.10 0.03 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.005
Cutter 11 0.64 0.27 0.00 0.00 0.09 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.000 0.073
Splitter 12 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.33 0.17 0.500 0.500 0.500 0.000 0.015
Total 250 0.45 0.19 0.10 0.13 0.12 0.323 0.300 0.387 0.032 0.001



Last year, Jack Cust was 16 runs above average against fastballs from right-handed pitchers in the sample for we had PITCHf/x data (covering about three fourths of the pitches Cust saw in 2007). He hit for a .493 batting average and a 1.000 slugging percentage on the 69 fastballs he put into play off right-handed pitching last year. This year he's merely average against the fastball from right handers and only batting .350 and slugging .450 against it. That's not enough to make up for his somewhat subpar performance against other pitch types.

Let's take a quick look at the pitch location charts for the fastball. These charts are shown from the catcher's perspective.

Cust April 2008 Fastball Location Chart

There's nothing that particularly jumps out at me from these charts as a difference from last year. I won't show the charts for the other pitch types since the sample sizes for most of them are fairly small at this point in the season.

We've observed that Jack Cust is not hitting the fastball with authority like he did last year. Let's take a look at where he is hitting balls in the field of play. Field dimensions on these charts are approximate.

Cust April 2008 Fastball BIP Chart Cust April 2008 Off-Speed BIP Chart

Cust is hitting ground balls to the right side and balls in the air to the opposite field.

In the previous article, we observed that Cust hit more fly balls in his hot streaks and more ground balls and pop-ups during his cold streaks. What is his batted ball mix in April this year?

Streak InPlay Fly Ground Line Pop
Apr 2008 39 23% 51% 18% 8%
2007 Hot 134 35% 41% 22% 1%
2007 Cold 103 21% 50% 23% 6%


He's hitting a lot of ground balls and pop-ups this year just like he did during his cold streaks last year. In fact, look at his batted ball charts against the fastball from 2007, split between hot and cold streaks.

Cust 2007 Hot Streak Fastball BIP Chart Cust 2007 Cold Streak Fastball BIP Chart

His batted ball chart from 2008 looks very much like his batted ball chart for his cold streaks from 2007. He's not pulling the ball except on the ground, and that's a recipe for a lot of outs and not many home runs.

Finally, let's take a look at the pitch location for the balls Cust has put in play in 2008.

Cust 2008 BIP Pitch Location Chart

There are a lot of ground balls shown there but nothing that particularly indicates that pitchers are pitching Cust differently than last year or that Cust is making outs because he's swinging at pitches that are hard to hit. In fact, his lone home run came off a pitch just off the outside edge of the plate, and several of the pitches over the heart of the plate have turned into grounders.

I'm curious if Cust is doing something different mechanically with his swing during his cold streaks. He's clearly not pulling the ball in the air, and that doesn't seem to be due to changes in the pitches he's seeing. Unfortunately, I'm not a guy who can pick up flaws in mechanics from video, so I'll have to leave that analysis to someone else.

Mike Fast is a Kansas City Royals fan who enjoys investigating baseball questions using PITCHf/x data. He welcomes questions and comments via e-mail.
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