And next, the American League hitters.
Salvador Perez, C: .283/.329/.437, 11 HR, 36 RBI
Watching Salvador from afar, I see a big, strong catcher. The books on young hitters are changing; they aren’t the greenbacks they once were when the first came into the league. I would use the fastball away to set him up to chase a slider. Perez hunts fastballs, so a well-placed and timed slider can work on him. Use the fastball away to set up, and then attack with a slider away out of the zone and try to make him whiff.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B: .306/.364/.534, 14 HR, 75 RBI
Miguel is the best. He sets up so comfortably in the box, he reminds me of Albert Pujols in that right. You can’t throw two pitches in the same area to him. Pitchers have to get lucky. He’s the best hitter in the league. I didn’t like guys wouldn’t jump at pitches or over swing. There’s no good feeling against a hitter that comfortable. Facing a guy like that, you have to try to think of the pitch that he isn’t looking for. If I had to make one pitch to him is isn’t going to be a fastball. Something is moving, perhaps a slider away.
Robinson Cano, 2B: .334/.393/.462, 7 HR, 57 RBI
Cano is always balanced. He’s aggressive and expands the zone, but puts the ball in play outside of the zone better than anyone else I see today. One has to move the ball around the quadrants with Cano, and make him chase down if possible. He gets on top of pitches very well, and destroys the inside pitch. A well-executed splitter or curveball down in the zone is your best bet. A backdoor curveball that looks like a ball but comes back over the plate might work as a put away pitch if he’s properly set up.
Derek Jeter, SS: .272/.324/.322, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Jeter is the master of killing the pitchers pitch. I never wanted to pitch in and help him hit the ball to right field. He waits out he good pitches for the one he wants. His ability to hit inside-out is what will make him dangerous until his last swing. When a hitter is not looking to pull the fastball in, it isn’t as effective because he can stay on the pitch for longer. You have to make a better pitch away than he realizes. Make him think he can get to it. A front door slider that comes in, then goes out, hitting inside part of zone can freeze him in big spots, but it’s a tough pitch to execute on command.
Josh Donaldson, 3B: .238/.317/.449, 20 HR, 65 RBI
Josh Donaldson has huge power, but he can be aggressive, so plan A should always be to expand his zone. He has the power to send the ball out to any field; he really has freakish power. He’s a guy you have more opportunities to strike out, but don’t make a mistake unless you want. Use off-speed against him; show him a bunch of softer well located pitches, but move them around before he settles in on a quadrant.
Mike Trout, OF: .310/.400/.606, 22 HR, 73 RBI
Best advice: catch him when not seeing the ball. I didn’t face many hitters as versatile as Trout. I’d have to experiment. He’s a big time hitter with the speed to beat out choppers. I’d have to see about expanding the zone. I’d have to be aggressive. I’d try the split finger fastball down set up off the fastball away. Make the best pitch I can make and hope he can’t adjust within the at bat. Over the course of a game, I wouldn’t show him too much early. If he gets a hit early on, fine; I know I’d need something to surprise him with later in game.
Jose Bautista, OF: .292/.409/.502, 17 HR, 54 RBI
When staring down Jose Bautista, stay away from the inside half. Keep everything away unless you’re trying to set him up with an inside fastball. A slider that breaks in toward the batter could knock him off balance. There’s room away to get him out, especially if you can get him to dive at a pitch, which he does from time to time. The biggest caveat for him is this: mistakes in the middle or inside cannot be expected to come back.
Adam Jones, OF: .301/.324/.486, 16 HR, 54 RBI
The sweeping strike away is a pitchers friend against Adam Jones because he is another younger hitter that will expand the zone. He can hit the high and low pitches, but he is suspect away because he doesn’t cover the entire plate as well as some of the other All Stars. Also in similar fashion to the All Stars, inside pitching is a risky proposition with Jones. The slider outside of the zone after fastballs down can sit him down.
Nelson Cruz, DH: .2887/.353/.570, 28 HR, 74 RBI
Nelson is a prototypical power guy, very dangerous in the middle of any lineup, even among the other All Stars. Make him uncomfortable with crisp pitches up or in. The away pitch isn’t as effective with Cruz as it is with other hitters because Nelson covers the plate really well. You have to be able to show him something inside without letting him get to it. In terms of off speed pitches, I’d lean on the slider more so than the curveball because of his swing. Nelson’s bat stays through the zone a bit longer than most, so he might catch a bad curve. His numbers show you what he does with them; he has the power to hit homers by accident.