Astros: Sliders are no longer laughing at Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa doesn’t get along well with the slider, but his Houston Astros legacy may be changing with his ability to handle that one pitch.
It’s no secret that the Houston Astros are struggling, but one man that isn’t so much struggling is Carlos Correa. Despite striking out on three straight pitches with the bases loaded and two outs against Oakland, he’s having a pretty good year notwithstanding. But if you saw the same thing in that at-bat as I did, you may still be skeptical.
He can’t seem to get his head around the slider. Every other pitch quivers when it nears the bat of Carlos Correa, but the slider laughs at him in the face as it eludes his bat time and time again.
Or was it just me thinking that? Anyway, in my plot to uncover what the slider has done to Correa, I came across a series of happy truths that convinced me that the success of Correa’s season, despite his brief relapse against Oakland, has been his ability to handle the slider.
Carols Correa is on fire this year, and it’s because he’s solved the mystery of the slider
It didn’t take much for opposing pitchers to figure out that Correa is not a fan of the slider. In every single year since his debut season, Carlos Correa has seen an uptick in the number of sliders he’s seen. It went from 18% of the pitches he faced in his rookie season to 28% now in 2020.
This year, it’s not even that he’s hitting them significantly better—as mentioned, I expected the numbers to vindicate that he’s actually still struggling. But rather, he’s doing a better job just making contact. Which is just step one. Step three is world domination, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Check it out: Carlos Correa’s contact against sliders outside the zone is significantly better this year. The best it’s ever been, in fact. He’s making contact with 70% of sliders outside of the zone. Now, you could say, “well, he shouldn’t be swinging at them anyway,” and I’d agree. But that percentage hasn’t been over 50% since his rookie year, so I’ll take it.
Also, to caveat that, he’s also just not swinging at as many outside of the zone. He’s only swinging at 26.3% of sliders outside of the zone, the second-lowest percentage of his career, and the lowest since 2017. To add to that, the percentage of sliders thrown for strikes that he’s swung at and missed is also at the lowest it’s been in his entire career—just 10.4%.
But I’m not done yet.
This all translates to less strikeouts against the slider than ever before, more walks and a better batting average against the slider since his rookie season,
Basically, across the board, he’s putting up the best numbers against the slider since his rookie year despite seeing more sliders than he ever has in his entire career—a career that has been plagued by his inability to identify and handle the slider.
So if you’re impressed that Correa is having such a great season for the Astros so far, now you know the nuts and bolts as to why. He’s doing all the things he normally does, only he isn’t being laughed at by sliders anymore.