Miggy not seeing as many fastballs in 2016

Miggy not seeing as many fastballs in 2016

KANSAS CITY -- The look of frustration from Miguel Cabrera on his walk back from the batter's box to the Tigers dugout said a lot about his state of mind Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The fact that he made that walk four times said even more.

It was a changeup from the usual sight of Cabrera here, normally haunting Royals pitchers with damage galore. It was the changeup that left him flummoxed, not just Tuesday but for most of the early going this season.

Though Cabrera started the Tigers' scoring with a two-run double Tuesday, he struck out in his other four at-bats, marking the fourth four-strikeout game of his 14-year Major League career.

All four strikeouts were swings and misses. None were on a fastball. Cabrera took unsuccessful cuts at Yordano Ventura changeups in the first and third innings, a Danny Duffy breaking ball in the seventh, then a Kelvin Herrera breaking ball in the eighth. Herrera, the man with the 100-mph fastball, threw three breaking pitches to Cabrera.

The one ball Cabrera put in play was his double, poking a Ventura fastball into the right-field corner.

The numbers so far are a small sample size, so they don't show much more than a mid-April snapshot, more how he got here than where he's headed. Still, out of 25 changeups seen through Tuesday, Cabrera has swung at 12 and missed on half, according to data from STATS. All but one of those misses came outside the strike zone. He swung at 20 changeups outside the strike zone last year, missing on six.

"When you're swinging at balls, that means you made a good pitch," Cabrera said Tuesday night.

Cabrera's swing-and-miss rate on fastballs is slightly up, from 15 percent in 2013 to 17 percent last year to 23.6 percent now, again according to STATS. Much of the difference comes on fastballs outside the strike zone. However, whereas Cabrera has seen fastballs on nearly 60 percent of pitches for his career according to Fangraphs, less than half of his pitches so far have been fastballs.

Cabrera had the fourth-best OPS off fastballs in the American League last year, a .985 clip that trailed Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout and Chris Davis, according to the Bill James Handbook.

Cabrera has had starts like this before. His .735 OPS entering Wednesday is nearly identical to his April OPS in 2014. He hit .380 with a 1.126 OPS the following month.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.