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« InDepth Spotlight: Kyle Drabek vs. Alex Rodriguez | Main | Scherzer's Slider »
Saturday
Apr302011

The Youkilis Paradox

Peter Abraham at the Boston Red Globe Extra Bases blog notes that Kevin Youkilis (BOS) is among the worst hitters in terms of batting average but one of the best in terms of OBP:

 

Youkilis is third in the American League in walks and eighth in strikeouts, the only player ranked in the top 10 in each category. As a result, he is 77th (out of 96 qualified players) in batting average at .213, but tied for 11th with an on-base percentage of .388.

 ...


If you can figure this out, please let me know.

During the previous three seasons, pitchers worked Kevin away, as his best chance for a hit was on the inside half of the plate:

Kevin Youkilis, in play avergae, 2008-2010.Kevin seemed to be aware that inside pitches gave him the best chance at collecting a hit, so that's where he swung:

Kevin Youkilis, swing rate, 2008-2010.Kevin was willing to cede the outside third of the plate to the pitcher and wait for a mistake inside.  In 2011, Kevin is just swinging less:

Kevin Youkilis, swing rate, 2011.He moved most of his swings to the inside third of the plate., and nothing is falling for him there:

Kevin Youkilis, in play average, 2011.He's getting his best results where he's not swinging much, and his worst results in what usually is a hot spot for him.  Note too, that by contracting the area in which he swings, he gives pitchers a much bitter area in which to record strikes.  His batting eye is still good enough that he draws a lot of walks, but by not swinging at pitches down the middle, Kevin gives the pitcher an advantage.

Unless Kevin lost bat speed, I suspect this is more bad luck than anything.   Youkilis still has the right approach to the game.  Wait for a pitch he can hit then smack it.  Sometimes they are hit right at a fielder, but over a whole season, they should fall for hits more often.  If this is still happening at the end of May, however, there might be a problem.

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