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« Adam Wainwright's Wicked Curve | Main | Another Magnificent Win for Verlander »
Friday
Oct192012

Yankees Hitters in October: An Autopsy

The New York Yankees' season ended last night when Prince Fielder snagged Jayson Nix's pop-up at the lip of the infield grass, completing the Tigers' four-game ALCS sweep. The sad part? Nix's one-hundred-foot floater was one of the Bombers' better ABs -- hey, at least he made contact!

New York led the American League in both on-base percentage and slugging during the regular season, but the club's offense no-showed in October. Here's a post-mortem on the Yankees' bats:

  • Collectively, the Yankees batted .187, got on base at a .254 clip and slugged .303. Ichiro was the only Bomber to tally double-digit hits (11), and Raul Ibanez was the only guy to go deep more than once (he hit three HR).
  • New York's trademark plate patience disappeared in October. The Yankees chased 32.4% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone during the playoffs, up from 27.3% during the regular season. Teams have been jumpier overall in the playoffs while facing higher quality pitching (the chase rate has increased from 28.4% during the regular season to 30.4%), but that's still a major jump in swinging at junk for the Yankees.
  • The club's biggest hackers were the hitless Eric Chavez (43.6% chase rate) and Robinson Cano (41.5%), who went 3-for-40. Chavez went after pitches thrown a foot outside, while Cano extended the zone down to his shoe tops:

Chavez's swing rate by pitch location

 

Cano's swing rate by pitch location

 

  • Curtis Granderson whiffed 43.5% of the time that he swung, far north of his already-high 29.7% miss rate during the regular season. He struck out 16 times, four more than any other postseason hitter.
  • The second-most whiff-tastic hitter? Alex Rodriguez. Despite being plastered to the bench for much of the ALDS, A-Rod struck out 12 times during the postseason. He whiffed 37.9% of the time that he swung (27.1% during the regular season).
  • Robinson Cano didn't record a single hit against a breaking or off-speed pitch, going 0-for-23 against curves, sliders and changeups. Pitchers buried Cano with soft stuff thrown low and away:

Location of breaking and off-speed pitches thrown to Cano during the playoffs

  • Russell Martin's hitting woes weren't due to poor plate discipline -- he just couldn't connect on pitches thrown over the plate. Martin saw a strike 55.6% of the time, second-highest among playoff hitters with at least 30 plate appearances (Jon Jay is first, at 56.2%).
  • Nick Swisher passed on some meatballs. He swung just half of the time that he got a pitch thrown middle-middle over the plate, down from about 76% of the time during the regular season. The average swing rate on middle-middle pitches is about 75% during the playoffs, and it was 72% during the regular season.

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