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Entries in New York Yankees (126)

Friday
Aug192011

Curtis Granderson Dominating the Fastball

New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson is crushing fastballs this season.  His .785 slugging percentage against them ranks first in the league, as does his 1.231 OPS.  Also, 11.5% of his at bats decided on a fastball have resulted in a home run.

Considering how he's done versus fastballs in the past two years, his current season has been quite an improvement.

Curtis Granderson vs. Fastballs
AVGSLGK%HR%wOBAISOHR/FB
2009.242.48616.5%5.4%.348.24513.0%
2010.285.46817.5%3.4%.358.1839.0%
2011.345.785*14.8%11.5%*.494*.440*27.7%
* - Leads the league

What has helped Granderson's overall numbers against fastballs has been his ability to lay off pitches out of the zone. In 2010, he chased 26.6% of fastballs out of the zone, and 23.5% in 2009. This season, he's chasing only 18.5%.

(Click image to enlarge)

You can see from the above graphic that Granderson is swinging at more fastballs that land in the zone, while chasing outside fastballs a bit less. His increased plate discipline has resulted in a lot more production. And while his 34 total HRs is second behind Jose Bautista's 35, his 23 HRs off fastballs leads all major leaguers.

Tuesday
Aug162011

Eduardo Nunez Lacking Line Drive Luck

When Alex Rodriguez went on the DL for knee surgery back in July, the Yankees had to make due with Eduardo Nunez.  Nunez has had fielding issues and his hitting has been just slightly above replacement level since filling in for A-Rod. 

But it appears he's also been the victim of some bad luck.  Nunez has hit 40 line drives this season and only 20 have fallen in for hits. Of all hit types, line drives translate to hits more than any other. Nunez's .500 line drive BAbip is third worst among all qualified hitters. 

Line Drive Pitch Location
(Click image to enlarge)

Granted, not all line drives are equal, and it's possible that Nunez has simply hit more soft, or looping line drives than normal, which would make it easier for opposing fielders to make a play.  But for the most part, line drives to the outfield, even weak ones, tend to fall in more often than not.  And of the 20 outs that Nunez has made on line drives this season, 14 of them have been recorded in the outfield.

Statistically speaking, it is quite rare for a hitter to maintain a below .500 BABIP on line drives over the course of an entire season (no batter since 2008 has hit below .500 on line drives in play).  More than likely, Nunez could see some correction in this area over the final two months of play.  However, with A-Rod likely to return to the lineup soon, Nunez's line drive troubles probably won't matter much for the Yankees down the stretch. 

Friday
Aug122011

David Price's Diminished Hook

David Price takes the mound tonight for the Rays in Yankee Stadium, bringing with him a 9-10 record with a 3.89 ERA.  One of the problems he's faced this year has been the lack of bite on his curveball.  He's yielded 17 hits off his curve including 5 doubles, one triple, and 2 HRs.

David Price Curveball
PAVGSLGBABIPContact%HR/FB
2010 Season520.262.359.32980.5%4.2%
2011 Season271.298.526.32681.6%20.0%

While a small sample size caveat applies with the above numbers, PitchFX data indicates he may not be getting quite the same break on his hook as he did last season:

David Price Curveball Movement
BrkXBrkZ
2010 Season4.4-6.5
2011 Season3.7-4.7

The most glaring change has been the reduction in downward movement on Price's curve. In 2010, the lefty was getting 6.5 inches of downward break resulting from the spin on the pitch (BrkZ); this season, he's getting nearly 2 inches less of movement on it. In addition, Price has also seen a drop in left to right movement on his curve.

Right-handed hitters have done most of the damage against his curveball this season, going 14 for 37 with a .591 slugging percentage. With 6 RHB in the New York Yankees' lineup tonight, it will be interesting to see just how much Price utilizes that curveball.