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Entries in New York Yankees (126)


Jeter's Line Drive Luck

David Pinto had a post up earlier regarding Jeter's new approach to hitting.  Following up on that, check out his batted ball splits from the two previous seasons.

Jeter 200920.3%.3682.51.243.817.228311
Jeter 201016.1%.3073.60.242.667.232303

That .667 batting average on line drives ranked in the bottom 5% in all of baseball last season. Was Jeter just unlucky with his liners? There's always the issue of subjectivity when it comes to line drives. One stat reporter may see a hit as a line drive with elevation while another might see it as simply a fly ball. So you're going to get some variation there, and as a result Jeter's LD batting average might get hurt (or even helped).

But there's also the possibility that his line drives were simply not hit as hard last season. Liners are going to drop as hits more often than any other batted ball because they have less air time than fly balls and are thus far more difficult for fielders to make a play on. If Jeter's line drives did not have as much velocity as previous seasons (perhaps with less elevation), it could definitely have played a part in lowering that average. It will be interesting to see how his new swing (with the elimination of that big leg kick) affects his batted ball types this season.


Mark Teixeira Up in the Zone

Mark Teixeira's 2010 was arguably his worst offensive season since his rookie year in Texas. He had a career low BABIP (.268), however his 19% line drive rate was essentially unchanged from his previous 4 year average. He did have a higher IF/FB% last year compared to his average (17% to 12%), which does include line drives. Maybe Teixeira was lining out to infielders more often last year, I really don't recall.

I took a closer look at Teixeira's line drives and found that he was hitting fewer liners on balls up in the zone. Compare his line drive rate graphics for the last 3 years:

Mark Teixeira (click image to enlarge)
Teixeira's LD%

Mark Teixeira - Upper Zone
Contact %LD%BABIP

Teixeira's overall BABIPs over that same time period: .346, .302, .268. If his LD% hadn't take a 5% dive, I'd be more willing to believe he was just having bad luck with high pitches. Pitches hit up in the zone tend to end up in the air more often than on the ground. There's a chance that Teixeira was hitting more infield flies on pitches up last season (I don't have any data on zone specific IF/FB% at the moment).

The shift is often deployed against Teixeira which might skew his LD%. Plays that are technically "ground outs" when the ball hits the outfield grass first on a line and then gets fielded by an infielder on a shift would otherwise get labeled as a line drive if there was no shift and the ball got through for a hit. We're working with a small sample size when isolating one portion of the zone, so it's possible just a few of those kinds of outs could have brought down his LD%. I guess an interesting study would be to see if players that see shifts have lower line drive rates in addition to having fewer ground ball hits.

As it stands, it doesn't look like Teixeira was unlucky on high pitches last year; he didn't have his best season at the plate and hitting fewer liners off pitches up in the zone was probably one reason why.


Brett Gardner's Discipline

Last year, Brett Gardner ranked in the top 91 9% of all players in OBP, and the top 93% 7% in BB%. I thought it was worth taking a quick look at his plate discipline since 2008.

Brett Gardner

Gardner's .310 OBP between 2008-09 (426 PA) jumped to .375 last year. From the looks of the graphic above, he seems to be swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone.