Midseason offensive walk and strikeout rates

Over at The Process Report, Chris St. John recently examined a few select offensive statistics for the Tampa Bay Rays. In particular St. John keyed in on strikeout rate, line drive rate, and pitches per plate appearance. He contrasted each player’s current 2011 numbers with their career numbers (and didn’t include the 2011 numbers in the career numbers). This is a worthy exercise as we’re at a point in the season where plenty of statistics find a large enough sample size to stabilize. I’ve followed his lead using two basic plate approach statistics: walk rate and strikeout rate. Like St. John, I’ve excluded the 2011 numbers from career totals. I’ve also calculated strikeout rate using plate appearances, rather than at-bats, as the denominator. Fangraphs uses at-bats, but plate appearances is a more helpful and logical choice. Data is current through Friday morning, and we’ll kick it off with walk rate.

Walk rate

The two big movers up are Granderson and Swisher. Swisher in particular is notable given his slow start. Despite a low BABIP and poor power numbers, particularly from the left side, Swisher is currently posting the best walk rate and on-base percentage of his entire career. As a result, he’s assembled offensive numbers well above league average, albeit in a depressed offensive environment league-wide. This is good to see. Swisher has had a rough go of it this year, a year which in essence represents a contract year, and even though he’s found himself on the short end of the stick luck-wise he’s still been able to maintain his patience at the plate. Plate discipline is both talent and skill, and Nick Swisher has both.

On the down side is Jorge Posada. It’s not terribly hard to read the between the lines on this one. As he gets older and his bat slows down it would seem logical that Posada would find more pitchers challenging him in the zone. His slow start, no matter how much it was founded on ill-fortune, likely did nothing to discourage this. Despite the dip, it’s worthy to note that his walk rate is still above league average.

Strikeout rate

Don’t be confused by the color scheme change. Green is still good, and red is still bad. Here we see Jeter, Teixeira and Swisher lopping off a decent amount of strikeouts against their historical averages. The cynic would argue that Jeter is striking out less because he’s grounding out to second on the first pitch more. Jeter is actually seeing more pitches per plate appearance this year than in years past, but perhaps more work in this area is required to draw conclusions. It’s also nice to see Swisher reduce his strikeout rate. Peripherals-wise he’s having a very respectable year. It’ll be easier to believe it as the results continue to follow.

On the other side, Martin and Cano are striking out more than they have in the past. Granderson is also striking out more, but no one’s complaining about his year whatsoever. Ultimately, these guys are only halfway through their season and have plenty of time to sort things out at the plate. There’s nothing extremely problematic here, aside from the burr in the saddle that is Robinson Cano‘s plate discipline, and in one respect (Nick Swisher) this data is tremendously encouraging. Will this data hold, or regress to career norms? Time will tell.

Colon pitches Yankees to another win in return

The only thing that can stop the Yankees right now is Sergio Mitre. Saturday’s win over the Mets was about as flawless as a win can be in this league … until Mitre issued the first walk of the day (by a Yankees’ pitcher) and ruined the shutout. The Yankees held on for the win anyway, their seventh in a row.

Hung it just enough.

Third Time Through The Order

For the first five innings, the Yankees couldn’t do anything about Dillon Gee. Other than a pair of Eduardo Nunez doubles, anyway. He had the Yankees off balance with his changeup, throwing it for both called strikes and swings and misses out of the zone. The Yankees had struck out seven times already, including all three outs in the fifth. Then it went south for the Mets’ right-hander.

Brett Gardner led off the sixth with a fly out, but Curtis Granderson adjusted to Gee’s changeup and yanked a 1-2 pitch into the Mets’ bullpen for the game’s first run. Wasn’t a horrible pitch, Grandy just sat back on it. Mark Teixeira singled on a first pitch fastball, Alex Rodriguez singled on a 0-2 fastball, then Robinson Cano tripled them both in on a 1-0 changeup. Nick Swisher plated the fourth run with a sacrifice fly to complete the floodgate opening. The third out of the inning came on a great diving stop by Justin Turner on what would have been Nunez’s seventh hit in his last seven plate appearances.

We’ve seen the Yankees do this to pitchers before, numerous times. Alexi Ogando and Juan Nicasio are two recent examples. If you’re going to come at them with the same pitching plan the third time through the order, they’re going to make you pay. Grandy and Cano sat back on the same changeup Gee had been throwing when ahead in the count all day and Tex jumped on a fastball. The kid got a little too predictable, and the Yankees went into attack mode.

Bitch please ... strike three.

Bartolomania Returns

Joe Girardi said he was looking for 80-85 pitches from Bartolo Colon today, and that’s exactly what he got. Twenty-two days after injuring his hamstring, Bartolo returned the mound with six shutout innings, striking out six and walking none on exactly 80 pitches. It wasn’t the nine innings he said he could pitch before the game, but it was more than enough.

Jose Reyes started the game with an infield single (after taking what should have been strike three), but Colon then retired the next 13 men in a row before allowing another infield single, this one to Jason Bay. In between, just four Mets hit the ball out of the infield. Bay’s single was followed by legit singles from Lucas Duda and Josh Thole to load the bases with one out in the fifth, the first real rally of the day.

Thanks to those NL rules, Gee was batter. Given the way he was pitching, there was no way Terry Collins could pinch-hit for him, but for whatever reason they didn’t try to pull off the squeeze play. Colon fell behind in the count 2-0, but recovered to get Gee to ground the ball weakly to third. A-Rod stepped on the base and threw over to first for the inning-ending double play. Love those NL rules. (nope)

Seriously though, it looked like Colon had never gotten hurt in the first place. He had his velocity and the batters were staring at that two-seamer all day long (five of the six strikeouts were looking). It was the same guy we saw in April and May. Welcome back, Bart.

He's earned the smirk.

Everyday Eduardo

Someone doesn’t want to give Derek Jeter his job back next week, eh? One day after going 4-for-4, Nunez went 3-for-4 with two doubles and his third homer of the year, a legit blast over the big wall in left-center. The one out he made was on that great catch by Turner. Eduardo now has one more homer and one fewer extra base hit than Jeter this season despite having 167 fewer plate appearances. Yeah, his defense can be (very) erratic, but overall the kid has done a fine job holding the position down. Well done, Eddie.


Cory Wade threw two fine innings of relief (two hits, no runs) only to be followed by Mitre’s awfulness. Maybe he was … uh … rusty after having not pitched in ten days. Yeah, that must be it. (nope)

The Yankees had a chance to score a run in the second inning after Colon bunted Nunez over to third with one out. Gardner grounded the ball to the right side, but Duda threw home and cut Nunez down trying to score. It was definitely a risky call by Collins since the middle of the order was due up; if that ground ball finds a hole, all of a sudden the Yankees are looking at a big inning.

Aside from the Nunez tack-on homer, all of the Yankees’ offense came in that sixth inning. Brett Gardner took a big fat 0-for-5 from the leadoff spot, but Granderson had the homer and a walk, Tex and Cano each had one hit, A-Rod had two, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin drew walks, and Nunez did his thing. In his last eight plate appearances, Cano has seen a total of 19 pitches, and four of those came as part of an intentional walk. So really it’s 15 pitches in his last seven plate appearances, or 2.14 per. Yikes, Robbie.

Here’s a fun fact courtesy of Kevin Davidoff: 36 of Granderson’s 148 career homeruns have come since he worked with Kevin Long last August. That’s 24.3% of his career homers in 13.1% of his career plate appearances. In-frickin-sane.

For the second straight day the Yankees helped set a new CitiField attendance record. They topped Friday’s mark by 22 fans, so 42,042 were in the house for this one.

The Yankees have officially won all six of their interleague series this year, going 14-4 against the so-called senior circuit with one more to play. They’re on a season-high seven game winning streak and are a season-high 19 games over .500. No team is within 30 runs of their +122 run differential, and they’ve outscored their opponents 32-5 over the last five games. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

WPA Graph & Box Score

This one had all the feel of a classic pitcher’s duel, but then the Yankees had to Yankee. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

The Yankees will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon when Freddy Garcia gives it a go against the knuckleballing R.A. Dickey. That’s a regular old 1pm ET game. RAB Tickets can get still get you there, even on short notice.

Jeter rehabs on a night of walk-offs

Forgot to include this yesterday, but Angelo Gumbs got some love in the In The Team Photo section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Andrew Brackman landed in the Not So Hot section, unsurprisingly. Dan Brewer has been placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, re-injuring it literally the day he came off the disabled list from the first time it gave him trouble. Also, both Slade Heathcott and Jairo Heredia have been placed on the disabled list, which sucks. I assume Slade just re-injured whatever had him on the DL the last few weeks.

Double-A Trenton (4-3 win over Altoona, walk-off style)
Derek Jeter, SS: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB – played five innings in the field … went first-to-third on a single fine, lined out to the first baseman, and made a nice defensive play on the second base side of second base
Jose Pirela, PR-SS: 0 for 1, 1 BB, 1 K
Corban Joseph, 2B: 1 for 5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – walk off fielder’s choice … recaps suggests he beat out a double play
Austin Romine, C, Cody Johnson, DH & Bradley Suttle, 3B: all 0 for 3 – Romine drove in a run and allowed a passed ball … Johnson walked and struck out thrice … Suttle walked
Melky Mesa, CF: 0 for 4, 3 K – ouch
Rob Lyerly, 1B: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B
Damon Sublett, LF: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K – seven for his last nine
Ray Kruml, RF: 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
Craig Heyer, RHP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 8-3 GB/FB – workmanlike … that’s a nice vague adjective, right?
Cory Arbiso, RHP: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4-0 GB/FB
Pat Venditte, SwP: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – clipped the win after blowing the lead in the eighth

[Read more…]

Postgame Notes: “Derek’s our shortstop”

Two topics dominated Joe Girardi‘s postgame press conference: Eduardo Nunez and Bartolo Colon. The Yankees’ temporary shortstop went 3-for-4 with three extra base hits this afternoon (the one out was a rocket that Justin Turner caught on a dive), leading to questions about his role with the team after Derek Jeter comes off the disabled list on Monday. “Derek’s our shortstop,” said Girardi, who rattled off cliche after cliche about how Jeter’s done it for them before and he makes the team better when he does the things he can do, so on and so forth.

It’s clear Jeter will get back his job on Monday, leaving Nunez and limbo. Girardi acknowledged that he’s been impressive when pressed into everyday duty (.339/.369/.525 with four walks and four strikeouts in 65 plate appearances since taking over), and they’re going to look for ways to get him more at-bats in the second half. The skipper mentioned giving Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez a little more rest than usual, be it days off or half games at designated hitter. Basically whatever they have to do to keep him going. The July and August weather figures to be hot and they have some extended stretches with no days, plus they have a few doubleheaders to get through. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Jeter comes back and continues to hit poorly (.260/.324/.324 before the injury), because Nunez has certainly given everyone something to think about. This long-time nonbeliever included.

  • “[That’s] as good as I’ve seen [Bartolo], and I’ve seen him really good.” That wasn’t Joe Girardi, that was Mets manager Terry Collins. Girardi called this afternoon’s performance “vintage Bart,” emphasizing the movement on his two-seamer that resulted in five called strike threes out of six total strikeouts. They’re going to see how he feels tomorrow, see if there’s soreness in the hamstring before deciding whether or not to give him an extra day off before his next start.
  • Still no word about what happens to the rotation when Phil Hughes is ready to be activated, though that ties into the previous bullet point. Girardi didn’t promise he’d have an answer tomorrow either.
  • Girardi credited Dillon Gee’s changeup for keeping the Yankees off balance for the first five innings, but that’s as obvious as it gets.
  • Since this was Game 81, the season is officially halfway over. The Yankees have won 50 games already and Girardi just repeated what he said before the game: he’s pleased with his team and likes the way they’ve rebounded after tough games and series.
  • As for Jose Reyes, his hamstring tightening up running out his first inning infield single, but he didn’t say anything until he came off the field between the top and bottom halves of the second inning. He’s going for an MRI tomorrow and they’ll know more about how serious the injury is then. Reyes has dealt with hamstring issues in the past, but apparently this is the other hamstring. Collins stressed that they took him out as a precaution, Reyes didn’t ask to be lifted.

The win guaranteed that the Yankees will go a perfect 6-0 in interleague series this year. They’re on one of those rolls when they look unstoppable, and right now they are. The offense is clicking, the starting pitching has been great, and the misfit relievers behind David Robertson and Mariano Rivera have been a pleasant surprise.

Open Thread: Yankee Stadium vs. CitiField

Make sure you click that sucker for a larger view, or just go here for the original graphic and more. Surprisingly, the Yankees have hit some homeruns in Yankee Stadium over the last two and a half years that would have not been homeruns in CitiField. Crazy, I know. I don’t want to rag on the article, but what did they expect by comparing a hitter’s park to a (rather extreme) pitcher’s park? Yankee Stadium is the ninth (ninth!) best homerun park this year and just the third best in the AL East. That part we don’t hear about. And you know what? I love all the homeruns.

Anyway, I’ll have some postgame notes in the not too distant future (hopefully), but use this sucker as your open thread. You can watch Derek Jeter‘s rehab game right here (for free!), plus the MLB Network is airing a game (teams depend on where you live). It’s Saturday night and the weather is quite pleasant, so I suggest you go out and paint the town red.

Yankees release Carlos Silva

Via Donnie Collins, the Yankees have released Carlos Silva. Joel Sherman says it’s because he was having shoulder trouble. The 32-year-old was brought aboard on a minor league contract this spring after being released by the Cubs to provide some pitching depth when the Yankees needed it the most. He struck out 28 and walked six in 36 minor league innings, getting a ground ball 50% of the time.

Game 81: Bart’s Back

(Photo Credit: Flickr user dbfoto™ via Creative Commons license)

It’s been 22 days since Bartolo Colon hurt hamstring, but he says he’s ready to pitch nine innings today. Of course the team won’t let him, they’re going to limit him to just 80-85 pitches after he threw 61 in a simulated game five days ago. Given the way he pitched before the injury, 80 pitches might mean seven innings, which would be pretty cool. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Bartolo Colon, SP

It’s a FOX broadcast,  so you’ll get to enjoy the dynamic announcing tandem of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver when the game begins shortly after 4pm ET. Enjoy.