Around the Plate: Yankees Must Improve on Low Ball Hitting


Last year the New York Yankees’ offense underperformed in regards to the lofty goals that fans had set for them. Overall the team hit .245 (20th in the MLB) with a .307 on-base percentage (23rd in the MLB) and finished with 633 runs (20th in the MLB). One specific area at the plate that needed to be improved was the batting average on pitches down in the zone. The team finished with a .229 average on pitches down in the zone (lower third of the zone and below), which ranked 17th in the MLB. Lets break down how well the players on the current have done against pitches down in the zone over the last 3 years. 

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Starting in the infield, 4 out of the 5 projected starters hit .225 or below on pitches down in the zone. Brian McCann (.219 average) and Mark Teixeira (.193) are not known for their batting averages, but for the amount of home runs they hit and for the amount of runs they drive in . A slight improvement is a must from these two power bats in order for the New York Yankees to produce more runs per game. Chase Headley hit a respectable .225 on these pitches, while Stephen Drew hit a woeful .179. The lone player to hit above that .225 average is Didi Gregorius (.245 average). This should translate well for the New York Yankees because of the success Gregorius has had against pitches in the lower zone, and hopefully some of the fellow infielders (especially Stephen Drew) can increase their averages on these pitches.

Shifting towards the outfield, Brett Gardner hit .229, Jacoby Ellsbury hit .257, and Carlos Beltran hit .230 against pitches that were down in the zone. Brett Gardner’s number was a bit of a surprise because he is a contact hitter, but .229 is not bad… just not good. Jacoby Ellsbury is also more of a contact hitter, and he did very well against pitches down in the zone and should continue the success next season. Carlos Beltran average dropped in his first season with the Yankees versus his prior two with the Cardinals, but he was battling an elbow injury that definitely affected his approach at the plate.

Looking at the bench, three guys stand out with above-average success when hitting against these types of pitches. Alex Rodriguez’s average (from 2012-2013) was an excellent .263, John Ryan Murphy’s average was .256 (112 plate appearances if a very small sample size) and newcomer Garrett Jones’ average was .244. Other than those two, the other notable bench players were very poor against these types of pitches.

With the acquisitions of Didi Gregorius and Garrett Jones, as well as a healthy Alex Rodriguez, instantly boost the teams success against pitches down the zone. These three players will be playing key roles for the New York Yankees this season, and if they can continue their success while the other players perform to their abilities, getting hits and scoring runs should be no problem for the Yankees.