Category: Analysis Page 1 of 46

Re-June-venated: Gallo showing signs of life

2022 was set to be a big year for a big guy in the Bronx. Outfielder Joey Gallo, after a relatively disappointing Yankee debut last year, would be more comfortable and looking for a bounceback heading into his free agency. However, the season got off to a terrible start, with plenty of boos to go along with the bad performance. Luckily, Gallo has turned it on a bit more in June as the Yankees have steamrolled the competition so far this month.

In June, Gallo is hitting to a .360 wOBA, good for a 139 wRC+. This surge has brought his season wRC+ up to a respectable 94. In April (76 wRC+) and May (87 wRC+), this level of production seemed near impossible, but here it is, along with some tangible reasons for it.

One tangible reason is a lack of ground balls. After running up grounder tallies in the mid-30’s for each of the season’s first two months, Joey has dropped down to under 17% grounders in June. Considering the shifts Gallo sees, this is huge. It’s happened across the board, too:

June has seen Gallo drop his ground ball rates dramatically on breaking and offspeed pitches, as well as fall to literally zero against fastballs. Not surprisingly, this has come with a corresponding jump in launch angle, especially against said fastballs:

A rise in power has corresponded, naturally, with these competing batted ball results as his ISO has climbed every month: .115 to .161 to .326.

Speaking of pitch types, aside from crushing fastballs in June (.368 ISO), he’s made a big improvement against breaking balls. With four hits against them–including a double and a homer–he’s got more against breaking balls in June than he did in April (1) and May (0) combined. So what can he do to keep this up?

Aside from not driving the ball into the ground, one thing Gallo may want to do is swing less. His swing numbers have jumped way up this year, encapsulated by his overall percentage, which has jumped from 40.4 to 50.7. This includes jumps at or around ten points in, zone swing rate and chase rate as well as a near 20% jump (!) in first pitch swings. This is most definitely costing him runs.

Gallo’s takes are plus 10, which is good. But he’s given all that value back with -17 swing runs, especially around the shadow of the plate, ones he probably should be taking. Maybe if he gets back to swinging at those ones less, his production will ramp back up over the closing months of the season.

Joey Gallo seems like a good dude who’s easy to root for. He put himself in fan’s negative sights early on, but he’s starting to come out of it. As he does, I hope those who booed begin to cheer just as vociferously.

Jose Trevino’s Transformation

Embed from Getty Images

Entering this season, the Yankees essentially planned to punt offense at the catcher position. Kyle Higashioka (lifetime 63 wRC+ through 2021) and Ben Rortvedt (40 wRC+ in 98 MLB plate appearances) were set to share time behind the plate as defense-first backstops while the team showed Gary Sánchez the door. Then, a Rortvedt injury led to the Yankees making what seemed like an innocuous trade: the acquisition of Jose Trevino.

Trevino was cut from the same cloth as Higgy and Rortvedt: a plus defender without much to offer as a hitter. He posted a measly 66 wRC+ in 519 plate appearances for the Rangers pre-trade. Now that he’s donned pinstripes, he’s suddenly hitting like an All-Star: .300/.346/.490 (141 wRC+) in 107 trips to the plate. Where did this come from?

The easy answer, as always, is small sample size noise. It’s just 107 plate appearances, after all. And if you really slice and dice it, the period in which he’s been a great hitter is even shorter:

  • Through May 15: 51 PA, .170/.235/.191, .195 BABIP (27 WRC+)
  • After May 15: 56 PA, .415/.446/.755, .425 BABIP (245 wRC+)

Trevino inevitably will cool off. That’s baseball. But at the same time, there is some evidence that Trevino is an improved (or at the minimum, a different) hitter.

Sliding Fast: A Look into Gleyber’s Power Surge

Last night, Gleyber Torres hit his 12th home run of the year. This number is not remarkable in and of itself, but when we consider that Torres hit just nine home runs in 2021, it’s a damn good sign.

Earlier this past week, Shanti Sepu-Chepuru at took a look at Gleyber’s resurgence both in power and overall at the plate. She highlighted his more aggressive approach, his hitting to all fields, and his hard hitting. After, I took a look and found some other details that have helped Gleyber get his power groove back in 2022. His power has increased big time against both fastballs and sliders.

Trade Target: Andrew Benintendi

With Aaron Hicks collapsing at the plate and Joey Gallo not quite rounding into the form we thought he would, the Yankees may be in need of some outfield help for the rest of the season. The trade deadline is far away and the market hasn’t even begun to begin to form, so the idea of a trade is a remote one at best. One player casually linked to the Yankees is outfielder Andrew Benintendi, former first round pick of the Red Sox (2015, pick 7), currently of the Kansas City Royals, who’ll reach free agency at the end of this season.

On the surface, he seems like he’d be a good fit, simply because he’s a lefty hitter. Who doesn’t love a lefty hitter in Yankee stadium? Benintendi also fits a more contact-oriented mold that the Yankees have sought after recently. After some high strikeout rates at the end of his tour in Boston (22.8 % in 2019; 32.7 in 2020), he’s knocked his strikeout rate back into the teens with the Royals and it’s currently at a career low 13.7%. Additionally, aside from a low rate of 6.7% last year, Benintendi has posted good walk rates in his career.

His career .159 ISO is fine, though it’s down to .094 this year after .166 in 2021 and .026 (!) in 2020. Power might not be something the Yankees could count on from him, but with his contact and walk skills, they could live with a lack of power.

In the past, Benintendi hasn’t exactly stung the ball, as players the Yankees like tend to do. These last two years in KC have seen him rank in the 55th and 67th percentiles for exit velocity, which are career highs back-to-back. The same goes for his hard hit percentage at 66 and 59.

One note of concern this year is that Benintendi is really beating the ball into the ground, with a GB% of near 50%, a career high outside of a shortened and disastrous 2020. He’s had success with it, but I’m not sure how sustainable it is. He’s hitting. 348 on grounders this year, despite never hitting higher than .310 on them, and that was in his debut year of 2016. There might be a correction coming there, but the same could be said for his grounder rate overall. If his grounders fall in favor of his fly balls and line drives rising back to career norms, there could be a power restoration for him. Such a restoration would play very well in Yankee Stadium.

By outs above average, he’s never been a good outfielder, save for 2018 when he was in the 61st percentile. Aside from that, he’s been rated pretty terribly, though he’s up to the 39th percentile this year.

I’m not sure what it would take to get him and I’m terrible at trade proposals, so I’ll pass on that.

Is he perfect as a trade candidate? Probably not. But he’s not a bad one, either. The Yankees could do a lot worse and, given the state of the outfield at the moment, he’d be a good fit.

Jonny Off the Spot: On Loáisiga’s Struggles

In 2021, Jonathan Loáisiga was one of the best relievers in baseball. Over 70.2 innings, he sported a 2.17 ERA, a 2.58 FIP, 3.3 bWAR, and 2.4 fWAR. With an 18.7 K-BB% and a ground ball rate over 60, he was nothing short of dominant to opposing batters. 2022 has not picked up where 2021 left off.

Coming into Saturday’s game in Chicago, he sports a 5.93 ERA and a 5.99 FIP. He’s already surrendered as many homers–3–as he did in all of 2021. He’s already walked 8 batters, too, having only walked 16 in all of 2021.

Page 1 of 46

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén