Author: Matt Imbrogno Page 2 of 30

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 MLB.com 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.

The Yankees Need to Suspend Josh Donaldson

The Yankees need to suspend Josh Donaldson. There is no other way to say it. What he said to Tim Anderson in the course of Saturday’s game is unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. For that, he needs to lose playing time and game checks. I’m not sure exactly what the appropriate length of suspension or amount of fine should be, but there needs to be something.

Additionally, this needs to come from the Yankees. They cannot and should not let the league step in after the fact and do it for them. Randy, Bobby, and I were harsh on the Yankees on the podcast in the wake of their weak response to George Floyd’s murder and the surrounding protests and I think I can speak for them when I say I hope they’ve learned their lesson. However, given PR’s weak statement after yesterday’s game, along with Donaldson’s, it’s pretty clear that isn’t the case. Those two statements, justifications, whatever, demonstrate that, at least initially, neither the organization nor the player understand why what Donaldson said was unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist.

Regardless of what I think, what you think, Tim Anderson, the person at whom the comment was leveled, thought it was racist. That alone should be all the ‘proof’ one needs to know that what Donaldson said was, in fact, racist. A reminder to my fellow white people: We do not get to be the arbiters of what is or isn’t racist. We do not get to tell Black people why they are wrong about what they find racist. If you find yourself doing this, stop.

I worry that, in the coming days, Donaldson’s Black teammates and coaches will be asked about this incessantly and have to answer for their teammate’s racist remark, putting them in a virtual no-win situation. It’s his white teammates who need to be asked about this, who need to show they understand why what Donaldson was wrong, who need to show they will be the ones to hold him accountable for what he said. If they don’t understand, they (and Donaldson, of course) need to be made to understand. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

What Josh Donaldson said was, again, unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. There should be no room for it anywhere in baseball, let alone on the Yankees. I implore them to do the right thing and suspend and fine him and make sure he gets the education enough to understand why he was wrong. If the Yankees are unwilling or unable to do that, I hope the league steps in and swiftly corrects them.

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.

No Rain: On Josh Donaldson’s Lack of Power

Going in to Sunday’s (much-delayed) action against the Texas Rangers, Yankee third baseman Josh Donaldson is sporting a .214/.340/.357 line, good for a .321 wOBA/115 wRC+. On its face, there’s really nothing wrong with that, especially given the depressed offensive environment of 2022. But a closer look reveals a .143 ISO, by far the lowest of Donaldson’s career. The closest he’s come to a mark like that in a full season is .201 in 2014. So what gives?

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