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?
First, per Statcast, his slugging on every pitch type is down from last year’s marks, when he sported an overall .228 SLG:
His expected slugging doesn’t hold too many promises, either. The numbers for breaking and offspeed are down from 2021, too, though his number on fastballs is way up: .642. Maybe some proverbial progression to the mean is coming there. But given Donaldson’s age and given that his ISO has been trending downward from 2019 to now (.262; .243; .228; .143), I might not hold my breath on a power rebound.
Those are the results, so let’s take a peek at the process and see what’s behind the drop in power.
The first thing that pops out is an increase in weak contact percentage. It’s still relatively low at 3.4%, but he’s been under 2% every year since 2019. Not surprisingly, his barrel/PA is down over 5 percent since last year and, while not a career low (2020, 3.9), it’s still almost 3% under his career average.
It’s worth nothing that his hard hit percentage (76), his xSLG (57), and his barrel percentage (68) all have pretty respectable ranks compared to the league. However, they’re all way down from the low to mid 90’s percentile ranks that have marked Josh Donaldson’s hard-hitting career.
Additionally, there are negative trends in Donaldson’s chase and chase contact rates. The latter strikes me because if you’re making contact with bad pitches, the contact tends to be of a lower quality, hence, less power.
So far, Donaldson has managed to be productive relative to the league despite not hitting for the power that he normally does. The Yankees have also managed to have a good offense despite not getting what they thought they would out of him. Still, as the season moves forward, it would be nice to have Donaldson bring a little rain (just not anymore this weekend, huh?).