Last week, I wondered if at least some of Brett Gardner‘s noted patience isn’t simply a matter of straight-pitch taking, and if that wasn’t getting him into some trouble as pitchers made an effort to throw him more first pitch strikes, anticipating that he wouldn’t swing. After another week and six more games, the answer to that question seems to be a pretty obvious yes.
After 36 plate appearances over 9 games, Gardner has seen a first pitch strike in 69.4% of his plate appearances, with a swing and a miss accounting for just 4.2% of strikes against him. Additionally, 53.6% of all pitches Gardner has seen this year have been in the strike zone, compared to 48.3% of the pitches he saw in 2010. At this point, we’re seeing a clear trend emerge; pitchers are pounding the zone against Gardner, and the Yankees lead off hitter simply isn’t adjusting to this change at this point.
The results have not been pretty thus far. Gardner is hitting just .167/.265/.267 through the Yankees first 9 games. To change that, Gardner is simply going to have to start putting more balls in play early in the count to force pitchers to be more honest when he comes to the plate. Continue reading Pitchers are taking advantage of Gardner’s passivity.