Travis Hafner– LD: 16.2% (.828), GB: 30.9% (.190), FB: 52.9% (.333)
Hafner was never a line drive hitter, and his 52.9% fly ball rate has grown to be the dominant batted ball type. The lefty is obviously aiming for the right field short porch, but in 2013 his FB% has thus far increased by around 14%. These hits are falling into play slightly more than his career .307 average, and add to that the line drives falling in at an insane .828 average. While the power is for real, we can expect his .260 batting average to drop in the near future.
Brett Gardner– LD: 20.9% (.682), GB: 42.7% (.213), FB: 42.7% (.250)
Gardner’s .319 BABIP would lead you to believe that he belongs in the “just right” section, but he can actually improve upon this mark considerably. His 42.7% ground ball rate is 8 percent lower than his career rates, and his .213 batting average on these hits is well below his career .277 rate. Perhaps Gardner’s speed has diminished slightly, but it shouldn’t have this big of an effect. Expect his hits from fly balls to decrease while he sees many more hits on ground balls.
Ichiro Suzuki– LD: 15.0% (.647), GB: 56.6% (.234), FB: 28.3% (.161)
The right fielder is coming off a career high line drive year, where he posted a 24.7% line drive rate. In 2013, that batted ball type has fallen to just 15.0%, which is still 5.5% lower than his career norm. Not only should he be hitting more line drives, but he should also be beating out more ground balls. His current .259 BABIP is .040 points below last year’s, and nearly .090 points below his career average. Even if his age is catching up to him, this type of drop off is too extreme, so expect his batting average to level off around .270 to .280 in the coming months.
Robinson Cano– LD: 18.0% (.680), GB: 50.4% (.229), FB 31.7% (.364)
Cano is having a great season so far, and we can expect it to continue. Although he should be seeing a few more hits on line drives, he’s gotten a tad bit lucky on fly balls. When it all evens out, he’ll probably see a slight reduction in power with an increase in batting average,
Vernon Wells– LD: 18.5% (.696), GB: 39.5% (.306), FB: 41.9% (.235)
Considering what he’s done over the last two seasons, you’d think Wells would fall in the lucky category, but his peripherals look fine. All of his batted ball rates are within less than 2% of his career rates, and the batting averages aren’t far from unexpected either. Although the batting average on ground balls is high, the number on line drives is low, and it looks like he can maintain his current .301/.357/.538 slash. He’s someone you need to keep an eye on because of his performance with the Angels, but Wells has not yet been aided by luck.
Lyle Overbay– LD: 20.4% (.667), GB: 40.7% (.182), FB: 38.9% (.286)
Here’s another player that spent two consecutive seasons with below average offense. The only thing out of the ordinary for Overbay in 2013 has been a 5% decrease in ground balls, and a 5% increase in fly balls. This increase is small enough to think that it’s deliberate, as he’s now facing the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium. Compared to career batting averages, Overbay is right on target with all of them, except for a .060 drop in line drive rate. At 36 years old, this could be age related regression, and I don’t think there’s anyway you could call his current .264/.299/.496 slash unlucky.
Chris Stewart– LD: 18.2% (.600), GB: 40.0% (.227), FB: 41.8% (.190)
Stewart hasn’t been the greatest offensive player, or even an average offensive player, but he’s provided the team with a decent bat and above average defense. It’s completely possible that we see his batting average on line drives and fly balls increase, but I wouldn’t count on it from a guy who has a career .223/.282/.317 slash.
Jayson Nix– LD: 23.9% (.706), GB: 40.8% (.345), FB: 35.2% (.125)
Nix’s line drive rates and batting average on ground balls are high, but he’s also not seeing as much power as he should. Despite owning a .147 career ISO, his current .058 ISO in 2013 is far below what anyone expected. As Nix has seen more playing time, he seems to be hitting the ball better, and in the month of May he now owns a 111 wRC+. Despite that, I would expect his .243 batting average to fall while his .301 slugging percentage increases. Overall, it won’t be much of a difference in his current production.