it’s undeniable the Yankees need production with Carlos Beltran out and Mark Teixeira‘s wrist ailing. Instead of turning your undivided attention towards Kendrys Morales and the rest of the Free Agent pool, though. it may behoove you to look inward for some hope.
Over the past month or so, Joe Girardi has dropped in a few hints about guys he thinks are hitting the ball well, but just not in the right spots. Those guys? Brian McCann and Brian Roberts.
The batted ball numbers back that up. Entering Tuesday, 22.4% of the balls Brian McCann has put in play have been line drives – the highest rate of his career if you take out 2005, his first year in the bigs, where he played just 59 games. Brian Roberts is enjoying a similar year, with a 25.5% Line Drive Rate, which is his highest since 2005 and the third-best of his career.
Obviously we’re not even halfway through the year yet; both of them have played just over 50 games. That said, with that type of contact, you’d think they’d be hitting better than .233 and .244 respectively. They’re getting unlucky. McCann’s BABIP is more than 50 points under his career average, and Roberts’ more than 30.
I asked Roberts about this occurrence a few weeks back, after a two-triple performance at Citi Field. He said “I’ve hit the ball very well some months in my career, and hit .200,” and conversely “hit the ball not as well, and hit .320.” With Roberts, there isn’t a ton to be concerned about though, as he’s improved his average into the .240 range – which would be right what the Yankees expected when they got him. That said, he’s still poised to have a good month with the way he’s seeing the ball at the plate, and he might be able to pick up a few more hits with runners in scoring position (He’s just .194 on the year).
With McCann, there’s another variable at play: the shift. More and more now, he’s being defended with three fielders on the right side of the diamond, and it’s certainly cost him on a few occasions this year.
That said, however, 56% of his line drives are going to left & center field, which isn’t anything new:
It’s pretty evenly distributed, considering his reputation as a pull hitter. Ground balls into the shift have killed him, not line drives. The positioning of the second baseman in shallow Right Field doesn’t take away anything new; many times the grounders hit to him would have been outs regardless of a defensive shift. It would ideally take away McCann’s line drive singles to right, but as you can see there aren’t as many instances of that as you’d think.
With that said, there’s optimism this impressive LD% can lead to some more hits for the McCann and Roberts. Lord knows they need them.