Monday Morning Food For Thought: Didi Gregorius Vs. Left-Handed Pitching

Gregorius Spray Chart vs LHP Career That, ladies and gentlemen, is Didi Gregorius' spray chart against left-handed pitching for his MLB career to date.  You'll recall that Gregorius, a lefty hitter, has been mostly underwhelming with the bat in his 724 career plate appearances.  A big reason for that has been his performance against lefties, which has been very, very bad (.184/.257/.233, 0 HR, 25.0% K rate in 180 PA).

That spray chart shows all the balls he put in play in those 180 PA, and to be honest, it's not as bad looking as I thought it would be.  There's not an overwhelming over-distribution of grounders to one side of the infield, there's balls being hit to all parts of the outfield at a relatively even rate, and there's balls being hit for hits to all parts of the outfield.  The BIP distribution is very indicative of the type of hitter Gregorius has been in his short MLB career: high contact, not much power, can hit to all fields.  If you didn't already know how bad his career numbers against LHP are, you might not anticipate them being that poor based on this chart.

The major problem with Gregorius against southpaws isn't so much where he's hitting the ball but when.  His 25.0% K rate against lefties is much higher than against righties (14.2%), and a look at the full pitch type breakdown against LHP shows that Gregorius' whiff rate is about 15% or higher against most of the pitches he's seen.  Fastballs up in the zone and sliders down and away seem to be Gregorius' weaknesses, which puts him in the same company as plenty of other left-handed hitters.

It's not all bad with Gregorius against lefties though.  His 7.2% BB rate isn't too far off from his rate against righties, and he's actually posted a better line drive rate against lefty pitchers 21.6%) than against righties (19.8%).  Based on those numbers and the BIP chart, there is reason to be optimistic about Gregorius' chances of improving his batting line against lefties.  It seems like the contact skills are still there when he actually puts the ball in play, and his ability to put it in play to all fields can be used to his advantage.  Maybe some tightening up of his swing mechanics to speed him up a bit will help cut down on the whiffs and improve the quality of contact.  Have to think that will be one of the first things Didi works on with the new hitting coach this spring, whenever the Yankees decide to hire one.