Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inside Ellsbury's Hitting Streak

Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-4 last night, the 1 hit being the eventual game-winning one, and in the process extended his current hitting streak to 14 games.  To my knowledge, that's the longest hitting streak of the season for the Yankees and it's been a very reassuring stretch for Ellsbury after a lackluster month of May.  He's racked up 21 hits in 56 at-bats over the last 14 games (.375 BA), boosting his slash line back up to .286/.351/.406 from the season-low level of .258/.330/.379 before the start of the streak.  After looking like he had something wrong with his swing for all of last month, Ellsbury now looks like he's back to where he was at the start of the year and back to being the player the Yanks hoped they were getting.

There's Ellsbury's BIP plot over the course of the streak, and you'll notice that it's much more balanced than what we saw in May.  He's hitting the ball to all fields, getting hits to all fields, and has a much more balanced distribution of ground balls, flyballs, and line drives.  Ellsbury has a 41.9% LD rate so far this month, with grounders coming in slightly higher than flyballs behind that.  His .433 BABIP is unsustainable but it's not lucky.  Ellsbury has been squaring up the ball and hitting it with authority all over the park for the last 2+ weeks and the results he's had in that time span have been well-earned.

They've also been wisely-earned.  While he wasn't expanding his strike zone in May, Ellsbury was striking out more than usual, at an almost 20% clip.  So far in June he's back down to his average of 15% and over the 14-game hitting streak he's struck out 8 times while drawing 5 walks.

It hasn't led to any kind of sustained team-wide resurgence, but Ellsbury getting back on track at the top of the order is a step in the right direction.  He's fixed whatever his problems in May were, he's smoking the ball all over the yard, and helping to try and pull his team out of their offensive malaise.  Sooner or later somebody has to catch on and join his hot streak.

(Spray chart courtesy of TL)

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