I was looking at the Fangraphs pages for Nick Swisher, Andy Pettitte, and Xavier Nady, trying to find some sort of explanation for their anomalous 2008 seasons. I did find some interesting points, some of which seem to help explain their 2008 performances.
Xavier Nady- Nady’s LD% and GB% both took a jump last season, with his FB% dropping. He also increased his HR/FB numbers. This would seem to explain Xavier’s increased BABIP as being the product of something other than luck. In layman’s terms, what this means is that more balls hit by Nady were dropping in than in years past. Typically, if a hitter hits the same amount of line drives as he has in the past but more balls drop in, he has gained some production due to luck. However, hitting more line drives is a skill, and it suggests that Nady is just getting better as he hits his peak. People assume he will regress, but I dispute that notion, being that he has gotten better every single season since he entered the league. His wOBA has shown a steady climb for the last 6 seasons.
Nick Swisher- Conversely, Swisher saw a huge decrease in BABIP, but his LD% actually increased while his FB% stayed stable. This means that he was hitting the ball harder than ever, but found many more gloves than he has in the past. This suggests a bounce back season from him, making right field an interesting race that most statisticians believe Swisher will win.
Andy Pettitte- Tony actually addressed Pettitte’s poor luck in the blog’s inaugural post. One thing that he did not touch on was the pitch types that Andy threw last season as he lost confidence in his ailing shoulder. Pettitte threw half as many sliders and changeups as he ever had, and added 50% more cutters instead. The cutter has been Andy’s bread and butter for a long time, and I would guess that he lost confidence in his other breaking stuff as he began to get smacked around. Hopefully he finds a way to use his entire repertoire this season, as the Yankees badly need his inning out of the 4 spot in the rotation.
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