Didi Daily Discipline Discussion: May Update

Back on May 9th, I started out a series of posts that I would be revisiting on a monthly basis to keep track of the plate discipline of Didi Gregorius. As the calendar was turning from April to May, it looked as if Sir Didi had turned the corner and was developing the plate discipline he needed to become an elite SS on the offensive side of the equation. Did I jinx him??

 

In March/April, Didi put up a .327/.421/.735 triple slash good for a 1.156 OPS and .464 wOBA. All Yankees fans know that May was not as kind to Didi as April and March were. Gregorius finished the Month of May with a .151/.186/.215 triple slash- good for a .401 OPS and .174 wOBA. For comparison of Didi’s monthly numbers to the rest of the league in 2018:

  • Current league average OPS: .724
  • Current league average wOBA: .314

Clearly, there were some serious changes in Gregorius’ game from the first month+ of the season compared to his last. Let’s take a look at some key discipline components that fueled the May that we all hope is a thing of the past.

March/April BB%: 14.9%

May BB%: 4.1%

This is probably the most glaring statistical difference from the first month+ of the season to May. Didi more than doubled his career BB% in March/April and followed that up with a very pedestrian 4.1% in May.  

March/April OBP: .421

May OBP: .186

Obviously, with Didi’s BB% falling that hard you would expect a large decline in OBP from one month to the next. Well, couple the 4.1% BB% with a .151 AVG and you get a drop down to .186 OBP in the month of May. Not what you want!

March/April K%: 13.2%

May K%: 15.5%

Corresponding with a drop in a BB% from April to May, we also saw an uptick in strikeouts for Gregorius. Jumping up 2.3% in K% from one month to the next is nothing absurd, and to be honest, a 15.5% K% is not that bad at the end of the day. However, his career K% in the pros is 14.6% so he was definitely making less contact and showing less plate discipline in May.

O-Swing% through May 9th: 33.8%

O-Swing% through June 4th: 37.1%

What I remember most about March/April was Didi spitting on pitches out of the zone at a better clip than ever before. His 33.8% chase rate through May 9th was his best rate in the past 3 seasons. Less than one month later, Didi’s chase rate has jumped back up to 37.1% as he has lost that great eye he showed early in the season and is starting to swing at balls out of the zone again. Hopefully, he can work with the staff to get back to laying off balls and start hunting pitches in the heart of the strikezone again like we saw early on.

Z-Contact% through May 9th: 92.1%

Z-Contact% through June 4th: 90.5%

Didi’s in the zone contact was at a career high through May 9th at 92.1%. In other words, when Didi swung at a pitch in the strikezone he only missed 7.9% of the time through May 9th. In the 3 and a half weeks since then, his Z-Contact% has dropped 1.6%. This may not seem like a big deal considering how low that number is, however, that is the difference between a swing and miss or two per game which is significant.  

Light at end of the tunnel:

Let’s not get TOO hung up on all the bads that came with Didi’s underwhelming month of May at the dish and try to highlight some things that point to a hope for a rebound.

March/April BABIP: .289

May BABIP: .169

March/April Hard%: 37.2%

May Hard%: 37.2%

Didi’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in May was over .100 points lower than in March/April while his hard-hit rate (Hard%) remained the exact same. This alone tells me that while he was clearly doing some things differently over the last month, he was still hitting the ball hard and may have been getting unlucky. What caused the .120 decrease in BABIP you ask?

March/April LD%: 25.0%

May LD%: 10.4%

March/April GB%: 26.2%

May GB%: 44.2%

March/April Pull%: 47.7%

May Pull%: 39.7%

While Didi did continue to hit the ball hard in May, he traded line drives (LD%) for ground balls (GB%). When you are a lefty hitter that is notorious for pulling the ball, hitting ground balls into the shift is never a recipe for success. Pitchers became more wary of Didi’s tendency to crush inside pitching and started pitching him away more in May. Pulling the ball in the air with authority is Didi’s ideal scenario, and hitting the ball on the ground up the middle or to the pull side against the shift is what will cause him trouble.

If Didi can get back to hitting fewer ground balls and back to hitting more line drives and fly balls like he did in March/April I am fully confident that he can turn things around and be more reminiscent of the Sir Didi we saw for the first month+ of the season!

 

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***Stats from Fangraphs.com