Sorry kids, sometimes life gets in the way and I can’t jump in with my two cents right away on big happenings. So instead of 1,000 words of analysis on Zach Britton, here are some quick hitting thoughts and observations. Be sure to chime in with your two cents when you’re done reading.
Frankly, Britton’s numbers paint an unflattering picture. I’m hoping that Brian Cashman, or more importantly his brain trust, did their homework and are confident that there were (keyword; were) health and inactivity issues over the past two seasons to explain Britton’s numbers.
For three consecutive seasons:
- Britton’s BB per 9 innings and FIP have risen. In fact his BB per 9 is currently at a career high 5.7.
- Meanwhile, his K/BB rate, ground ball rate, batter chase rate and fastball effectiveness have all declined in each of the past three seasons as well. In fact his fastball effectiveness went from 24 runs better than league average in ’16 down to under 1 so far this season.
I can’t get into a player’s body and evaluate his health, but I can see if he’s been unlucky:
Britton’s Batting Average on Balls in Play against went from .230 in 2016, up to .336 in ’17 then back down to .263 this season. Looks like a lot of balls found holes last season, so maybe the tide is turning now.
Wait, slow down…his percentage of batted balls that are line drives has risen three consecutive seasons as well. (Cringes…)
Philosophical or strategical change? No. There hasn’t been any significant change to his pitch usage as the fastball to slider ratio is only a point or two different this season than over the previous two.
Add all this up and to me it sounds like a guy who’s lost command of his fastball. Walks are up, chase rate is down, balls are getting hit hard. To me that reeks of fewer balls on or near the black and more pitches either well out of the zone or right down the middle.
Let’s circle back around: Does the Yankee front office know something about Britton that suggests a lack of activity and poor health are the explanations for the decline, and that improved health combined with more consistent and important innings will be the cure?
I hope so. Because if it isn’t that, the Yankees just gave up three prospects for two to three months of declining performance. Maybe more coming on that front…
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