Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski has been something of a revelation for the San Francisco Giants this season.
Whenever a 28-year-old seemingly comes out of nowhere to perform at a high level, his production is often met with skepticism. Despite this, there are plenty of reasons to believe that San Francisco Giants rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski’s production can be sustainable.
The sweet-swinging left-hander has posted a .276/.326/.503 line in 219 plate appearances this season. That’s better production than the Giants front office could have ever dreamed possible when he was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitching prospect in Tyler Herb prior to the start of this season.
That is turning out to be a shrewd move by president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. And, a deeper dive into Yastrzemski’s numbers gives more reasons to be optimistic than skeptical.
The obvious red flag is his strikeout rate. In 219 plate appearances, he’s struck out 57 times, which comes to 26 percent strikeout rate. That’s a bit high, but given his .828 OPS (118 OPS+), the strikeouts have not hindered his production to this point.
That’s really all that sticks out as a negative. The rest of his below-the-surface numbers suggest that his production may be sustainable.
With a .338 BABIP, Yastrzemski’s breakout season is not the product of unusually good fortune. Rather, his BABIP is very much in line with the .344 BABIP he posted with Sacramento earlier this season, and a tad higher than the .320 BABIP he posted with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in 2018.
In terms of Statcast data, the 28-year-old has recorded a healthy 42.8 percent hard-hit rate. For context, that puts him in the same neighborhood as Pete Alonso (43.3 percent), Ozzie Albies (43.1 percent), and Ketel Marte (42.9 percent), which is a neighborhood to buy real estate in right now.
Lastly, his batted ball data does not carry any red flags. He currently has a 24.5 percent line drive rate, 35 percent ground ball rate, and a 40.6 percent fly ball rate. Typically, ground ball rates below 40 percent are a good sign, especially in today’s game where an increased focus is being placed on loft.
Once again, these rates are not too different from how he was showing at Sacramento earlier in the season when he posted a 21.8 percent line drive rate, 36.6 percent ground ball rate, and 41.6 percent flyball rate.
Despite facing more advanced major league pitching, Yastrzemki’s swing is still generating similar results from a batted-ball standpoint.
It would be a concern if he experienced an elevated ground ball rate once he reached the major leagues, because it would suggest the advanced pitching is exposing a hole in his swing and inducing weaker contact. However, that hasn’t been the case.
So, in searching for red flags in Yastrzemski’s production, there’s just not much to work with, which is ideal. Besides his high, but still tolerable, strikeout rate, the 28-year-old seems to be performing in a way that is sustainable.
It remains a mystery as to why the Baltimore Orioles never gave him a shot.
However, instead of focusing on that, let’s just appreciate the numbers that he’s putting up in a San Francisco Giants uniform.