SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT!



As of 4/27 completed games

Robinson Cano’s plate discipline

His walk rate is currently at 9.2%, which is over 1% higher than his career year in 2010. Amazingly though, he’s only striking out 5.7% of the time.

We don’t know if Cano has made a conscious decision to swing at less pitches, but he’s keeping the bat on his shoulders much, much less than in years past. He’s only swung at 45.5% of pitches overall, and only 25.2% of pitches outside the strike zone. For his career, he’s swung at 35.6% of pitches outside the zone.

If he can come close to maintain this type of batting eye, he’s going to have a monster year going forward. He’s been the victim of a .274 BABIP (.320 career average), and we expect that to change soon.

The Derek Jeter Revival

Clearly stung by NoMaas criticism, the Derek Jeter is hitting .400/.429/.612. The man has done some incredible things in his career, and this late 30′s back-from-the-dead revival is as amazing as any of them, when you consider he OPS’d .683 in the first half of 2011.

So far this season, Derek is swinging at 50% of the pitches thrown to him, which is one of the highest levels of his career. Outside the zone, inside the zone…it doesn’t matter, he’s swinging. He’s also making contact on 75% of the pitches he swings at outside the strike zone. It’s probably one of the reasons why he’s walked at only a 5.4% clip and is seeing only 3.57 pitches/PA – both would represent career-lows. On the flipside, he’s only striking out 9.8% of the time — also a career-low.

While Jeterites probably expect him to hit .400 for the season, we’ll be more realistic. While he’s never lost the ability to hit left-handed pitching, even in these recent decline years, he’s hitting an f’ing insane .607/.586/.893 against southpaws this season! Can even the staunchest Jeterite think that can continue?

Also, the groundballs are still coming at a high rate (61.8%), so that hasn’t changed. His BABIP is a sky-high .411 (career. 355). His HR/FB is a whopping 30.8%, which basically means for every 3 flyballs he hits, one leaves the park. That’s obviously completely unsustainable. With all of these numbers in mind, we’d like to say that we expect his numbers to regress significantly, but we’ll get bomb threats. So instead, we will say that Derek Jeter is the most remarkable human being to ever walk the face of the Earth and we’d let him impregnate our wives.

Russell Martin’s refusal to swing at any pitches

Russell Martin is trying to one-up Brett Gardner in watching pitches go by. He’s begun the year by swinging at a ridiculously-low 31% of pitches and only 13.5% of pitches thrown outside the strike zone (4th-lowest in MLB). He may only be hitting .188, but his .371 OBP is the product of his nearly 18% walk rate.

Ivan Nova’s surface stats

NoMaas has been one of the few outlets that bothered to mention that Nova’s underlying skills did not match his sparkling surface stats last year. But now this year’s surface stats (5.18 ERA) are worse than they should be.

Over his first four starts, Nova has struck out over a batter per inning (9.25 K/9), and is walking less than two batters per nine. His 5.0 K/BB is the main reason for his excellent 3.14 xFIP. He’s gotten hurt on HR/FB (14.8%) and absolutely demolished on BABIP (.421). Many thanks to The Binder for putting Ibanez in LF.

While Nova is striking out many more batters than usual, his groundball rate has plummeted to 42.5% and both his flyball and line drive rates have increased (33.8%and 23.8%, respectively). Pitching up in the strike zone may be contributing to his elevated strikeout rate, but it also means more home runs and line drives.

Corey Wade’s dominance

C-Wade quietly put up a premiere relief effort in his pinstripe debut season. He came out of nowhere to post a 2.04 ERA in 40 innings. Yet, you would have been on firm ground to be skeptical that this was a real breakout.

After exploratory shoulder surgery, the Rays picked up C-Wade for the 2011 season. He was had an excellent 36 IP at AAA-Durham (1.23 ERA), but the Rays couldn’t find room for him in their crowded major league bullpen and released him. That’s when the Yankees swooped in and turned this reclamation project into a valuable middle reliever.

Wade’s peripherals did not support his sterling 2011 ERA. His xFIP was 3.80, and his success was built on the shaky foundation of a high strand rate (91.2%) and low BABIP (.246) . But, he earned the trust of The Binder and has been outstanding so far this season. In 10.2 IP, he has a 13 K/BB.

What’s really interesting about Wade, is that he’s more than doubled his slider usage from last year (according to Pitch FX), and he’s throwing it 7 mph slower than he did last year (77.2 mph). This could be keeping hitters off balance.

Overall, he’s been great for a scrap-heap pickup.

*Again, these are all numbers based on very small sample sizes, so a few games from now they could all look different. But, there are just some things that we’ve noticed.*