Josh Donaldson’s season has been full of ups and downs. At the highest levels, he was beating in a round of Grand Slam in a packed Yankee Stadium against his rival in the East Tampa Bay Rays. At the lowest levels, he would hit everywhere and make his rackets absolutely uncompetitive.
The 36-year-old third baseman has been excellent defensively alongside DJ LeMahieu, posting some of the best numbers in all of Major League Baseball, but on the board, he’s been pretty underwhelmed. Donaldson’s strike average is 26.4 percent, while he cuts .229/.315/.392 with a slightly higher average than the 104 wRC+ and 15 players in 122 games.
Compared to Donaldson’s previous seasons, production is low. 2021 him with Minnesota Twins He finished with a .247/ .352/ .475 triple slash and a WRC+ of 126, while deepening 26 times in 135 games. So, given what General Manager Brian Cashman paid to get his contract, it wasn’t good enough… until now.
Returning to the paternity roster on September 6th, Donaldson has not only become a new dad, but since his return on September 10th, he has looked like a completely different player. His numbers against fast balls looked a little better, and his WOBA against breakouts and out-of-speed pitches increased dramatically. However, the sample size is still small.
The good news is that there is an appreciable difference in Donaldson’s pitch-out-of-speed swing, and it’s been pretty obvious to anyone analyzing his rackets for differences.
Here’s a home run that Donaldson smashed against Milwaukee Brewers on the scroll bar. It stays in the zone and tracks the ball as it moves.
Here’s another slider left on by JD from JT Chargois that ended up in the seats:
Now here are two videos from earlier in the season where Donaldson swung across the area and inevitably dips his hips causing him to miss the ball.
And here’s another in a crazy curved ball from Adam Wainwright that made Donaldson drop his hips:
One of the biggest and most obvious problems with his swing was Donaldson’s hip sprain, and it looks like it was something he fixed. Even when he’s flailing at speed or breaking pitches and wanting to swing, there have been moments when he moves his hips down and misses any and all pitch-tracking opportunities.
Donaldson’s recent hit increase is another big boost for Yankees‘ a crime. The defense has been consistent, but it’s time to check his swing, especially as the post-season approaches. His most recent performance is 3v5v Boston Red Sox (Including a single to help the Yankees grab a postseason berthIt required less force and only ball contact, which is welcome at this point. Donaldson tracks the ball better, and his racket speed—which was already fast enough—appears to accelerate across the area on certain types of court.
Donaldson’s position is more balanced at this point in the season, which has contributed to his superior pitch tracking and ability to stay at the base. Whether he’s mashing up a home run or leading a run because of singles in the gaps, there’s something tangibly different about the way Donaldson hits baseball. The kind of production he’s had since coming off the paternity roster and gaining daddy power (.317/.383/.561 with 168 wRC+) is what was expected of him before the season started, and some improvements like balancing posture and not dropping the hips on non-quick pitches could possibly It makes a huge difference.