Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Youkilis just keeps cruising

As we discovered with Jason Bay a little while ago, BAPIP (batting average on balls in play) tends to even out over time. Bay had a .360 BAPIP in April and a .261 BAPIP in May; since May 15, it's .219. When everything you hit finds a gap, it stands to reason that you'll hit a stretch in which everything you hit will find a glove.

One Red Sox player, though, hasn't seen his numbers even out.

Kevin Youkilis hit .395 in April on the strength of a .446 BAPIP. In May, though, he hit .327 on the strength of a .438 BAPIP. Even through the first week and a half of June, his BAPIP is .353 -- more than 50 points above the big-league average.

Youkilis still is due for a dry spell at some point. It's almost impossible to sustain a .400-plus BAPIP for an entire season. But there are reasons he's been able to sustain it this long -- and reasons to be optimistic that his numbers aren't about to fall off a cliff.

Those two reasons: Line-drive percentage and strike-zone discipline.

* As long as you hit the ball hard, good things are going to happen. You're not going to get on base every time, but good things are going to happen. Well, only five players in baseball have a higher line-drive percentage (25.4 percent) than Youkilis so far this season.

(The first name on the line-drive-percentage leaderboard? Nick Johnson.)

A year ago, Youkilis hit line drives on 21.9 percent of the pitches he saw. A jump like that can't just be attributed to luck.

* As long as you don't swing at lousy pitches, good things are going to happen. Well, only 16 players in baseball have swung at fewer pitches out of the strike zone than Youkilis (17.8 percent).

(Guess who's ahead of Youkilis on the plate-discipline leaderboard, too? Yeah. Him.)

Youkilis inevitable will hit a rough patch. Umpires will call a tight strike zone. Everything he hits will go straight at somebody. It happens to everyone -- just ask Bay.

But when you have the approach and the swing Youkilis has, the lows you endure probably aren't going to match the highs you enjoy.

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