We all know that Junior got a late start to Spring Training due to his hand injury. And we know that Junior has been in and out of the lineup due to a couple minor illnesses. Furthermore, it seems that Junior has been going the other way more often early in the season. Is it possible that Griffey thought he wasn't 100 percent ready with the bat when the season began and he has made a concentrated effort to sacrifice power and simply put the ball in play until his swing comes around? And, if so, what is the net effect of that?
Is the 2007 version of Junior, so far, an example of what happens when you sacrifice power for more contact? Here are some numbers that lean that way.
Up until 2006 Junior had put the ball in play 82 percent of the time. In 2007 this has jumped up to nearly 92 percent. His walk rate has also increased dramatically. This would indicate that Griffey is being more selective and making an increased effort to put the ball in play more often.
Griffey 1989-2006 2007
BIP% 82.0% 91.9%
H/BIP 35.5% 31.6%
B/H 1.92 1.61
1B/BIP 20.1% 19.3%
HR/BIP 8.3% 3.5%
XBH/BIP 15.4% 12.3%
K% 15.7% 6.7%
BB% 11.3% 17.3%
OBP .377 .413
SLG .557 .468
OPS .934 .881
But what is the end result of this? His rate of singles has stayed about the same, but his rate of homers and extra base hits has dropped quite a bit. Unexpectedly, Junior is getting LESS hits per ball in play. As expected he is getting fewer bases per hit. His OBP has gone up; but his SLG has gone.
There does seem to be a change in Junior's hitting philosophy. That may be due to a new hitting coach, or due to Junior feeling his swing wasn't where it should be at the start of the season because of lack of preparation time. How would this affect Runs Created?
According to this thumbnail formula I saw on another thread:OPSxSLGxAB=RC.
89-06 .377 x .557 x 600 = 126
2007 .413 x .468 x 600 = 116
If that formula is roughly accurate then, at 600 AB, the 2007 version of Junior will create 10 runs less than the 89-06 version. This would seem to indicate that giving up power for contact might not be such a good idea. However, I do feel that when Junior's swing comes around he will start hitting for more power.