Josh Donaldson has been around long enough to know how to overcome early season offensive challenges for both himself and his team.
So while the Yankees third baseman hasn’t yet gotten the end results he and the team believe he’s capable of, he’s leaning on his experience and hopes his approach will help him grow. get back on track.
“I think what makes it easier is that guys understand what makes them successful,” Donaldson said on Friday ahead of the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Guardians at Stadium. “When you understand that, then there’s a reason why guys are successful. We don’t have a lot of guys here who have done it for just a year and you kind of hope that happens. We we mainly have a lot of guys who have had substantial years and you know that is going to change.
Donaldson, who went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in the Yankees’ win, has a .184/.286/.306 slash line in 14 games.
The 36-year-old, acquired from the Twins at the start of spring training, isn’t the only Yankee to get off to a slow start, but he knows where he needs to improve.
“I feel like I’m swinging and missing too much right now,” said Donaldson, who had 17 strikeouts and five walks in 52 plate appearances. “I feel like I’m a little too anxious probably about the Toronto streak and I started to expand the strike zone. I felt like on the road trip I was starting to do a better job, controlling the strike zone and having some success. But it is a process.
The metrics put forward support that claim – Donaldson’s odor rate of 33.7 ranked in MLB’s 15th percentile and his chase rate of 40.4 (well above his career average of 22.8% ) ranked in the fifth percentile, according to Baseball Savant.
But other underlying contact quality numbers also provided reason to believe Donaldson isn’t far behind. His average exit speed ranked in the 94th percentile and his hard hit percentage ranked in the 70th percentile.
“He’s probably one of the guys that worries me the least,” manager Aaron Boone said. “For me, for him, it’s a matter of health. If he’s healthy, Josh Donaldson will strike. So I want him to go, no doubt, but I’m also pretty confident he’ll get there.
Boone hoped Donaldson’s brace on Thursday in Detroit would serve as a springboard, though that was also the case after the veteran hit his first home run of the year last Saturday in Baltimore. Boone then said it seemed like something clicked for Donaldson during his at bats that night against the Orioles, but in three starts since then he’s gone hitless.
“For me, it’s just an everyday thing,” Donaldson said. “It’s being able to go out there and rehearse and have an approach and trust the approach.”
As for his health, Donaldson – who briefly nursed a sore right shoulder during spring training – said he’s been feeling fine so far. Boone was careful in his use of Donaldson, only starting him at third base two days in a row. With Giancarlo Stanton playing in the outfield a few games a week, Donaldson was also able to slot in as a DH “to try to preserve it a bit,” Boone said.
“I think in the beginning it’s probably going to be more like that,” Donaldson said. “I can’t tell you when that’s going to change, but we’ll kind of go through the first month and see how it goes from there.
“The goal is to help me feel good throughout the season. So so far, I feel good where I am.
New York Post