After being one of the breakout players of the first half, Matt Adams is now stuck in an almighty funk for the Washington Nationals and needs to break out.
So far in August, he’s hitting just .061 with only two hits, though both have gone for extra bases. Things have gotten so bad for him, that after routinely being placed in the heart of the order, on Sunday he had to bat seventh, and rightly so.
In the lead up to this month, his batting line of .287/.361/.560 seemed pretty sustainable with a .296 BABIP. So this prolonged slump seems puzzling to say the least and has resulted in reduced playing time due to the red-hot Ryan Zimmerman.
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Well, a large portion of this will be down to bad BABIP luck. His .049 figure in August is almost impossibly low and will easily correct itself in time. But there may be a bit more too it than that.
According to Baseball Savant, Adams’ average exit velocity in August is a meager 84.4mph. Whereas before this month, it measured up at 89.2 mph. This may help explain a BABIP drop if he’s hitting it softer. So why the sudden dip in how hard he’s hitting the ball?
It looks like Adams has been trying to swing at more pitches up in the zone. If you take a look at his FanGraphs swing percentage heatmap from this season up until the end of July, you’ll notice he was very keyed in on those pitches right down the middle, as well as somewhat low and away.
Then compare it to his FanGraphs heatmap for August, you can see he’s chasing high in the zone, as well as down and a little in. By chasing more pitcher-friendly pitches outside his wheelhouse, he’s generating more soft contact, or swinging and missing altogether as he struggles to catch up to the pitch.
His line drive percentage has dropped from 20.7 percent to just 12 percent, while his fly ball percentage has jumped from 45 percent to 56 percent. Even in this day and age, line drives are going to yield better results than fly balls.
Hopefully, with a bit more selectivity at the plate, he can get back to his old ways. Adams and Zimmerman make the ideal platoon pairing given their ability to rake against the opposite-handed pitchers.
The Washington Nationals really found a gem this off-season in Matt Adams, and even despite this funk, he’s been one of the bargains of the season in the entire league.