Anyone who has followed the Yankees this year would tell you that the reason for their inconsistency is the regression from an offensive standpoint.
Multiple players have not performed to the level they have achieved in past years in 2021, and Gio Urshela is among them.

To start, even though Urshela has regressed, this does not mean he is a bad player.

He is just not performing to the heights he hit in 2019 and 2020.

Some of Urshela’s stats:

  • 2019: .889 OPS, 133 OPS+, 18.3 K%, 13.6 Launch Angle
  • 2020: .858 OPS, 138 OPS+, 14.4 K%, 12.3 Launch Angle
  • 2021: .711 OPS, 95 OPS+, 25.1 K%, 7.2 Launch Angle

Many people might point to the deadened ball as the reason that might play a part in it, but it is not that simple. As you can see pointed out above, two aspects of his 2021 season are much different from his previous two seasons.

One is the launch angle being way down; this should not be too surprising to many Yankees fans as they have watched the team hit into countless double plays this season. Urshela and his teammate DJ LeMahieu particularly have just hit too many ground balls in general, and it shows in their launch angles.

If you need any evidence as to why ground balls are bad, look no further than this:

Photo: AP/Terrance Williams

Moving on to Urshela’s strikeout rate, he has never been someone who had the greatest discipline at the plate. He chases at nearly the same rate he did in the last 162 game season in 2019 when he was only in the 4th percentile for best chase rate per Baseball Savant. So this should not be something that dooms his production on its own, but when you consider that he just is not hitting the ball as hard as he did in the past, it is a recipe for regression.

Urshela’s average exit velocity from 2019 was in the 75th percentile in 2019, 86th percentile in 2020, and has gone down to the 44th percentile in 2021. The 50th percentile is average, so going from well above that to just below it in 2021 is a telling story, especially when you take into account the launch angle as well.

Overall, Urshela is not hitting the ball hard and is hitting the ball on the ground more often than he used to. That is not a recipe for him putting up the offensive stats he put up in the past.
Hopefully, there is some adjustment he could make with the Yankees hitting coaches to fix that if not for the remainder of the season and going into 2022.

Featured Image: AP/Terrance Williams
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