Martin Prado Makes a Brand New Start of it in Old New York

Start spreading the news. Martin Prado has truly woken up in the city that never sleeps. I wrote a few paragraphs about Prado last month, explaining why I’d rather have him than Dustin Pedroia rest-of-season. Now I feel compelled to study him a bit deeper, since he’s continued raking, despite battling a nagging hamstring issue that kept him out for a few games, but sure hasn’t slowed down his production.

Since being traded to the Yankees, Prado has snapped out of a year-and-a-half long slumber to put up some of the best numbers of his career. Since moving to the Bronx, Prado has been the No. 4 fantasy second baseman, hitting for both power and average. Just a quick look at his season stats, split between the two clubs, is jaw-dropping:

  • w/ARI (436 PA) – .270/.317/.370, 5 HR, .099 ISO
  • w/NYY (133 PA) – .310/.331/.543, 7 HR, .233 ISO

Say what you will about the whole “change of scenery” argument, but Prado’s been providing some pretty convincing evidence that a player sometimes just needs a fresh start. Yankee Stadium is a great place to hit, but then so is Chase Field in Arizona.

I would never be one to suggest that Prado wasn’t giving it 100 percent in Arizona, but I will posit that being traded from one of the worst teams in baseball to a then-contender played a part in his rejuvenation. If the company you were working for was a sinking ship, and you got a new job with a major player in your industry, wouldn’t you get an extra shot of adrenaline in your work life? Athletes are people too.

Now that I’ve gotten that unnecessarily lengthy defense of the “change of scenery” theory out of the way, let’s take a look at why Prado has been so much better in New York. One thing I noticed about Prado in Arizona this year was that he was being eaten alive by inside fastballs. As evidence, I present you with the following heat maps, showing Prado’s 2014 isolated power against fastballs with Arizona, then with New York:

Prado is now getting around on inside fastballs, hitting them with authority. Additionally, he’s been going up the ladder to hit for power. The heat map of Prado’s ISO with the Yankees hasn’t yet been updated to reflect last night’s homer, so we’ll turn to video evidence to help illustrate this point.

This bomb off Chris Tillman and this blast against Drew Smyly were both on letter-high fastballs. While both Tillman and Smyly clearly missed their intended locations on those pitches, the point remains that those aren’t pitches Prado was taking out of the yard earlier this season.

It’s not just fastballs either (although that is where the most stark difference is found). Of the 14 extra-base hits Prado’s produced against offspeed and breaking pitches in 2014, six have come as a Yankee. In other words — small sample alert! — 43% of his extra-base hits against breaking and offspeed pitches in 2014 have come in the 23% of the season he’s spent in New York.

The only word of caution I’ll give against Prado rest-of-season is that his plate discipline numbers have been pretty terrible since joining the Yanks, as he’s drawn just three walks to offset 23 punchouts. However, seeing as ‘rest-of-season’ only applies to the next two weeks, I’ll put my money on Prado riding his hot streak for the rest of the month, rather than his numbers seeing some sort of statistically hinted-at regression with just fourteen games left.

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Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.

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jj
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jj

didn’t he do the same thing last year in the 2nd half without getting traded?

Steve
Guest
Steve

You are correct. He is just a streaky hitter who is aging and now less good.