Honestly, this is a great question but perhaps a little beyond the purview of Fangraphs.
To me, it’s the kind of thing you could ask a medical expert in conjunction with a scout who could break down if Hamilton’s swing was different pre and post rib injury, and then consult with a medical expert to see if those differences could be caused by the rib injury and restrictions on certain types of movement.
I think there are some things that sabermetrics does a lot better than actual scouting. Unfortunately, this is not one of those things.
Hamilton whiffed on 11 of 44 off-speed pitches he saw from Rays pitchers. That’s not too far out of line from his 17.5% whiff rate on off-speed stuff during the season, especially when considering that the Tampa Bay pitching that he saw was well above league average.
The Rays did throw him somewhat more offspeed stuff than he was used to seeing in the regular season (59% vs 48%). I’d be inclined to give a little more meaning to that than to his whiffs, but I don’t know, neither one is a huge indicator of trouble yet to me.
As someone that intensely followed Hamilton and his swing all season, the real giveaway the ribs are still a problem were the swings&misses on Rays’ fastballs. Much of his power is generated by the immense torque he generates, which comes through the core muscles of the body to finish (which involves the ribs of course).
He does not look better than 80 to 85% to my eyes on the swing. Good breaking stuff has always fooled him, but fastballs are almost never a problem. If I am seeing this, you can bet the Yankees’ scouts notice the same things.
Comment by Phantom Stranger — October 14, 2010 @ 3:24 pm
All you have to do is look at 3 players for the Red Sox who played after breaking ribs
Ellsbury (293 OPS)
Hermida (292 OPS)
Lowell -didn’t miss any time and not sure when but he had a 2 week stretch after it was announced where he had a 400 OPS
In fact, going back to 1978 Carlton Fisk had a rib injury that may have been a fracture but they did not have MRI then. Many Red Sox fans blame this injury for his September slump, and playing through it may have contributed to the shoulder injury that sidelined him for much of 1979.
Hamilton probably should not play. Not only is it affecting his offense at the heart of the order, he can not throw properly (except routine throws back to the IF). The Yankees would be wise to challenge his arm often and early.