As a broadcaster, Paul O’ Neill’s greatest strength is his in-depth hitting analysis. Listening to him as he offers insight into each at-bat in the Yankees lineup is a great way to learn about the art of hitting. Here’s some of what he has had to say about several Yankees who’ve had a slow start at the plate in 2021, as well as other observations he has shared with YES Network audiences this season.
“Contact makes things happen.”
O’Neill, a contact hitter himself, should know. While he doesn’t devalue home runs, O’Neill notices when a Yankee is trying too hard and pressing at the plate. He made his comment regarding contact during yesterday’s game against the Nationals, when Gleyber Torres was up with two strikes and the bases loaded in the 11th inning. Before the next pitch, Torres choked up on his bat and executed a swinging bunt grounder to win the game.
During Gleyber’s struggles in April, O’Neill pointed out that Gleyber’s weight was falling away from the plate during his swing, and how that weight shift was making it very difficult for him to drive the ball away. In trying to pull the ball, O’Neill explained, Gleyber’s swing “had gotten longer and longer,” and his first move [before swinging] was opening up his stance and throwing off his mechanics. As O’Neill said, “That’s not how you get out of slumps.”
He has commended Torres’ hitting ability, too. The way Torres is able to hit the ball to all parts of the field continues to impress O’Neill. He has also praised Gleyber’s ability to make adjustments on counts with two strikes.
Clint needs to learn what pitches to expect
More than once this year, O’Neill has suggested that Clint Frazier’s reticence to swing stems from pitchers surprising him with a pitch he hadn’t expected to see. “He just saw a pitch on the inner half of the plate,” O’Neill told YES viewers on April 22. “The rest of the count will be soft stuff away and he should be anticipating it. As a hitter, you don’t mind seeing that.” He went on to explain that he believes Clint is pressing mentally, which, in Paulie’s experience, leads a hitter to “fly open on everything.” In other words, Clint had a good pitch to hit, yet he ended up striking out. According to O’Neill, when a guy in the lineup is struggling, it’s often because he’s missing good pitches.
Odd and ends
O’Neill seems to identify with DJ LeMahieu’s approach at the plate and DJ, it seems, is a hitter after Paulie’s heart. O’Neill often comments on how LeMahieu is so good at staying inside, which allows him to drive the ball to left-center field. He’s good at covering the entire plate, and for him, that makes more pitches hittable.
O’Neill is often criticized for being too goofy on air, but when it comes to breaking down hitting, he provides incredible insight and is able to break down at-bats in impeccable detail.