I’ve been waiting for Isiah Kiner-Falefa to be featured in this article series. While I have my qualms with his swing mechanics, there is no denying he can battle his way through at-bats in big situations for the Yankees. In that way, he reminds me of the retro shortstop build. He isn’t a great hitter by any means, but situationally, he can battle out an at-bat against any pitcher, and ya know, he can do that bunt thing every now and then. The thing is, I haven’t chosen to write about him because his extended at-bats don’t always end in hits! This time around, it was different.
Ah that good ‘ole hip slide for a rollover groundball. No matter what adjustment IKF makes, this bad habit persists on. It makes me sad, but it is what it is. Not every player hits their offensive ceiling, and that’s okay. Anyways, 0-1 count.
Good take! I’m the type of nerd that loves a good take. The yes-yes-yes-no mentality is crucial for swing decisions. You need to give your brain as much time as possible to process pitches. In this case, IKF took advantage of that and was able to recognize the pitch as out of the zone at the very last moment. It let him hold up his swing just enough to get the check. 1-1 count.
Yeah, this is the result of sitting on the wrong pitch. Akin actually has a decent fastball but this location in an opposite platoon matchup is not ideal. However, IKF sometimes sits on specific pitches. I respect sticking to the approach in a 1-1 count. Better than taking a B-swing. We have ourselves a 1-2 count with runners in scoring position.
This is a wonderful pitch against a player with IKF’s bat path. His hip slide and barrel drag limit his ability to hit pitches up and away with authority, especially against a left-hander. But that’s what you have to do against pitches you can’t necessarily get a barrel on! This is one of IKF’s most valuable skills. He can just fight fight fight. Run back the 1-2 count.
He just tracks pitches so well. Even Akin was surprised IKF took this pitch under the zone. I mean, in a 1-2 count, it literally does not get better than this! It’s just under the zone and good enough to get a whiff or groundball. Too bad though! IKF took this and tracked the pitch the entire way. It’s a drill that I think more players could benefit from. You track a variety of pitches, guess a ball or strike, and follow the pitch into the catcher’s mitt. I wouldn’t be surprised if IKF partook in this. 2-2 count.
I would’ve done the same thing if I was Akin. If I have the feel to perfectly execute a pitch like that twice in a row, I’m challenging the hitter 10/10 times. You live with giving a hitter your best and seeing what happens. In this case, it didn’t work despite two perfectly executed changeups. IKF battled his way to this 3-2 count and from his point of view, he is in the driver’s seat. If you spit on a pitcher’s best offering twice in a row, you should feel confident that you’re going to win the 3-2 pitch.
Boom! Nice little knock into center field. This is everything you can ask for with runners in scoring position. When I see at-bats like this, my view of IKF always improves. At-bats like this are very important in the playoffs. I know he isn’t a great hitter overall, but at least he can consistently put the ball in play and give the team a chance to make something happen. Quality at-bats will always play.