Player Analysis: Mike Ford

Background

Mike Ford is a first baseman for the New York Yankees and is 27 years old. 2019 was his first year in the bigs as he finally got the call up with so many injuries to the Yankee’s lineup. Ford is very smart as he played college baseball at Princeton and was a two-way player. Ford began his start with the Yankees organization in 2013 when he signed a contract with them after going undrafted. Later he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners in 2017 with the 11th overall pick. He was later returned to the Yankees before even playing a game for the Mariners.

Aug 12, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Mike Ford (36) hits a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning of game two of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis

Ford’s best ability is getting on base. In his first season at the big league level, he carried a .350 OBP. That’s a huge jump from his .259 AVG. Ford showed some power as well as he put up a .559 SLG to lead him to a .909 OPS for a great first season.

As expected with his high OBP he has great plate discipline. In 2019 he chased 20.6% of pitches outside of the zone which is very solid. More specifically, Ford chased 23.6% of fastballs, 21.9% of breaking balls, and 13.3% of off-speed pitches.

If you compare those numbers to Ford’s swing and miss% numbers, Ford knows exactly the type of hitter that he is.

When comparing the two columns above, it’s clear that Ford is a good fastball hitter. In fact, he is so good at hitting that pitch that he will swing at a fastball even if it’s outside of the zone. It’s pretty impressive that he chases that many fastballs and is still able to make contact so often. However, these numbers do show a rather big hole in his swing. Ford can’t hit breaking balls and he can’t lay off of them either.

This is something that Ford is going to need to fix if he wants to continue to play at the big league level. With this large of a hole in his swing pitchers are going to expose him. It doesn’t matter how good your plate discipline is if you can’t hit the baseball. If he were to face a pitcher like Rich Hill it’s a safe bet to say he’s probably going to strikeout.

I will say though that when Ford does end up making contact with the ball he drives it. In 2019 he had a 45.6 hard hit%. If Ford had recorded enough at-bats to qualify for the Baseball Savant leaderboard (2.1 PA per game) he would be tied with Bryce Harper and Rougned Odor for 36th best in all of baseball.

Conclusion

Mike Ford is a special hitter who can hit for power and get on base often. However, he does lack the ability to hit the breaking ball. If pitchers catch on, they can expose him at the plate and turn him into a mediocre hitter. If Ford wants to continue to be productive and to take his ability to the next level he needs to improve at hitting breaking balls. At the very least, he needs to find a way to lay off of them. If not, Ford’s performance is going to regress and he may no longer be a relevant figure in the Yankee’s lineup.