Sample sizes can be good indications of things to come or fads that will die quickly. In the case of the Detroit Tigers and Niko Goodrum, there is no harm in trying an idea out.
If you are not familiar with Discord, it is an app you can have discussions with other people about any type of subject. I started one for any Detroit Tigers fans to participate in and an interesting idea was proposed.
It started with this shared tweet about one of the hottest hitters in the American League so far in 2021, Cedric Mullins.
Here are Niko Goodrum’s career splits on both sides of the plate:
As shown, he hits better for average on the right side (.318/.379/.475) but has more power on the left side (32 career home runs) and the total TOPS+ is higher on the right side.
But let’s look at his split in the way too early of the season sample size.
There are small signs of improvement hitting from the left-hand side. The batting average has gone up from his career average (currently it is sitting at .232) but the slugging is over.400 now and the tOPS is at 96, which is an improvement from his career numbers.
Granted, his April numbers were not great but there is improvement else in categories he has struggled mightily against and perhaps is the big reason why we are seeing better at-bats from Goodrum lately.
Niko Goodrum is more than a high fastball
So far in 2021, the work he spoke about in the off-season to get better at hitting is manifesting itself in subtle ways.
Against offspeed pitches, this season he batted .240 with an XBA of .233 and slugging around .280 with an improvement of exit velocity around 86.2. Last season, he struggled, only hitting .118/.122/.206 with an exit velocity of just around 80. 4. His best so far was .208 in 2018 so again, while the sample size is just into May, the gain is small enough to raise an eyebrow.
Worth noting he is in the 85% percentile of hard-hit contact according to Baseball Savant, which is also a huge improvement, considering last season, he was 54%.
These could be signs of Goodrum turning the corner on the left side. Regardless, it is small bits of progress to keep his steady glove out on the field.