So I'm listening to the game last night, and after Ichiro beats out a chopped ball to shortstop for an infield single, Tom Grieve is marveling at how many infield hits he gets. Grieve comments that, although Ichiro has a higher average than Michael Young, Young is a better hitter than Ichiro in the sense of hitting the ball square on the good part of the bat.
I'm sitting here at home, laughing to myself about that, thinking about what a homer Grieve is...and then it occurs to me that, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can actually figure out if that's true or not.
The most straightforward way to judge who is the better hitter, using Grieve's definition -- hitting the ball hard on the good part of the bat -- would seem to be comparing line drive percentage. After all, hitting the ball hard on the good part of the bat is going to generate a line drive, most of the time, and hitting the ball in another way isn't going to generate a line drive.
And you know what? Grieve was right. Young does have a higher line drive percentage than Ichiro. In fact, Young has the highest line drive percentage in the majors this year. (The worst, by the way, is overpaid former Ranger Gary Matthews, Jr.).
Not only that, Young also has the lowest infield popup rate in the majors...and an infield pop, one would think, is the converse of a line drive.
So, in terms of the act of pure "hitting" -- putting the bat on the ball squarely and hard -- there has been no one better in the majors this year than Michael Young.