Josh Donaldson looking like a different hitter since return from paternity leave

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Josh Donaldson was the hero for the Yankees on Thursday night, ripping a walk-off single in the shortstop hole in the bottom of the 10th inning to take down the Red Sox and clinch a playoff spot.

It was also Donaldson’s third hit of the night, continuing a hot streak at the plate that has been burning since the once-struggling third baseman returned from paternity leave.

A product of big dad energy? Perhaps. But whatever the reason, Donaldson has looked like a different hitter in September, possibly finding his old ways just in time for the stretch run and the postseason. After Thursday’s 3-for-5 night, Donaldson is batting .317 with a .944 OPS and three home runs in the 10 games he has played since returning from the birth of his child.

In the month of September as a whole, Donaldson is batting .278 with an .828 OPS, his best offensive numbers in a month since May.

Donaldson has drastically improved his ability to make contact, posting a strikeout rate of 19 percent this month after hovering around 30 percent over the previous three months. He has also dropped his ground ball rate by nearly 15 percent from last month, and is posting the highest fly ball rate of any month this season at 46.5 percent, helping him generate more power.

Donaldson has also begun driving more balls back up the middle, hitting 46.5 percent of his batted balls to center field. That’s the highest monthly mark of the season, and an increase of 13 percent from last month.

The Yankees are working to get their offense at full strength in time for the playoffs, and with Donaldson now joining Gleyber Torres as previously slumping bats that have come alive of late, the lineup is looking much more suited for October.

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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