All numbers cited are as of 6/28 before the game
Oh, our outfield. Coming into this season, it looked so promising. Matsui, Damon, Abreu. And Melky as a backup to boot. Yeah, there were chirps and whispers about the age of the unit, but hey, 34 isn’t exactly old. And for guys who had been were great last year (with the obvious exception of Matsui), you wouldn’t expect them to turn shitty overnight.
But really, that’s what they did. At least in relative terms. Any way you want to slice it, they’re not performing to expectations. And it’s freakin’ killing this offense (among other things, of course, but this one is just glaring). A quick look at rate stats will make this abundantly clear.
In left field we have Matsui, who actually ranks third in the AL, behind Carl Crawford and Manny — who in a normal year would be ahead by eons, but is only up .013 on Crawford. Shannon Stewart of Oakland ranks last with .395, followed closely by the slap-hitting Reggie Willits at .399. I don’t know what it is about Matsui, but it doesn’t seem like he’s hitting this well. He’s a tick below his career slugging (.481), which is expected given his age. And it’s not like his batting average (.278) is carrying that slugging. There’s really not much to complain about with Matsui’s power.
When we get to center field, it’s a different story. Twelve guys qualify in the AL. Two of them are from the Yankees, both of whom are in the bottom third in slugging. Melky is at .365 and in 9th place — a whopping .044 points behind the No. 8 guy (David DeJesus…what school did he attend again?). Our favorite injury case Johnny Damon is in 11th at .357. Granted, he is ahead of 12th by .055 points. But No. 12 is Corey Patterson, who wouldn’t have qualified if he played for a real team (and yes, that “fake” team beat the hell out of us).
And don’t give me crap about center fielders not having power as a requirement. Five guys have a SLG above .450: Granderson, Hunter, Sizemore, Ichiro, Matthews Jr. (by the way, it’s great to see Vernon Wells with a .722 OPS).
I had to avert my eyes upon initially sorting the qualified right fielders by SLG. Our $15 million man Bobby Abreu sits in 11th place out of 11. He is .026 behind No. 10, which happens to be Nancy Drew. He’s .054 behind the next real competitor, Jose Guillen of the Mariners. The leader: the on-fiah Magglio Ordonez, at freakin’ .637. For those of you without a calculator, that’s .279 ahead of Abreu. Magglio’s ISO (SLG minus BA, so it measures power without the singles mixed in) is .260. I don’t know what that means, but I know it’s bad.
On Base Percentage
It’s so difficult to gauge left fielders because there are only seven that qualify in the AL. Toronto, Baltimore, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, Texas, and Chicago all don’t have a left fielder that has both enough at bats and games in left field to qualify. So we’re stuck with a relatively small sample. Matsui sits right in the middle of qualified left fielders in terms of OBP. His .354 mark puts him behind Stewart (.360), Manny (.386), and the soon-to-come-crashing-down Willits (.430). Crawford, Raul Ibanez, and Craig Monroe (at freakin’ .277!).
Now to our two qualified center fielders, who happen to be ranked back to back. Unfortunately, they’re both in the bottom half of the 12 qualifiers, ranking 8 (Damon) and 9 (Melky), even though their OBPs are .017 apart (.333 for Damon, .316 for Melky). The only players below them are Coco Crisp (despite Damon’s struggles, Crisp is still worse), Vernon Wells (ha ha!), and Corey Patterson (.580 OPS).
Normally, Abreu would be No. 1 or 2 in OBP among right fielders — and top 5 in the league. This year, well, it’s just not Bobby’s year. He’s at a middling .346 mark, which actually trails our buddy Nancy (.353). At the top are Magglio (.452) and Vlad (.424 — when the hell did he learn to walk?!?). Really, this is where Bobby was supposed to be strong. Even if he isn’t a 30 homer guy, his ability to get on base is valuable enough for the Yankees lineup. But now we don’t even have that. And, to make matters worse, his OPS (a pathetic .704) is the lowest among qualifiers — even lower than Jermaine Dye, he of the .286 OBP.
Against League Average
Okay, we’ve seen how the Yanks players stack up against players on other teams who happen to play the same position. Let’s move to see how the Yankees stack up against the league by position. That is, we’ll compare production of the Yankees outfielders to the league average.
Even though Melky’s 61 at bats when playing left field bring down Matsui’s .279/.357/.438, the Yanks stay above league average here. That’s all fine and good…as long as you’re exceeding league average at the other outfield slots.
So even with Melky’s hot June (.306/.365/.459), they can’t even manage league average at center. Imagine if they had continued trotting Damon out there. So yeah, barely league average in left, well below in center. And oh boy, you know it’s going to be ugly in right…
Ouch. Big ouch. Wanna see something else?
Totally lacking. Barely above average left field, well below average in right field, center field, and first base. Heck, while we’re at it, let’s look at the rest of the diamond.
Ugh. The OBP will never be there, but c’mon, Robbie, you gotta slug better than .406 (Cairo bumps it down the extra .003).
He is no man, but a baseball hitting machine!
Yeah, Jeter can hit baseballs pretty well, too.
You think the backup catcher means nothing. Yeah, those stats look very nice, especially compared to league average. But what if Jorge wasn’t in the midst of a career year? Nieves brings him down by .035/.036/.063. That’s a huuuuge difference.
Sadly, most of that is Giambi.
And, finally, the Yankees team vs. the league average:
So close to league average. And we haven’t even touched the pitching.