Playing to the backs of their baseball cards

Say 'hello' to the new backup first baseman
Update on the Brackman negotiations

As a matter of principle, I refuse to do one a mid-season report card. You read about the team here every day (or at least we hope you do), so there’s no reason to recap half a season’s worth of posts. Plus, at this point, we all know the state of the team: we need to go on a ridiculous run to have any shot at the playoffs. And by ridiculous run, I mean two out of three every damn series. That, my friends, is the definition of “easier said than done.” These are the Yankees, though, and we all know that anything can happen.

What makes this even tougher is that many players will have to completely turn around their seasons in the second half. So imagine that you’re having a shitty season when expectations are high. You’re already under a ton of pressure. Now the pressure is magnified because the team is depending on you to stop playing shitty baseball and have a monster second half. Let me explain further.

The most uttered line this weekend is that many guys are going to have to play to the back of their baseball cards in the second half for the Yankees to make any kind of run. In particular, this means Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and to a lesser extent, Robinson Cano.

Bobby Abreu is on pace for 715 plate appearances this season; he currently sports a line of .264/.352/.373. In order to bring that up to his 2006 season (combined NY and Philly) — .297/.424/.462 — he’d have to hit, .332/.502/.561 to match that. Ain’t happening. He can still salvage the season and not reach his numbers from last year, but it will still take a .310/.450/.500 second half. He proved last year that he could do it…

We know Johnny Damon won’t hit his power numbers from last year — it was an outlier. However, his .359 OBP and .285 BA should certainly be the goals, especially if he’s in the leadoff role. Let’s then set his goal slugging at .439, his 2005 mark. He’s currently on pace for 145 games played with 597 plate appearances. To hit his .285/.359/.439 mark, he’d have to hit .329/.381/.544. Once again, not happening, but if he actually starts hitting, the BA and OBP are do-able.

For some reason, people were ripping Hideki Matsui for poor play as recently as a week or so ago. This I never understood. Yeah, he’s having a below average year by his standards, but he hasn’t been bad by any stretch. This is even more true when you compare him to the rest of our outfield. Anyway. Our purposes are best served by using Hideki’s career numbers, which are .294/.370/.482 — he’s currently at .274/.358/.464, so he’s not too far off. He’s on pace for 555 at bats. He’ll have to hit .313/.381/.502 over the remainder of the season. That is very achievable for Hideki, who should flash more power as his wrist heals more completely (I’ve heard that it’s 18 months from break to full strength recovery).

Then you have Robbie, who is hitting .274/.314/.427, which isn’t so hot. We’re not even going to discuss how he can get back to .342/.365/.525, because it’s damn nearly impossible. However, he’s hit like a beast this month. This is the Robbie we all know. He’ll have to keep up that pace in the second half. Once again, he’s demonstrated that he can do it.

We’ll touch on the pitching tomorrow. For now, I’ll leave you with the Yanks numbers this month, in which they are 5-3:

Phillips: .455/.500/.591 — who is Mark Teixeira, anyway?
Abreu: .440/.429/.640 — yeah, now just keep that pace up…
Melky: .405/.421/.514 — .328/.379/.466 since May 31
Matsui: .300/.417/.700
Jeter: .343/.410/.400
Posada: .267/.371/.333 — cooling down, but still a huge contributor
Cano: .323/.364/.645 — 3 taters last week
Damon: .200/.351/.233 — probably the worst DH in the league
Alex: .179/.281/.429 — slumped a bit, but picked it up in the Angels series

Say 'hello' to the new backup first baseman
Update on the Brackman negotiations
  • Count Zero

    Can’t argue with any of those numbers, however I think you’re a little on the pessimistic side.

    We don’t really need for all those guys to lift their season numbers to the “back of the baseball card” — we just need them to play to the back of their baseball cards in the second half. With the return of “Don’t Call Me Phillip” (kicking Quest back to the anonymity of AAA where he belongs) a possible masher role reprise by the Giambino in late August-September, an Edwar that falls somewhere between the two outings he’s had so far, and a bit of luck, this team is capable of playing .667 ball the rest of the way.

    Mind you, I’m not saying it’s likely — there are a lot of ifs in there — I’m just saying it’s more plausible than you’re admitting. If all those guys you discussed were actually to lift those horrid first half numbers to back of the baseball card levels for the entire season, they would probably be playing well over .700 the rest of the way. :-)

  • John

    How is Abreu’s BA higher than his OBP?
    I’ve been one of the guys really knocking Matsui. I think he tries to pull the ball too often, which makes it easy to get him to ground out to second in the big spots.
    After he hit that homer against Minnesota he said that he was angry with himself for being too quick on the 3-0 pitch so he tried to drive the 3-1 to center. He hit it out.
    I’m praying that this will be reassuring to him and that he’ll be less pull conscious in the second half. I’m tired of seeing him spin himself into the ground.

  • Joseph P.

    Re: Abreu

    His BA is higher than his OBP because of sacrifices. They don’t show up in your BA, since they don’t count as at bats. But they count against your OBP, because it’s a plate appearance in which you made an out.

  • Barry

    If you think about it, it’s what we deserve for having such a bloated team.