Jun
22

It takes a village

By

Following a crisp 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 8, the Yankees were sitting pretty. They had a one-game lead atop the AL East, and after a highly-anticipated series in Boston, the team faced a relatively easy slate of Interleague opponents. It all looked so good on paper.

Two weeks later, the outcome is much bleaker than anyone would have expected it to be. The Yankees went to Boston and got swept in a three-game set. They eked out a 2-1 series victory over the Mets thanks in large part to a freak play in the bottom of the 9th inning of the first game. Then, they dropped two out of three to both the Nationals and Marlins, the fifth and fourth place teams in the NL East, respectively. I predicted a 10-5 run through the NL. Already, the Yankees are 4-5 and 4-8 over their last 12.

Since holding onto that first place lead, the Yankees have lost five games in the standings to the Red Sox. They sit four out of first place, just one game ahead of the third-place Blue Jays and two ahead of the charging Rays. My, how times have changed.

While yesterday’s 1.1-inning outing from CC Sabathia provided an exclamation point on a bad stretch, the pitching has generally not been the problem. Yanks’ hurlers have a 3.84 ERA over their last 12 games and are striking out 8.4 men per 9 innings over that stretch. Opponents are hitting just .234/.316/.409 off the Yankees’ staff.

The problem has been the offense. While Yankee pitchers have done their jobs, the team is hitting just .248/.329/.409 over that same stretch of games. Ten double plays and a lack of timely hitting have left the Yanks on the wrong end of five one-run games since June 8. That’s just bad luck.

Meanwhile, the big bats are the ones slumping. Take a look at this sortable table below. It shows every Yankee with five or more plate appearances between June 9 and June 21 arranged in descending order of OPS.

Player AB Runs Hits HR RBI BB K GDP BA OBA SPct OPS
Brett Gardner 17 2 7 0 2 1 0 0 .412 .444 .529 .973
Hideki Matsui 28 5 8 2 5 7 6 0 .286 .429 .536 .965
Robinson Cano 49 7 16 3 8 1 6 2 .327 .333 .571 .904
Mark Teixeira 46 6 13 2 5 7 5 0 .283 .377 .500 .877
Francisco Cervelli 11 3 4 0 2 0 2 0 .364 .364 .455 .819
Derek Jeter 43 6 12 1 4 3 3 3 .279 .326 .372 .698
Jorge Posada 32 4 7 1 2 5 4 0 .219 .324 .344 .668
Melky Cabrera 37 5 8 1 5 5 7 0 .216 .302 .351 .653
Johnny Damon 43 6 8 2 6 4 10 1 .186 .255 .372 .627
Nick Swisher 37 3 7 0 1 7 7 3 .189 .318 .297 .615
Ramiro Pena 7 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 .286 .286 .286 .572
Angel Berroa 7 2 1 0 1 0 2 0 .143 .250 .286 .536
Alex Rodriguez 35 2 4 1 5 6 10 1 .114 .279 .257 .536

As the chart shows, two-thirds of the Yankee lineup have been producing at OPS levels under .700 for the better part of two weeks. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez are dragging down the offense. More problematic as well is the prolonged absence of Hideki Matsui from the Yankee lineup. As Interleague play moved to the NL parks, the Yanks lost one of their hottest hitters.

For the optimists among us, this chart provides some comfort. These players won’t continue to perform at below-average rates for much longer. That these players ran into slumps as the pitchers heated up is the Yanks’ bad luck, though. It’s small comfort to look ahead and hope for the next hot streak, but it will come soon. When it does, the Yanks can charge up the standings just as swiftly as they fell.

Categories : Analysis

95 Comments»

  1. RAB poster says:

    When the bats heat up so will the Yanks.

  2. jsbrendog says:

    im bypassing the tired meme’s for a breath of fresh air.

    the yankees will be in 1st place by the 4th of july bbqs and we will all celebrate with beers, bbq and friendly games of horse shoes.

  3. UWS says:

    When it does, the Yanks can charge up the standings just as swiftly as they fell.

    It’s a shame, then, that the season has been over for the Yankees for some time now and nothing they do can put them back in contention.

    /Confidence level = -4

  4. John says:

    You know something’s wrong when Brett Gardner is leading the OPS category on a graph(could be a great thing if everyone playing to their potential)

    But I like how Gardy’s coming along, especially when Melky’s regressing.

  5. Nick Swisher is streakier than Frank the Tank.

  6. Anyone says:

    So A-rod over that stretch = Angel Berroa?

    Ewww…can’t wait for him to get on fire.

  7. Bo says:

    Let’s hope the pitching doesn’t go in the tank once the offense heats up. Would be nice to have both clicking at the same time for a nice stretch.

    • True that. We’ll see what happens with CMW against the Braves. If he can keep taking baby steps, you have to be encouraged, and if he can pitch confidently enough that we can send Hughes down and promote, say, Melancon, Claggett, or Dunn for that last spot in the pen, we can have one more flexible situational reliever to match up with.

      • radnom says:

        Yes, as fantastic as Hughes has been out of the pen, a lot of that is negated by the (seemingly) strict babying approach they are taking on his use.

        As well they should, but it would be nice to have a Melancon type up here and have Hughes back starting in AAA.

        • Accent Shallow says:

          They’re babying him because he’s shadowing Wang, and because they don’t want to commit to him as a reliever long-term. Which is all well and good, but certainly hurts the flexibility of this year’s pen.

  8. YankeeScribe says:

    As I posted on the confidence topic, I’m starting to worry about this team because they seem to have an identity crisis.

    Which version of the 09? Yanks will dominate the second half?

    April – The team hit the cover off the ball but the pitchers and defense couldn’t hold leads

    May – The team pitched well, played flawless defense, and lineup routinely picked each other up in the clutch

    June – The pitching staff is settling down but the lineup can’t buy a hit with RISP even if the pitcher is throwing beach balls

    ;Hopefully it’s the May version…

    • Is the team having an identity crisis, or are we as fans projecting our own doubts and fears upon the team and ascribing our identity crisis onto them?

      • YankeeScribe says:

        This is still a very new team. There are lots of new faces and guys we’re unfamiliar with as far as watching a guy play on a daily basis. It’s not like these guys have all been playing together for years.

        Plus we have a manager who is in his second year and still not quite set in his ways or managing style. So it’s quite legitimate to question the identity of this team.

        Individually, I’m confident that certain players will improve but whether or not all the new parts fit together into one perfect puzzle, is still undetermined…

        • Everything you just said accounts for like, 5-10% of baseball, tops.

          The other 85-90% of baseball is individual talent level matchups of pitcher-to-hitter.

          How long they’ve been “playing together” and how well the new parts “fit together” is pretty insignificant. What is significant is that we have a lot of good pitchers and a lot of good hitters.

          The team isn’t having an identity crisis. They know what their identity is. It’s a championship caliber baseball team.

          • Whoops, “The other 85-90% 90-95% of baseball is individual talent level matchups of pitcher-to-hitter.”

            Epic Fail ME.

          • YankeeScribe says:

            I’ve been watching baseball about 20 years now. Stats, individual matchups, etc. go out the window once the game is being played on the field. Leadership, execution, and teamwork makes chamionship calibur teams, not on paper stats.

            Baseball one of the least predictable sports. That’s why games are played and people watch them. Who could have predicted coming into this season that AJ Burnett, a career Red Sox killer, would get owned by them in his first two starts vs Boston this year.

            I’m not saying that past performance is completely useless. Over the course of a full season, the law of averages will eventually catch up to a team or player and all the slumps and losing steaks will be forgotten.

            All I’m saying is that after almost 3 months, they’ve looked like 3 very different teams.

            • Nobody who’s “been watching baseball about 20 years now” would really say that “stats, individual matchups, etc. go out the window once the game is being played on the field”.

              That’s horseshit. Once the game is being played on the field, stats and individual matchups don’t “go out the window”, they’re friggin magnified and elevated to predominance, because they’re what’s most important.

              You gotta be kidding me.

              • YankeeScribe says:

                They go out the window without EXECUTION on the baseball field. Stats are important as far as evaluating players but they don’t matter on the field if the players don’t execute. And if players are not executing you have to ask why?

                I agree with the assessment that this year’s Yankees are a championship calibur team ON PAPER but it’s now almost July and we’ve seen more games where they execute and play like a .500 ballclub than a championship calibur team.

                • They go out the window without EXECUTION on the baseball field.

                  First of all, I’ll assume you’re talking about stats. I wasn’t talking about stats. I was talking about talent and matchups. YOU brought up stats. I brought up talent. TALENT dictates baseball games. Execution, intangibles, leadership, all that jazz… it’s a tiny fraction of the game. Talent trumps everything else by a longshot.

                  Stats are important as far as evaluating players but they don’t matter on the field if the players don’t execute.

                  Stats matter in the game because they dictate strategy. Stats cause a manager to pitch around a batter to face the one behind him, to use extreme shifts, to pinch hit, etc. But, really, “stats” don’t matter for on-field decisions. TALENT matters. Stats are merely the numerical quantification of talent.

                  And if players are not executing you have to ask why?

                  You do. The answer is usually “Shit happens”, because players not executing is generally just the natural vagaries of baseball. Good players often fail. Bad players often succeed. Over larger sample sizes, good players will succeed more and bad players will fail more. Over small sample sizes, we attribute this natural random distribution of results to mythical concepts like “execution”. Most of the time it’s just chance and circumstance.

                  I agree with the assessment that this year’s Yankees are a championship calibur team ON PAPER but it’s now almost July and we’ve seen more games where they execute and play like a .500 ballclub than a championship calibur team.

                  If that statement were true, we’d have a .500 record.

                  We don’t, because we’ve actually had “more games” where we’ve played like a good team rather than like a “.500″ team. Which is why we have the 5th best record in the entire league.

                • YankeeScribe says:

                  “We don’t, because we’ve actually had “more games” where we’ve played like a good team rather than like a “.500? team. Which is why we have the 5th best record in the entire league.

                  I knew you would bring that up but our record only matters so much at this point because it’s still June. A few games over .500 isn’t much since even .500 ballclubs get lucky a few times a season. If we’re only 6 or 7 games over .500 in September, would you still consider this a chamionship calibur team?

                • If we’re only 6 or 7 games over .500 in September, would you still consider this a chamionship calibur team?

                  No, but it doesn’t work that way. If we’re 6 or 7 games over .500 with only 42% of the season played, that doesn’t extrapolate to 6 or 7 games above .500 at the end of the season, because you’d be changing our rate stat. We’re winning 55.1% of our games. That extrapolates to 89-73, which would be 16 games over .500.

                  Maybe the reason you dislike stats is because you don’t understand them that well.

                • YankeeScribe says:

                  Who said I didn’t like stats? You don’t need to school me. My above point is that they haven’t played enough games so far for having the 5th best record to amount to much. The season ends in September not June…

                • YankeeScribe says:

                  Having the 5th best record in June is good but far from a lock for the playoffs. Mets fans can relate…

              • JackC says:

                Well, throwing stats out the window when the game starts is self-evidently silly, but I don’t have the unshakable faith in them some people do, nor do I think the psychological component is negligible. I don’t think it’s a coincidence they were flying high, got their clocks cleaned in Boston and then lost 2 out of 3 (if not for Mr. Castillo) to three consecutive teams of notably inferior talent. I think there’s a lot to be said for confidence, not machismo or braggadocio, but genuine, (usually) quiet confidence. Or lack thereof. And that’s a real variable in the game, I believe, just I as believe it’s not very easily quantified statistically.

                • YankeeScribe says:

                  I think there’s a lot to be said for confidence, not machismo or braggadocio, but genuine, (usually) quiet confidence. Or lack thereof. And that’s a real variable in the game, I believe, just I as believe it’s not very easily quantified statistically.

                  Bingo. That’s all I’m saying. Certain things can’t be quantified or measured. However, most of what I orginally said can be backed up by stats.

  9. MattG says:

    For: .248/.329/.409
    Against: .234/.316/.409

    Plug that into a couple of equations, and it comes out 6-6. Maybe even 6.2-5.8. Bad luck.

    Sometimes seasons are lost due to bad luck.

  10. Teix is the man says:

    Francesa has the shittiest intro song…but seriously,i would like to see less streakiness. It is easier to see them win one lose one rather than win 5 lose 5

  11. clapton100 says:

    Interesting analysis, I knew Damon was slumping, didn’t realize it was that bad

    I don’t think this is completely random, most of the slumping hitters are older players, and in the era of tighter drug testing, they can’t rely on amphetamines as much as in the past

    Not joking about this at all, there’s a fair amount that’s been writen about this

    Over the next few years, I’m guessing there will be a greater premium places on both youth and depth

    Luckily, the Yankees have started to rebuild the system, which was almost fallow for about a decade

    Too bad they have ARod’s onerous contract to contend with for 9 more years

    Not bashing him, but what are we likely looking at when he’s 36/37/38 years old?

    • Anyone says:

      but what are we likely looking at when he’s 36/37/38 years old?

      Hopefully his 3 rings :)

    • Chris says:

      It’s not inconceivable that A-Rod would continue to put up monster numbers. For example, Hank Aaron had a 177 OPS+ at age 39 (of course, there is no guarantee that he was clean).

      As for Damon, didn’t he complain of diziness and trouble seeing in the Boston series? His dropoff since that series is remarkable.

  12. Gardner should be taking ABs from Cabrera right now.

  13. Conan says:

    Take away Cano’s back-to-back games where he went 7-8 and his stats don’t look that great, either.

  14. AP28 says:

    If you’re ARod right now, you start taking HGH to get your power back. Don’t understand why more players don’t take this stuff. There are no tests for it! Its impossible to get caught through the current testing policy. He has 2HRs in his last 84 ABs He obviously needs to get some pop back in his bat.

    • HgH’s positive benefits to healthy adults who have no HgH deficiency = probably nonexistent
      HgH’s negative health repercussions to healthy adults who have no HgH deficiency = significant

      Virtually every medical professional says taking HgH when your body doesn’t have a problem making its own HgH is incredibly dumb. All risk, no reward.

    • JP says:

      He has plenty of power, he just can’t hit the ball on the barrel of the bat. He’s flailing up there.

      I think he has serious performance anxiety. I looked at the appropriate fangraph numbers on him, and he’s doing fine by the numbers in “leverage” situations, probably on the basis of 2 big hits early in the year. THe walk off, and the game tying HR against Philly.

      I guess you can’t write those off, but other than those, his performance in key situations has been absymal. (As in non-key situations, of course…) In those series against the twins and rays, etc., he was up with bases loaded something like 6 out of 8 or 9 ABs, and he did nothing in those ABs. I honestly think the guy has bad performance anxiety.

  15. GG says:

    I dont know if it has been talked about extensively, or at all, or not at all already on RAB, but I think a very important flip flop in the batting order is overdue. Third and Fourth: They shouldnt be set in stone…can’t Girardi flip flop em? in recent weeks A-Rod has looked like he could use Tex’s protection, not the other way around as was the case weeks ago…It’s not like we don’t have a good five hitter be it robbie or jorge to protect Tex.

  16. Jake K. says:

    Just wait till we find out that the village the Yanks are living in isn’t really old-timey and there is no monster in the woods — they just hate modern society! Twist!

  17. JP says:

    For the optimists among us, this chart provides some comfort. These players won’t continue to perform at below-average rates for much longer. That these players ran into slumps as the pitchers heated up is the Yanks’ bad luck, though.

    I agree with the latter. The former statement, though, is sort of the “gambler’s fallacy.” The fact that they have just finished playing below average for a stretch doesn’t predict anything about what will happen. They might be on their way to poor seasons…

    I’ve been watching YES for only 3 years. Before this, I lived in Dallas and hardly ever even saw the games. It’s very interesting to watch post game interviews.

    When I watch the interviews with the players, I get concerned. Granted, they are not going to look or sound great after a loss, but the players seem as though they are frustrated or confused. It’s as if they don’t understand why they can’t succeed consistently.

    I know this site is heavily influenced by discussion of metrics, and obviously this is great, because metrics de-mystify things for us.

    But there are intangible things, there is such a thing as team psychology, etc. On paper, they should be a first place team. They have a very similar team to last season offensively – if anything, better, with Texiera – and the pitching, on paper, is also much better. Yet they are only at about the same level as last year.

    I don’t know if it’s buried somewhere in some statistics, but they don’t seem to be able to score runs steadily enough. They really need ARod to hit. If he continues to be a black hole in the cleanup spot, it is going to be a long season. I know he isn’t going to hit .114 for the season, but if he’s hurting and is going to throw up a .240/22 HR/.850 OPS, we are in for a long season.

  18. The Mets went into the season short about two legit starting pitchers and then lost Delgado and Reyes for huge stretches.

    It’s not their year.

  19. jsbrendog says:

    irrelevant. alex cora wins games.

    gammons’d to the nth degree

  20. jsbrendog says:

    it’s not their decade. after 2000 its been one helluva time being a met fan i would wager

  21. Hova says:

    And now Beltran is expected to go on the DL for two weeks. Disaster.

  22. jsbrendog says:

    wow really? holy crap…

  23. Hova says:

    According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, Carlos Beltran (right knee) is headed for the 15-day disabled list.
    Mets GM Omar Minaya told reporters Monday evening that he has “hope that it’s only two weeks.”

  24. The good news for the Mets: Until the Phillies make a deal for a new starter, they won’t pull away from the back, so the Mets can keep treading water and hope they get healthy enough for a stretch run.

    The bad news for the Mets: The Braves and Marlins aren’t going away, and the Phillies most definitely have both the inclination and the material to make that trade. And, they’re not gonna pussyfoot around with half-moves like a Joe Blanton, they’re looking for a real frontline guy like Bedard or Peavy.

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