As discussed earlier, the Yanks’ starting pitching hasn’t been as good in June as they were in May. Unfortunately, the offense has been similarly disappointing. They’ve seen sizable drops in batting average and slugging percentage, predictably leading to a drop in runs per game. With the pitching malfunctioning, the Yanks have been in a tough spot all month.
(The actual drop in runs scored per game isn’t all that pronounced — about a quarter run per game. However, that’s propped up by the killing they laid on the Mets last Sunday. If they had scored five runs instead of 15 that game their runs/game would be below five in June. This is why we need to look deeper than runs per game.)
As is usually the culprit in a case of an underperforming offense, the Yanks’ team BABIP has taken a dive in June. After posting BABIPs of .302 and .298 in April and May, resulting in batting averages of .281 and .282, the Yanks have stumbled to .246 in June. The team batting average has gone along with it, settling at .245 after Thursday’s embarrassment. That explains a lot. The Yankees, it appears, have hit one of those stretches where almost no one is hitting the ball hard.
What the Yankees have done well despite it all is to continue to get on base, and continue to hit the ball hard. Their team OBP stands at .344, just .005 lower than May. They’ve also seen 4 pitches per plate appearance, higher than their marks in April and May. So while they’re not hitting the ball as well, they’re still making outs at about the same rate. They’re not scoring runs, of course, because while walks will avoid outs, it takes hits to get guys home. The Yankees just haven’t done that in June. Given the low BABIP, though, we can expect that to correct itself soon enough.
One might see the Yanks’ slugging percentage in June, .435, and note that it’s far lower than April, .473, and May, .497. However, it’s not as bad as it looks. Slugging percentage is based on batting average, so if a team is getting fewer hits in general they’re going to see a drop in SLG. It appears, though, that the Yankees are simply hitting fewer singles in June. The team’s isolated power — subtracting out the singles to get a hold of true power numbers — is .190 in June. It was .215 in May and .192 in April (and the .215 ISO is in part because A-Rod and Tex went nuts with the homers that month, and that wasn’t likely to continue). So they’re still hitting the ball hard. They’re just not getting hits as frequently.
If all this doesn’t spell s-l-u-m-p, I don’t know what does. These kinds of things happen over the course of a baseball season. It can’t continue much longer and it’s not something to get too worked up over. The worst part of it is the timing. The hitters seemingly went in the tank during the Sox series, and that carried a bit, (hopefully) peaking during a series against the worst team in the league. It’ll get better, and soon (as in, sometime during the nine game road trip). That much I guarantee. The hits will come more frequently, and once they do everything else is in place. They’re still patient, and they’re still hitting the ball hard when they do hit it. They’re just not hitting it hard as frequently. Again, these types of things have a way of working themselves out.
While the conclusion is that the offense will soon be back to normal, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a good share of goats. Let’s look at some of the underperformers.
Jorge Posada: .227/.320/.455
Yeah, that’s a horrible BA, but it’s almost all due to a — get this — .212 BABIP. Seriously. Jorge’s ISO-D is still at .093, and his ISO-P is .228. Once those singles start dropping, he’ll be back on a roll.
Johnny Damon: .214/.302/.455
Johnny’s BABIP is even worse at .195. He did have that eye issue, though that might not be as big a part of this as a mere slump. His ISO-D is .088, which is around where it was in April and better than it was in May, and ISO-P is .286, which is by far his best. Again, once the singles start dropping…
Melky Cabrera: .192/.271/.308
Batting average dropped from .327 in April and .321 in May to .192 in June. Is it the Melky slide? Nah. His BABIP dropped from .356 in May to .209 in June. I suspect the real Melky is somewhere in the middle. Hopefully that’s what we’ll see going forward.
Hideki Matsui: .200/.333/.422
Matsui’s BABIP has fallen consistently since April: .315, .246, .182. Unsurprisingly, his BA has fallen along with it. Will Matsui be that .290/.370/.450 guy we’d hoped for? Probably not. However, indications are that he can do a bit better than he has in June.
Alex Rodriguez: .145/.309/.291
This is the toughest case, because there’s always the lingering concern about his hip injury. His power has been greatly sapped, too, as he has just four extra base hits in 55 AB this month. He does only have seven hits total, though, so when he does hit it he hits it hard. He’s a much, much bigger concern than the above four guys.