The Yankees’ offense by inning

Miguel Cabrera, Yankee Killer
Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium set for August

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the Yankees have done a lot of scoring early in games this season, but not so much later in the game. They’ve put 65 runs on the board in innings 1-3 through the first 26 games of the year, but just 79 runs in innings 4+ (including extra innings). Given the team’s modus operandi of “work the starter then go to town on the bullpen,” you’d expect that to be a little more balanced out.

The graph above (which you can click for a larger view) shows two things in relation to each other. The first vertical axis (the blue line with dashed trendline) is the team’s wOBA while the second (the red line with dashed trendline) is the team’s left-on-base percentage, both by inning. I left extra innings out of it because the Yankees just haven’t played many of those, thankfully. The peaks and valleys in the wOBA line have to do with the batting order; the peaks are when Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano are typically at the plate, the valleys are basically everyone else. I’m not sure why it drops off so much in the 8th and 9th innings, but a .350-ish wOBA is still well-above average. The Yankees are still producing with the bats in the late innings, there’s no doubt about that.

It makes sense that the LOB% line would be the opposite of the wOBA line, the more offense the team is producing, the fewer runners they’ll strand. So that should be down when the wOBA is up, and vice versa. But at the end of the game, from the sixth inning on, the strand rate has plateaued at more than 80% for some mysterious reason. The league average strand rate is 72.1% and has been right around that number for the last few years, so the Yankees are running into some bad luck here. Stranding runners is not a repeatable skill (unless you have a pitcher with a 1.0 batters faced-to-strikeout ratio), so this is something that should even out as the season progresses. More late inning rallies are the way … at some point.

Miguel Cabrera, Yankee Killer
Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium set for August
  • JGS

    Probably should just start the graph at 1 and not 0. There is no 0th inning, and that’s messing with the trendlines.

    • Mike Axisa

      I meant to, I just uploaded the wrong image. Fixed now.

    • Thomas

      Agreed. This was my first thought.

      Also, I wouldn’t have put lines between points (or at least used straight lines). The curved lines make it appear as if there is a relation between inning (for example, the graph makes it look like at inning 4.5, the Yankees having a .350 wOBA).

      • KeithK

        Definitely straight lines would be better. The data is discrete – there is no inning 4.8 or 6.2 – so the graph should reflect that. Actually a bar graph for the data with an XY trend line might be the best presentation.

  • 28

    I would imagine that the large dropoff in the 8th and 9th innings has to do with the pitcher quality faced in those innings. Typically the team sees fresh relievers in those innings, pitchers who are often elite relievers or lefty specialists.

  • Clay

    I’d love to see the difference between Yankee offense and league offense. I expect most teams will have graphs similar to this, so the interesting data is how the Yankees offense differs from the average.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Always nice to have a lead after the first or second inning. Starting pitchers like it. If we all agree that Cano is our best hitter, why shouldn’t he bat in the first inning of every game? 2nd/3rd-I wouldn’t care.

    It took Miley a few months to bat Jesus 3rd last year.

  • http://deleted How Ya Doin

    “As much as the Yankees scored in the first 2 innings, that’s how little they’ve scored since then.”


  • Mark

    So funny…I was thinking the exact same thing today when I was walking to the subway. The Yankees go crazy against the starters but struggle mightily against the “weak underbelly” of teams bullpens. Why is that? Very interesting. Small sample size?

    • AndrewYF

      That seems to be the exact opposite of what we’re familiar with.

    • 28

      I’d believe it to be that typically relief pitchers are closers or ‘eighth inning men’ who are higher calibre relief pitchers who throw very different pitches and speeds than the starter. When you’ve seen 6 or 7 innings of a starter throwing low-90’s, your swing can end up being really off for that relief pitcher who may throw more around 97, 98.