Yankees’ offense amongst expansion era elite

Game 125: A-Rod's Back
Sunday Night Open Thread

Last week at Over The Monster, former Baseball Prospectus writer Marc Normandin noted that the Red Sox staking a serious claim to being to being the best offense of the expansion era. The case is compelling. At the time, the Red Sox were second only to the 1976 Reds in TAv and were tied for second with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers in wRC+. Normandin also noted that the Sox were going to be cutting some dead weight from their lineup, which made sense at the time but didn’t happen once Youkilis and Ortiz got hurt. Since that point, the Yankees themselves have moved up the charts and may in fact beat out the Sox for best offense in 2011 and one of the best offenses of the expansion era.

As of Friday, the Red sox had played 123 games and scored 653 runs, an average of 5.31 runs per game. The Yankees had played one fewer game than the Sox, but had scored seven more runs, giving them a league-leading total of 660 runs and an average of 5.41 a game. If they both continue on their current pace, the Sox should score 860 runs while the Yankees will score 876. The below chart contains this data, as well as their respective TAv and wRC+ scores.

Offense since expansion era as of 8/19/11.

As you can see, the Red Sox lead the Yankees by 2 hundreths of a point in TAv. The Yankees mark of .286 leaves them within striking distance of the 1982 Brewers, while the 1976 Reds are likely out of reach for both teams. In wRC+ the Yankees lead Boston by one point, and their mark of 119 is good enough for third since the start of the expansion era, an impressive feat. Their wOBA is .351, a mark higher than any other team in baseball.

There’s upside in the Yankee offense down the stretch. The team is supposed to get Rodriguez back today, and he’s obviously a huge boost. Personally, I expect Rodriguez to be fresh from all the time off and able to hit for more power than he did earlier in the season now that he’s had his troublesome knee repaired. His defense may suffer a bit in the first few weeks as he works to regain quickness and begins to trust his knee more and more, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go on an offensive tear over the next five weeks. Yet, as the team rolls into September and gets closer to clinching a playoff spot, it’s possible that some of the lesser talented offensive players, whether they’re bench players or September callups, will get more and more playing time. As a result, I wouldn’t expect the team to finish markedly below or above their current marks. The 2011 Yankees likely won’t be the greatest offensive force since the dawn of the expansion era, but they may rank in the top 5, and they may be just as good or better than the 2009 Yankees. Last I recall that team did OK for itself come October.

Game 125: A-Rod's Back
Sunday Night Open Thread
  • Jamal G.

    Funny that you mention the 2009 squad because I was drooling over their production the other day: eight of their nine regulars posted a wOBA of at least .370. All you can do is laugh.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      Without looking it up, I’ll guess the guy who fell below that mark is the same one with a 121 RC+ this year for KC.

  • Captain Beatty

    Those are some good offensive ballclubs on that list. This is the best offense in baseball with ARod. Unfortunately, not even the best offense in baseball can bail out AJ Burnett every 5 days.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      That’s not an issue come October. The question will be if someone can match up with Beckett and Lester. If not, Yanks get to watch the Sox lose to the Phillies this year. If they get past the Sox, the Yanks will have the honor.

      I don’t see anyone beating the Phillies this year, but I’d love to get the chance to pull off that long shot. The best, most memorable series are the ones where everyone picks against you. Like 1996.

      • The Fallen Phoenix

        No one saw anyone beating the Braves in 1996. Or any other year they had their Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine dream rotation.

        Or how about those As in the early 2000s? Zito/Mulder/Hudson weren’t much worse.

        Oh. Wait. The Yankees beat both sets of rotations. Lol.

  • Across the pond

    How much credit should Cashman get for consitantly putting together an offensive juggernaut?

    I was reading some “best” lists on SI (i think) the other day and even though the Yanks were voted as best franchise of the last decade, had the best manager in Torre, and the best team in 09…Theo was voted as the best GM??? Cash wasn’t even in the top 10.

    Surely a GM that keeps putting out a runscoring team deserves more credit?

    • JohnnyC

      Guess they don’t hold not having a decent shortstop since 2004 against Theo and, LOL, give him extra credit for players acquired and drafted by Duquette.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      If you give every GM 200 million dollars to work with I’m sure they can make a top notch offense.

      • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

        I get this POV but not having him in the top 10 is really stupid if you’re going through the decade.

      • Across the pond

        I get that is the argument alright but it’s not as if the Red Sox are spending 100 dollars. They have a huge payroll too.

        Other GM’s routinely spend 70-100million dollars putting lineups together that are brutal offensively. It obviously isnt as easy as just spending the money.

  • Frank1979

    Just out of curiosity how come none of those mid-90s Indians made this list?

    • C-Mac

      I was wondering that too, to be honest.

      • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

        TAv and wRC+ are stats that are adjusted for both league and park. So the Yankees’ performance this year is scaled to the performance of the 29 other teams in the league this year. In the link I’ll provide below, you can tinker with the numbers and take a look for yourself, but late 1990s Indians rank at various spots in the top 100. The reason theyre likely lower on the list than a team like the 2011 Yankees has to do with the level of offense league wide in the late 1990s compared to today. As you’ve likely no doubt heard, offense is down league wide in 2011 from last year’s levels. Without doing the extra 2 minutes of work to confirm (sorry), I can venture that late 1990s offense was very elevated, so while teams like the Indians clubbed the everliving snot out of the ball, their performance is still gauged against their other competitors that year. Hope that answers the question, please feel free to follow up if it doesnt make sense.


  • Dropped third superstar

    Wow interesting stuff, but what does it matter if they dont win a ws title? Rather be last in TAv, what ever that is, and be last one standing come october.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      Sure, but you’re just arguing how meaningless October baseball has become. The best teams get decided during the long regular season. Those same teams most often don’t win it all in October. So a team that gets hot for a few weeks at the right time (which happens all the time during the regular season, even for bad teams) gets to bring a trophy home that makes their think they’re better then everyone else. They still aren’t, they just won a tournament.

      I’d rather be the best team AND win the WS, but winning/losing in October doesn’t mean as much as most people think. Unless you’re into parades or something.

      • Dropped third superstar

        Thats baseball. You gotta run the marathon but its the sprint that counts. Those clutch moments of fall baseball is what creates memories, joy, excitement. Stats are great dont get me wrong sabermetrics are great tools for the marathon but to win the 3, the 4, then the next 4, it takes more then stats. The post season isnt less meaningful, it is what baseball is defined by and why pettitte, mo, and jeter are legendary athletes. Winning is what counts.

      • CMP

        Winning the title of best regular season team is loser talk. Fair or unfair, winning the world series far and away trumps anything done in the regular season.

        Have you ever heard of the 2001 Mariners or 1906 Cubs listed among the best teams of all time? Didn’t think so.

  • James

    that 1998 squad…. i was 12 then and watched every game and sometimes, as time goes by, the things you remember seem fuzzy or not real, but then you see they scored 965 runs!


    And remember, Chili Davis got hurt right at the beginning of the season and didn’t come back until September. Good lord if he was healthy all year.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      That team was one for the ages. Ridiculously efficient at scoring runs, put a very good pitcher on the mound almost every day. That team seemed to follow a script

      1-Get out to early lead
      2-Get solid outing from starter
      3-Get shutdown relief from bullpen

      That year, it felt like most games were decided by the 3rd inning. Sometimes the 1st.

  • http://Movoto.com Kolz

    What about the 1997 Indians? Jeff Kent and Brian Giles were bench players that year!?!

    • James

      Jeff Kent wasn’t on the 97 Indians… Richie Sexson was though.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    And no they’re not as good as the 2009 Yankees in production.
    2009: .283/.362/.478
    2011: .278/.349/.452

    • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

      2009 Yankees OPS+: 114
      2011 Yankees OPS+: 112

      2009 Yankees wRC+: 118
      2011 Yankees wRC+: 119

      Just putting the BA/OBP/SLG is pretty misleading with the way offense fell off the table after 2009 overall.

      Frankly, I’m surprised there’s not more talk of the 2007 Yankees on here/in general. I know sometimes it seemed like A-Rod and everyone else but dear lord. .290/.366/.463, all of which led the majors – and that’s an .829 OPS as a team. 116 OPS+, 120 wRC+, 968 runs scored, wow.

  • JP

    How meaningful are differences of hundredths of points in the TAv statistic? Are they even significant digits?

    This is the sort of thing that frustrates me so much with sabermetrics. I understand the logic and recognize the validity of statistics such as WAR, etc. I’m not anti-sabermetrics, I’m not a dinosaur, I don’t worship batting average, etc.

    But at the same time, there is a tendency to talk about modern statistics in irrational ways. This article is an example of this. It’s pointless to rank something like TAv unless you know the level of precision of the stat, the significant digits, etc.

    • JP

      ….actually, THOUSANDTHS of points, not hundredths….

    • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

      What, exactly, is irrational about it? Just because you dont like it or dont have a use for it or dont understand it doesn’t mean that its irrational. This is a way to compare offenses across decades. If you want to use a different methodology, have at it. But just because you don’t like this methodology doesn’t mean its pointless.

      • JP

        It isn’t that I don’t “like” the stat. Re-read what I wrote. Any statistic – a statistic is defined as a number calculated from other numbers, designed to make inferences about a population – has limits of precision. Any number calculated from data has a fixed number of significant digits. Any measuring device has an upper limit of precision.

        NONE of these elements are defined for TAv, or for most sabermetric concepts.

        If you have a ruler which has millimeters as its smallest gradation, you can’t use it to give a measurement in microns. By the same token, a value like TAv has a limit of precision. What I am saying is that a difference of three thousandths may be completely meaningless, because the math/science behind the formula used to calculate it ceases to be significant past, say, tenths.

        It has nothing to do with me liking or not liking the stat, or whether or not I “understand” it. I understand the concept. I like sabermetrics. We are all hamstrung, however, by the fact that when these stats are quoted in articles and used to discuss baseball, we are not typically apprised of the stats’ limits of significance. I believe if you are going to use these statistics to make a point, you are obligated to support your position by showing that the numbers you are using are indeed valid and significant.