What Went Wrong: 4-5-6 Hitters In The ALDS

Fan Confidence Poll: October 10th, 2011
Offseason Principle: Don't Trade Montero

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look back at what went right, what went wrong, and what went as expected during the 2011 campaign.

That's all she wrote. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Yankees somewhat surprisingly won 97 games during the regular season and finished with the best record in the American League, but they lost three of five to the Tigers in the ALDS to end their season. They outscored Detroit 28-17 during the five-game set, showing that when faced with a small sample, it’s not about how many runs you score, but when you score them. The Yankees posted the lowest ERA (3.27) among the eight teams during the LDS round, but they lost the three games by a total of four runs.

A number of things will typically go wrong whenever a team loses a playoff series, but nothing went more wrong for the Yankees than their supposed heart of the order. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher, otherwise known as the 4-5-6 hitters, went a combined 9-for-55 with two doubles, one homer, seven walks, and 16 strikeouts. That works out to a .164/.266/.255 batting line and a .243 wOBA. All the other Yankees in the series combined to hit .305/.386/.466, roughly a .378 wOBA. It seemed like every time the Yankees had something cooking on offense, these three would come to the plate and almost immediately put out the fire for Detroit.

To get an idea of how awful A-Rod, Tex, and Swish were during the ALDS, just look at the players around them. Robinson Cano, who hit third in front of them, reached base nine times in the five games but scored just two runs, when he drove himself in on a pair of homeruns. Jorge Posada, who hit seventh behind them, had a monster ALDS (six hits and four walks), but he drove in a total of zero runs because no one was on base in front of him. The 4-5-6 hitters went a combined 1-for-13 with two walks and five strikeouts with runners in scoring position, and the most damning instance of their RISPFAIL came in the seventh inning of Game Five. With the bases loaded and one out, A-Rod struck out, Teixeira walks, and Swisher struck out to end the threat. It was the last time the Yankees would make any kind of sustained rally on the season.

The Yankees didn’t lose to the Tigers in the ALDS solely because of A-Rod, Teixeira, and Swisher, but they were certainly a significant contributor to the series loss. When your third, fourth, and fifth best hitters in the regular season (by wOBA) combine to hit like the corpse of Chone Figgins in the postseason, it’s going to be really tough to advance. Quality pitching, which the Yankees generally received in the ALDS, can only take you so far.

Fan Confidence Poll: October 10th, 2011
Offseason Principle: Don't Trade Montero
  • vin

    There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t wish the Division Series was a best of 7. Baseball is about the grind of playing day-in and day-out for 6 months. In the playoffs, especially in a best of 5, an ill-timed slump, or a couple of bad breaks can quickly end your season.

    Sadly, MLB is much more likely to add another (very short) playoff round than it is to tack on 2 extra games to the DS.

    Whether the Yankees win the DS in 3 or lose in 5, I’ve always wanted to see a best of 7 – it will raise the odds of the better team prevailing. If you want Cinderella stories, then go watch College Basketball. Major League Baseball is different.

    • CMP

      A 1 game wild card series is going to pretty much be an abomination when they expand the playoffs. I’d much rather see the regular season cut back to 154 games and expand the playoffs.

      It can be structured so the owners don’t lose any games, just more of them if shifted to the postseason.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Owners of teams that don’t make the expanded playoffs will lose games (and money), therefore it won’t happen. Too bad. I’m with you. Cut back the regular season and have no playoff series less than 7 games.

        • Bob Stone

          I totally agree.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    The point about Posada having no RBI and Cano scoring no runs (other than on homers) is especially poignant.

    • David, Jr.

      This. You can’t say it any better than Cano “reached base nine times and only scored twice, via his two home runs”.

      The entire rest of the team was at least decent, and if the 4-5-6 would have done virtually anything, we win easily.

      Of the three, I blame ARod the least. He gave it a shot, encumbered by three injuries in various stages of recovery. The other two have no excuse at all. They simply choked.

  • CMP

    I wouldn’t say A Rod, Teix and Swisher were “awful” during the playoffs, their sample size was just too small to give a truly representative performance.


    • Kosmo

      Good one ! lol

    • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com Alex Taffet

      You completely missed the point. Tex, A-Rod and Swisher were in fact awful, as this entire post explained. What that does NOT mean is that the three are bad players. Nor does it entail that they will perform in this way in future postseasons.

      The true definition of ‘RAB’d:’ Thinking with a rational, broader picture view instead of a reactionary, “what happened yesterday?” view.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        What? He was mocking the people who said that and quite a few comments did have something similar.

        And yes mocking is very much apart of the RAB comments. Not that I have an issue with it, just saying.

        • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com Alex Taffet

          If that is the case, my bad. I read it as though he was referring to the post itself.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      I laughed.

  • Babnik

    A-rod had one of the greatest post-seasons ever and won us a WS. What’s the defense for Tex’s third awful post-season?

  • Alibaba

    A-Rod did not deliver, but many others failed as well. We are seeing proof in front of our eyes that MLB playoffs are crap-shoot. The top teams from both AL and NL are out. Philadelphia’s game 5 story was remarkable similar, inability to get that big hit. Don’t forgat that they had an all-star starting rotation.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While the 4-5-6 hitters didn’t perform (and are rightfully taking a bashing for it), the manager also deserves part of the blame. Girardi needed to change things up and didn’t. I really have a hard time when a manager can’t see the obvious. During a long season, you can get away with waiting for someone to come around, as Joe did with Jeter and to a lesser extent Jorge. In a short series that is “win or go home”, you need to adjust to what’s happening now. Joe should have either known that A-Rod was hurt and couldn’t perform to his expected levels or he should have seen it. He deserves blame along with these guys. Hopefully he learns from this and adjusts, if necessary, during the playoffs next year. I fully expect the team to be back.

    • David, Jr.

      Don’t understand your point. Start Nuney instead of ARod? Drop ARod in the order?

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Drop A-Rod, Move Posada and Gardner up in the order. They were both performing quite well and needed to be at the plate more often. Perhaps even give Chavez a start.

        • David, Jr.

          Could be, although it is easy with 20-20 hindsight. I could have seen flipping Swisher and Posada. I’m not sure that a good Gardner performance in a few games justifies moving him up to a power spot.

          The manager is always an easy target, but the main thing is that these three guys completely failed, which negated strong performances by other parts of the team.

          My manager objection is the failure to give more at bats to Montero. He could have broken the series wide open.

          • Dan

            I agree. When the lineup came out for Game 5, I was surprised Swisher and Posada weren’t switched just based on performance so far in the series. You would think Girardi would want a more consistent hitter in the 5 spot when Swisher had looked lost at the plate. The only time I could have really seen pinch hitting Montero in a big spot would have been for Swisher with the bases loaded and two outs in the 7th. With how well Posada was hitting, I don’t think they were going to take the bat out of his hands. The only reason I could think that Girardi didnt use Montero in the 7th was, one because he is a rookie and didnt want to put him in that high of a pressure situation, and two that there were still two more innings left and he might want to burn his best pinch hit option.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Agree hindsight makes certain decision look easy and the manager is also an easy target. However, as blame is being passed around now, I just don’t feel it all should land on the players (although most of it should). There are things Girardi could have done given the circumstances. He did make one move prior to the series (moving Robbie up to 3rd), which was a good one, but again, in a short series, you need to adjust quickly.

            And BTW, although it wasn’t clear in my post, I wasn’t advocating for moving Gardner up to a power spot in the order. During the season, he’d have Gardner bat 1st against righties and Jeter 2nd. As Gardner showed he was performing well, Joe could have gone to that.

            • Dan

              How do we know that moving Robbie up to 3rd didn’t hurt more than it helped? It might have been better to have a good hitter breaking up Tex, Arod, and Swisher. Maybe Posada drives in more runs if Cano was still hitting 5th.

              • CountZero

                My thought exactly. Not saying moving Cano to 3rd WAS a bad move — but just saying you have to consider it since he was in fact your #5 hitter for almost the entire season.

                I guess you have to ask: Is it better to stack all the hot bats together (and by definition stack the cold bats together as well), or mix them in.

                • Dan

                  I agree. I think it particularly hurts when you stack your cold bats in the 4-6 spots in the lineup because they are most likely going to come up in big RBI spots. It basically meant the only way the Yankees could score runs were if the inning started with Posada and they managed to string hits together from the #7-#3 spot in the lineup because as we saw in Game 5 when the middle of the order came up in RBI spots it killed any rally. Also, its not like you are going to pinch hit ARod even with his struggles, so really the only player out of the 3 I could see being pinch hit for is Swisher.

  • JohnnyBGoode

    Russell Martin was a black hole.
    Honestly, offer this guy arb, and run away with a draft pick.

    • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com Alex Taffet

      Seeing as how the Yankees don’t seem inclined to use Montero as a full time catcher, that would leave, Austin Romine as a starter. Believe me, you will miss Russell Martin. Besides, Martin was exactly leave average as a hitter. Combine that with his stellar defense, and you have a very productive player.

      • JAG

        Also combined with the fact that Martin is not a free agent at season’s end. The Yankees are either playing Martin, trading him, or non-tendering and letting him walk for nothing like the Dodgers did. Guess which is most likely.

  • Kosmo

    Sometimes a Brian Doyle a Bucky Dent or a Jose Visciano needs to step up. The game is not necessarily won or lost by the middle of the lineup.
    How about an occasional complete game shutout ala Chris Carpenter. 25 men should all be eating crow.

    • Monteroisdinero

      You forgot me!

      Luis Sojo

      • Kosmo

        I forgot about Luis ! Apologies all around !

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      That’d be nice if Nunez could fit that.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Bases loaded 1 out x2 with nobody scoring is the reason we are no longer playing. Strike outs, pop ups-that’s what killed us.

    Martin, Gardner, ARod x2.

    Somehow a different approach is needed when we are not hitting HR’s in short series. Even Cano’s unintentional dribbler past Benoit was productive. It’s up to the hitters to change their approach to make effective contact-easier said then done of course.

    • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com Alex Taffet

      It’s not fair to cite Cano’s dribbler in that example. He put a horrible swing on the ball, and happened to get lucky. I would argue that Cano’s “approach” in that specific at bat was every bit as bad as the others.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Right but that wasn’t my point. Sometimes a slow grounder or a push bunt with one out/bases loaded HAS to get better results than a popout or a K.

  • Kenny

    I guess that’s what happens to aroid when theres no more steroids.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Yesterday I mentioned how we have become the Atlanta Braves of the 21st century. In the last 10 years we have lost a WS in 2001, were ousted by the Angels in 02, lost the WS in 03, 04 was tragic. We did not get very far in 05,06, 07, did not make the playoffs in 08 and finally won in09. 10 and eleven are fresh in our memories. Thus the resemblance to the Braves of the 1990s is quite awakening.

    • Kosmo

      I believe a number of people have been making that claim for about 6 years now.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      If winning the WS all those years was not an alternative, would you have prefered to do what most of the other teams in the league did during that span and not participate in the playoffs at all? While I kind of get your point (hate to be seen as the team that can’t finish), I’d still rather have what they did than perhaps make the playoffs once or twice during that span.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        Agree wholeheartedly Cris. You are absolutely correct.

    • Accent Shallow

      Errr. . . what?

  • Darren

    Except we have completely different starting pitching now then we did in the failures of 2002-2008. Yanks not winning in 2010 and 2011 is vastly different than the Braves of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz not winning except for ’95.

    Also, why would you want to put aside 2009 as if it wasa minor blip of success?? WE WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!

    And I know Tex has been terrible, but he did get a pretty big walk off dinger in 2009. Not saying that it excuses anything, but I don’t know if I can say he choked because of the playoff pressure. More like his bad approach all year carried over into the post-season.

  • mt

    As I recall, the one hit was a ground ball single by Swisher and it did not score a run (not his fault that no one scored although clearly if he had hit an etxra base hit someone would have scored).

    I agree – AROD should get somewhat of a pss – he did have health issues – at least had a key sac fly and 2 RBI groundouts although Detroit’s conservative infield play helped by not going home on at least one of them. I also do give AROD more of a pass since his defense was very good.

    I do think Girardi does have some of blame here – I did see one statistic that said this was one of only 2 or 3 playoffs in Yankee playoff history where Yanks kept the exact same starting batting order every game.

    Not sure it would have made a difference but something just bothers me about someone who forces CC into a game for his first relief appearance ever (after a very irregular rest schedule preceding that appearance and with other alternatives) and then also pinch hits for Gardner in Game 2 with Chavez after Gardner had come through in Game 1 – what I would call 2 very aggressive moves – but did nothing about AROD or Swisher position in batting order. (I know Swisher has great regular season numbers against Benoit in terms of that last at bat and that was why he may not have pinch hit for him.)

    If someone does not have a lot of time to get his timing back and is hurt at end of year why do they automatically have to bat clean-up? I know – because they’re ARod.

    Having Tex and Swisher bat together given their prior playoff freezes and their 2011 difficulty against right handers was a bit rigid. Posada should have been moved up especially after game 3. Maybe Gardner, too.

    Again probably would not have made a difference but Cano and Posada numbers are so jarring versus Arod/Tex/Swisher that maybe it would have helped.

  • Tim

    Why should it come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed this team throughout the year that they would win two blow-outs and lose three close games in the LDS. For some reason, this team was terrible in close games all season, and horrendous in extra innings. The playoffs just continued a season-long trend.

  • Mike r

    I wanna see Tex and swishes post season stats from the last 3 years… In 09 swisher and Tex didn’t do shit Arod carried them… Such a joke need to reshuffle the lineup I love swisher but his postseason fails are getting d quick.

  • Mike Smith

    What went wrong? I’ll tell you what went wrong:

    Total number of stolen bases, hit-and-run plays, bunts, sacrifices, and pinch hitters used in Game 5: ZERO.

    Joe Girardi’s entire offensive game plan for the season is: Hit away.

    Girardi, the worst manager in baseball, lost Game 5, not the hitters. Anytime you load the bases twice and don’t score a run, it’s because the manager sucks.

    Only a complete fool sends a man batting .090 up to bat with bases loaded and the entire season on the line. The commissioners office needs to investigate whether Girardi threw this game for organized gambling syndicates. Otherwise every decision he made in that game is incoherent.

    With the talent in that dugout, Miller Huggins or Billy Martin would have won 125 games this season. Girardi’s obsessive reliance on computer printouts cost the team at least 20 wins in 2011. The Yankees need to get a manager who actually knows something about the game of baseball and doesn’t rely on statistics to make decisions.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      • Mike Smith

        Whether you’re serious or not, you’re definitely stupid.

  • duzzi23

    I place the blame 90% on Tex Swish n Arod. Tex n Swish were horrendous yet again n cant even hit a sac fly. I feel like Arod is being blamed unfairly the guy was hurt and played a great third base n gave it his all. Plus after what he did in 09 he doesnt deserve to be treated so shitty. The other 10% i blame Girardi for not making any adjustments Leyland did and look where that got them. I think they need to add another contact high average guy like Texas with Michael Young who can come up with a single in a big spot instead of always relying on the long ball n swinging for the fences.

    • Mike Smith

      It begins in spring training. Players do at the plate what they’re told to do at the plate. They’re robots, they make no decisons for themselves. That’s why there is a Third Base Coach giving them signs before every pitch. It’s the manager’s job to have an offensive plan to bring in the critical runs. The reason the Yankees lost Game 5 is because Girardi has no offensive plan. His entire offensive strategy is “play the old guys and everybody swing away.” Donald Duck could do that.

      The manager has to ensure that every man on the team can lay down a successful bunt. The only man in baseball who doesn’t know the adage that “you play to tie at home and win on the road” is Joe Girardi. The first time the bases are loaded with one out, the only possible play is to send the hitter up to lay down a safety squeeze and tie the score. The second time you have the bases loaded and one out, you send Montero up there, who batted 1.000 in the series, and not Arod, who was batting .090 and swinging like a 7-year old T-baller at that point.

      A good manager also plays every game like it’s going to go 15 innings, and doesn’t use every pitcher on the roster by the 7th inning. Girardi’s panicky use of Sabathia as a reliever on two days rest was just idiotic. It wasn’t HOW Swish, Arod and Tex hit, as if they were making all their own decisions what to do up there. It was the failure to to train them to bunt, to have them use situational hitting, the failure to utilize a deep bench in game-critical at-bats, and incoherent pitching decisions that cost that game. And that’s 100% Girardi.

      • jay h

        you are kidding, right?

        • Mike Smith

          I saw my first game at Yankee Stadium long before you were even a twinkle in your daddy’s eye, son. Next year is my 60th Anniversary as a Yankees fan. I got my 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card down at the gas station for .05 cents witha stick of gum and four other cards. Learn something about the game before you post here.

          • http://www.twitter.com/andrewleighnyc Andrew

            You forgot “…now get off my lawn!!!!!”

          • Sam

            Can we hear the story about how the ferry used to cost a nickel next?

            • Mike Smith

              Boys, you don’t start out in the army as a general and work your way down to private, or start in business as the CEO and work your way down to messenger boy. With age comes wisdom, which both of you Girardi groupies lack. Now get off my fucking lawn.

          • thenamestsam

            Yup, Old school baseball men who have been around the game all their lives definitely know best and their wisdom should always be deferred to. Sort of like Joe Girardi. Oh, wait.

            Also if the Yankees had done “the only possible play” and safety squeezed, I (and many others I’m sure) would have made the “only possible play” of shooting myself in the head.

            • Mike Smith

              There is ZERO that is old school about Girardi, who couldn’t take a dump without Sabermetrics. The idiot has to look at his computer matchups to figure out how to put on his hat. Miller Huggins would have won 125 games with the talent in that dugout. All of the great Yankees managers of the past would have squeezed in that situation, and we’d be on our way to the World Series (and thenamestsam would be dead). And NONE of them would have sent a man batting .090 in the series up to hit for himself with the bases loaded, two outs and the entire season on the line because he had a big name and big contract. Face it, JOE GIRARDI SUCKS.

  • dalelama

    The Choke Brothers gag again…..

  • great


    • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

      Why stop there? Demote him to ball boy and promote Mike Smith to manager!

  • virginia yankee

    Looking backwards Yada Yada USELESS – the REASON offense was UNPRODUCTIVE was GIRARDI built the lineup around ARod – hitting in Aug and September like an 8 -9 Hitter – the Gifted Manager Girardi batted him at #4 – he should not have been playing at all – his return from the Knee was not yet successful and there was no REASON to believe he would recover in the Playoffs — Build the lineup with Nunyez or if need be Chavez (See Fielder for Tino as historical example) and the results “are” different – EACH GAME was only 1 key hit, sometimes an out moving a runner from a win — Nunyez was providing that level of offense – ARod was both a hole and a negative impact on Graderson Texiera Cano batting order who won the 96 games

    Don’t yell at me for hindsight — I pointed out ARod deficiency prior to the Playoffs – and REQUIRED Girardi have the guts that Torre showed

    and I am mot BLAMING him — Jeter’s hamstring took 4 times as long to heal as forecast — ARod needed time that wasn’t available

    FREDDIE is a BARGAIN was also a fatal flaw — Wally Pipp was a Bargain – so was Girardi — THEY KEPT BETTER PLAYERS from playing — Freddie and Bartolo were LUCK and a joy to watch BUT THEY WERE NOT A SOLUTION to beating the better teams — their “success” actually FOGGED Cashman’s thinking such that he DID nothing to become as competitive as needed – so like 2008 and 2010 – WS years were wasted