The Yankees won their first game of the season last night, scoring exactly six runs for the third time in four games. They also drew seven walks compared to just two strikeouts, continuing an early-season trend of taking ball four and putting the ball in play. The Yankees currently have the lowest strikeout rate (11.1%) and the highest walk rate (15.4%) in baseball, and frankly it’s not all that close in either category.
Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher lead the way with five walks and two strikeouts each while Robinson Cano has yet to strikeout in any of the four games. Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira also have more walks than whiffs while Derek Jeter and Raul Ibanez have the same number of both. Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson are the only regulars with more strikeouts than walks. It’s only four games, but stuff like this is still fun to see. The Yankees are billed as a power and patience club, and they’re getting both without the typical byproduct of strikeouts. That’s actually been a bit of a trend during the Kevin Long years…
The average walk and strikeout rates during that time are 8.5% and 18.0%, respectively, so the Yankees have been better than average at both. Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Martin have always been high walk, reasonable low strikeout guys while Cano doesn’t do much of either, walks or strikeouts. Swisher and Granderson struck out a whole bunch, but they also drew plenty of walks. That’s all by the design; the Yankees have sought out players who make pitchers work and generally make contact.
The early-season results are a rather extreme example of what the Yankees are capable of doing offensively. David Price was the only member of Tampa’s vaunting pitching staff to record more strikeouts (five) than walks (four) during the season-opening series, and poor Brian Matusz never had a chance last night. At some point the club’s walk and strikeout numbers will even out and resemble what they did over the last half-decade, but right now getting the best of both worlds. Power, patience, and contact.