Yanks showing patience & contact skills early on


(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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…

K% BB% wRC+
2012 11.1% 15.4% 116
2011 18.0% 9.9% 113
2010 17.8% 10.4% 112
2009 15.7% 10.3% 117
2008 16.2% 8.6% 104
2007 15.2% 9.8% 120

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.

Categories : Offense


  1. Bil says:

    Let him go, he is lazy, never seen him dive for a ball or run out a ground ball. Id rather see a new face at second!

  2. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Not concerned with the offense right now. Agreed, and like what I’ve seen from at-bats. (Must remember: teams that put more runners on base strand more runners on base. Rinse. Repeat.)

    A good second turn from the rotation and that W/L record will looking a lot better.

  3. Save a 'Stache says:

    I’m concerned about the offense for many reasons:

    - Teixeira really does seem like a complete waste. This year we might rightly say he isn’t even in the top half of AL 1Bs.

    - Jeter is playing completely over his head. The chances of him sustaining this are slim to none.

    Otherwise, I dont see much to like. Ibanez is a nothing. Swisher is fine but hardly remarkable. Martin is going to get way too many at-bats with nothing behind him. A-Rod is just not the same player any longer. And Garder is nice to have but hardly a positive on offense.

    That leave Cano and Granderson. I would be more surprised by them having a repeat of 2011 as them slipping a notch.

  4. Chris says:

    Why can’t Teixeira hit right-handed only? He hit a ball opposite way yesterday batting RH. I saw him pull two outside pitches as a LH hitter the last two games. I’ve heard he has got more power from the right hand side of the plate. That might stop the shift that teams put on him and will possible stop the thoughts that run through his head too. Just a thought.

    • Guest says:

      Tex hits very, very well as a righty…against left handed pitchers.

      He has never faced a brush back pitch from a righty, never faced a nasty slider moving down and a way.

      Tex is very likely better off hitting lefty against righties as opposed to hitting lefty.

    • Guest says:

      As for the shift, something really should be done. The height of insansity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Tex consistently ignores the shift, and ends up losing hits as a result.

      Prince Fielder said “I laugh in the general direction of your shift” to the Sox on Sunday, and sparked a ninth inning comeback rally with a 20 hopper down the third base line. A lot of people say power hitters should ignore the shift and try to do what they are paid to do, hit homeruns. And this would make sense…if power hitters hit homeruns at a much greater clip than they actually do.

      The best power hitters get HR’s in what, once every 12 at-bats or a little more than 8% of the time? I know I’m making this percentage up, so take it with a grain of salt, but Prince Fielder was going to get a single taking the approach he took against the shift, what 60% of the time? Isn’t a single 60% of the time better than a HR 8% of the time?(It is an OPS of 1.200, not bad.)

      More importantly, once teams decide they don’t like giving away free singles, they will stop using the shift, and we can see Tex hitting line drive singles to right or getting singles on sharp ground balls in the 4.5 hole again.

      Maybe Tex doesn’t have the bat control to do what Fielder did, but I doubt it. Maybe Tex doesn’t have the ability to learn how to lay down a bunt, but I doubt it.

      One thing I do know is Tex’s ridiculously low BABIP will remain ridiculously low as long as he does nothing to combat the shift.

  5. Monterowasdinero says:

    Tex took some lefty swings against KLong (lefty) in bp last night. Hit a few out. I think his power from the left side is better than right considering YS. No way he hits only righty since he won’t ever hit an opposite field HR.

  6. jjyank says:

    We all like to complain about RISPFAIL, but the bottom line is the only reason the Yanks leave so many guys on base is because they put in inordinate amount of guys on base to begin with. Baseball is a game of failure, most of the time, they won’t knock those guys in. The fact that they have so many opportunities to do so is a product of a patient and talented lineup.

    Other teams wish they had as many opportunities with runners on. Scoring 6 runs in 3 out of 4 games is pretty damn good, yet there are plenty of people in this thread complaining about the offense…what spoiled Yankee fans we can be.

  7. gageagainstthemachine says:

    Is it bad that my stomach starts to turn over when Tex walks to the plate to bat left-handed the same way it did when Burnett was on the mound every fifth day? I know they are far apart…but in a way I am starting to expect the pop-up/ground-out into the shift the same way I expected a good couple of innings and then the inevitable 4th inning meltdown from AJ. It’s early and he’s a notoriously slow-starter, so I am laying out hope, but we’ve all seen the all-or-nothing from the left-side progressively get worse, right?

  8. the Other Steve S. says:

    They should have built hydraulic actuators into the damn walls when they built the stadium. Then we could survey the crowd before each at bat and move the fences according to popular opinion. As long as the acreage in play stays the same, good to go.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Which would lead to a funny visual of the stands behind the plate swallowing up poor Chris Stewart.

  9. Monterowasdinero says:

    Speaking of patience at the plate or lack thereof, Alex came up with one out bases loaded and hit into a dp on the first pitch.

    All-time grand slam leader Lou Gehrig at 23.

    Second place ARod at 22. Is that a record/milestone we won’t have to pay for in his contract?

  10. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I think it’d be awesome if every comment thread lasting more than three responses ended in a continuous loop of “The Irony Guy” pointing us back to Rainbow Connection’s comment.

    • Havok9120 says:

      You’re bashing people who get out of line. STOP IT!!

      Besides, 3 responses is unrealistic. Any more than 2 is clearly an argument and must be headed off because disagreement, and jokes, are bad.

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