The Bases Loaded Epidemic

Yanks don't hit, pitch, or field in loss to Halos
The division no one wants to win
(REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)

It’s no secret that the Yankees have struggled with runners in scoring position this season and more specifically, this month. Blame bad luck, blame a bad approach, blame unclutch hitters, whatever. Assigning blame makes us feel better but doesn’t really accomplish anything. All I know is that it continues to happen game after game and sometimes it doesn’t even matter because they win anyway.

The struggles with men on second and/or third have become most evident with the bases loaded over the last two or three weeks. Last night the Yankees came up empty in two bases loaded situations, and I seem to remember a few bases loaded, zero out situations against the Reds and Royals a few weeks ago that resulted in a total of zero runs. As a team, the Yankees have no hits in their last 15 at-bats with the bases juiced and just one hit in their last 34 at-bats in those spots. The bases loaded futility has gotten so bad that all you can do is laugh at this point.

Now the Yankees were, by far, the best hitting team in the league with the bases loaded last season. They hit .337/.354/.604 with ten grand slams and a measly 15.8 K% in 178 plate appearances in those spots a year ago, but this season they’re down to .151/.222/.302 with a 20.6 K%. That’s not quite NL pitcher bad (.122/.155/.154 with a 36.4 K%), but it’s a lot closer than it should be. They do have two grand slams though, so that’s cool.

“We’re going to have plenty more chances, so let’s see if it irons itself out,” said Joe Girardi after last night’s game. “We haven’t done very well this year, and we’ve been very good in the past. It’s just kind of what we’ve went through this year, one of the struggles that we’ve had.”

The season isn’t that young anymore. I mean, it still is, the Yankees have 113 games left to play, but the sample sizes are not just little one or two week specks of information. We’ve got nearly two months of info and frankly if you date back to last year, the struggles with runners in scoring position is a continuing trend. Right now those struggles are showing up to the extreme with the bases loaded, and at some point someone will hit a bases-clearing double and it’ll be a huge relief. That doesn’t mean everything will be okay though. Hitting a ton of homers is the best thing an offense can do in baseball, but at some point the Yankees have to start cashing in these chance and score runs in other ways.

Yanks don't hit, pitch, or field in loss to Halos
The division no one wants to win
  • Kosmo

    Obviously Yankee hitters are pressing in RISP situations. Maybe Girardi is right it will iron out over time. Hopefully sooner than later.

    • Esteban

      Maybe? Do you really think the Yankees will continue hitting so poorly with RISP?

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Well, it is theoretically possible. Perhaps not likely, but possible.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It kinda has to, doesn’t it? I mean, hitting with RISP isn’t a particular skill that needs to be learned. It’s about what choices are being made, and why the hitters are often making poor choices. The capability to correct course shouldn’t be in question.

      It’s incredibly frustrating. It still makes more common sense to me, though, to believe that the more runners you put on, the more you’re going to leave on.

    • dave

      You know what? I am sick and tired of Girardi’s same cliches about the hitting.
      NO ONE holds anyone accountable as the same lame old excuses.
      He will be saying the same thing the rest of the year as everyone sucks up and then IF they make the playoffs they will get knocked out because of there pathetic hitting.
      It knocked them out the last two years and will unfortunately knock them out this year.

      • Esteban

        What do you want him to do to hold people “accountable?”

  • CP

    We’ve got nearly two months of info and frankly if you date back to last year, the struggles with runners in scoring position is a continuing trend.

    They hit .273/.361/.455 with RISP last year – better than their overall numbers, so I’m not sure how this would be a continuing trend (and they were even better with the bases loaded). It’s obviously frustrating That they’ve struggled so much, but let’s not make up things to make it sound even worse.

    They’ve had 63 PA this year with the bases loaded, which is about two complete games. That’s basically nothing in the grand scheme of things. This will eventually even out. Hopefully this season.

    • Ted Nelson

      Don’t ruin the narrative with fancy facts and logic!

  • mike

    Can we move the lineup a bit??


    I cannot see it doing any harm, and maybe it will help Cano at the plate as well because he looked mentally burnt in the 9th inning…Granderson has too many homers to not have driven in more runners, so until Gardner and his OBP are back in the 9th spot, I believe he should be moved down.

    • Dan

      I like this idea, and even when Gardner comes back it seems like it would still make sense to hit him 4th. Granderson has been the teams best power hitter over the past season and a half and having Tex hit behind him gives him some protection. However, even when Gardner comes back by having Granderson hit fourth he should have more men on base.

    • Kosmo

      The only problem with Granderson is his career inability to hit with 2 outs,RISP. Most of his 2012 HRs are solo shots . He´s got something like 13 RBIs with RISP.

    • Tim

      Granderson isn’t hitting much better with runners on, RISP or RISP w/2 outs. Just because he is hitting homers doesn’t mean he would do it with runners on. He has had just as many opportunities as Cano with RISP and RISP w/2 outs.

  • Will (the other one)

    It also seems worth mentioning that the team’s BABIP with the bases loaded is a paltry .143, compared with a .341 mark last year. Needless to say, what this actually means depends largely on what you believe about BABIP; hopefully it indicates an abnormal trend that will average itself out by year’s end.

    • Ethan

      Some is an abnormal trend sure. But a lot of it has to do with some players not being able to go to all fields and trying to pull the ball. Those players are going to have far lower BABIPs.

  • mt

    Yes, regression should happen but sometimes I worry about everybody getting and staying too tight in these situations. They do seem a bit snakebit – for example, last night 2 of their 3 hits with runners in scoring position did not score runs because they did not get through the infield. At least those 2 infield hits were well struck and Aybar made 2 great plays. I can remember at least 6 or 7 hits over the last 2 months with men on second (and sometimes, also on first)which counted as singles but were so weakly hit nobody scored (as I recall, ARod and Jeter had a couple of these blleeders).

    Sometimes I think I am seeing a miracle when the Yanks hit a simple run-scoring single either to or through to outfield with men in scoring position. This year it seems statistically they have a better chance of hitting a home run or a double when men are in SP (both of which of course do not happen that often). And also from memory it is not as if they are hitting run-scoring grounders or sac flies either (more pop-outs and strike-outs).

    I am only somewhat surprised at Tex, Swisher,Grandy and Alex inability to hit with RISP (have recently seen this picture before either in playoffs or past regular seasons); I am stunned at Cano’s seeming inabiltiy to hit with RISP.

  • VCR1111

    “It’ll work itself out”, “Give it time”, “It happens”, “I believe it will turn around”. Giradi’s quotes when asked about the RISP issue, struggling offense, or struggling starting pitching. I wish I had the opportunity to say the same in my job. Sit back, sip on some green tea and hope “it turns around”. The life of a Yankee manager.

    • pat

      The life of a Yankee Major League baseball manager.

      • VCR1111


    • Ted Nelson

      If it’s true in your line of work, then you can say it. It is true in Girardi’s line of work.

      • Ted Nelson

        A fund manager, for example, can say the same thing.

        • Athenian

          And continually be equally wrong.

          • Ted Nelson

            Ummm… no. There is no need to react to short-term volatility. If you think your decisions are the best decisions over the horizon you’re looking at (a season in baseball), you don’t need to move everything around every time someone has a slump (or a stock is down for a few days). Doing so can actually be the worst thing you can do. You’re going to end up selling low and buying high.

        • Athenian

          And continue to be equally as wrong.

    • A.D.

      What’s he suppose to do? There isn’t an actionable solution, and even if you want to say its blow the team up then not Girardi’s call

      • VCR1111

        Here is what Skip can do: take those $3 Million dollars he earns annually, sit in one of those cushioned chairs in his office provided by the high ticket prices we pay to see the Yankees play, and figure something out. If he really can’t do anything, then why pay him $3M. Why have a manager? I’m not blaming Girardi for the struggles…in my original post I commented on his quotes that seem to say, “I can’t do anything but wait”. Do something. Scream, yell, change the lineup around, have a Billy Martin or Lou Pinella attack on the field…something…anything!

        • jsbrendog

          this isnt a young team that needs to see their manager have a tantrum to break them from their doldrums.

          this is a veteran team and if girardi did something like that they would probably laugh at him or be appalled. with a team like this with so many proven players what ca you do but wait fr them to figure it out? and i believe he has been constantly tinkering with the lineup, so, check your facts

          • VCR1111

            June 2009 Girardi was ejected from a games against the Braves. Many point to that moment as the turning point that propelled the Yankees. I would just like to see something from Girardi than the same old quotes…do something. Throwing a “tantrum” is just something I suggested rather than “waiting”. But your point is understood about the vets on the team.

        • Ted Nelson

          Where’s the evidence that managing style is superior to a more cerebral one? Either generally or specifically for a team like the Yankees?

          • VCR1111

            When did I make that argument? You’re asking me to prove a point I never made. I suggested that instead of sitting on his hands, it would be nice for Girardi to actually do something rather than giving the same old quotes after every loss.

            • Ted Nelson

              I don’t know what to say… You say you didn’t make a point, and then literally turn around and make it.

              “I suggested that instead of sitting on his hands, it would be nice for Girardi to actually do something rather than giving the same old quotes after every loss.”

              That’s exactly the point you said you did not make.

              My question to you is why do you believe that doing something is superior to sitting on his hands?

              Specifically you suggested that he should “Scream, yell, change the lineup around, have a Billy Martin or Lou Pinella attack on the field…something…anything!”

              Again… my question is why you believe that is superior to patience.

              How about answering the question instead of claiming to not have said something… then turning around and explaining that you said that exact thing…

              • VCR1111

                Why so angry? Relax. Take a chill pill…this is a blog about a baseball team. Tone it down Edward. No one is out here to get you…it’s ok. We all want the same outcome (a Yankee World Series). Allow me to explain…

                My main point in the original post was that I seem to hear the exact same quotes from Girardi basically saying he’ll sit and wait for things to turn around. I suggested maybe he does something, change a lineup, get kicked out a game or something else. Never did I make an argument that this is a better or more superior style of managing.

                It’s something new…something to break the routine. If he was a “get in your face” type manager and the team was scuffling maybe a change in tone could be appropriate. I’m not saying that either style is superior to the next…rather changing or doing something new can spark a team.

                Instead of demanding people answer your questions, relax take a deep breath and realize that your on a blog and try to enjoy yourself. Stop being so defensive.

                • Ted Nelson

                  What are you on?

                  I’m not angry at all. I asked you a very simple question and rather than answer is you are running around in circles. Is this Plank’s new handle

                  “I suggested maybe he does something, change a lineup, get kicked out a game or something else. Never did I make an argument that this is a better or more superior style of managing.”

                  If it is an inferior style of managing, why is it something that he should do? Your comment implied that it is a good thing to do. If it’s not, why do it?

                  “I’m not saying that either style is superior to the next…rather changing or doing something new can spark a team.”

                  I understand your point. My point is that something new can spark the team or it can do the opposite, so how do you know it will spark the team rather than the opposite?

                  “Stop being so defensive.”

                  This is pretty funny, seeing as you are the one being defensive. I ask you a question about your comment, and instead of just answering it you keep defending your comment. I, on the other hand, have nothing to be defensive about. I am asking a very simple questions.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Your whole premise that they need a spark is questionable. They are the third most productive offensive in MLB by wOBA and only 2.5 games out on the 30th of May.

                    So again… why is getting tossed from a game superior to waiting for the inevitable?

                    • VCR1111

                      What I’m on?? Since you’re so adept in quoting other people, maybe you should see your own quotes to TomH and the f bomb you threw. Seems pretty angry and defensive. Temper temper…

                      Anyway back to baseball, our Yanks have been a pretty under achieving team. A spark may help them right the ship and become more consistent.

                      So again, what I suggested is maybe a CHANGE may create that spark.

                      Never did I suggest getting tossed from a game is superior to waiting for the inevitable. If Girardi was an in your face type manager and the Yanks were under achieving maybe a “waiting for the inevitable” reaction may cause the spark.

                      My argument is a change of the routine can create a spark…not the act of getting tossed, but the change itself. Something new…something different.

                      Remember Edward, take a deep breath. No one is out here to get you…it’s just a blog about the Yankees.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      So… you are still saying that changing routine is superior. Again, why would he do it if it’s inferior?

                      If waiting things out is the better course, your course will hurt the team. So I’m asking why you think that your course is better.

                      You are wasting more time chastising me for cursing than actually responding.

  • JoeyA

    It will turn around, but the question is, to what extreme?

    Getting a hit here or there w RISP will be a welcomed outcome, but, ultimately, to truly undo the lack of production in these situations over the last 2 months, they need to go on a 14-20 w/, RISP tear.

    As I’ve always said, this offense has very little consistent hitters, making it hard for the whole team to produce and easy for the whole team to go into slumps.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I don’t want to be the harbinger of bad news but what you see is what you get. This team may or may not improve and if it gets to the playoffs, it may be the last hurrah for a while. While our aging stars fade away, there are no young replacements in the horizon. Moreover, with the owners cutting down on spending and the new CBA which appears to be designed to exterminate the Yankees once and for all, things look dim for the future.

    • Ted Nelson

      Right… the Yankees have no prospects and no ability to change their roster through free agency and trades! Oh, wait… they do. Never mind.

      • TomH

        You know, this technique, of re-quoting and then adding something like “Oh wait…” etc., is becoming tiresome.

        He made several points, none of which were answered by your complacent irony: (1) limited prospects to replace declining stars; (2)budgetary austerity as laid out by ownership; (3) the new CBA which I think of as Rozellelification of MLB to make it difficult for certain teams to be continually dominant.

        If the owners are serious, then your “free agency” is not going to happen in anything like the fashion to which Yankee fans have been accustomed. Trades? Which declining stars do you trade? Which low A prospects? What do you expect to get for them–better prospects? undeclining stars?

        No, you’re little “Oh wait” routine is played out.

        • Ted Nelson

          Acting like the blog police was always tiresome. People are free to comment how they chose.

          The idea that the Yankees can’t add talent going forward is totally baseless.

          1. There aren’t limited prospects. See my comment below to Montero. There aren’t a ton high profile prospects in the high minors (though Banuelos is top 25 overall and Betances came into the season top 50 or 75), but a few definitely could work out. Plus Montero’s own comment about Charleston… you don’t just have to wait around to see if those guys make it. You can also trade them for cost controlled MLB players.

          The oldest guys aren’t the problem so far this season. Again, see below. To add to it… the guys struggling like Cano and Martin and Nova and Hughes largely aren’t old.

          2. $189 million will still be the largest budget in baseball in all likelihood. They have a ton of money coming off the books, and no matter their budget would have to replace those players wisely.

          3. The Yankees could not operate in any other US sport. This idea that MLB is out to get the Yankees is ridiculous. They would have already “gotten the Yankees” 20 years ago if it were football or basketball.

          The CBA impacts on the Yankees will be ~$20 million for two seasons, and then the amateur players impacts are a long ways off. Plus they are exaggerated. The Yankees can still acquire amateur talent at the same rate as any good team can.

          “No, you’re little “Oh wait” routine is played out.”

          Don’t pick a fight you’re going to get laid out in.

          “If the owners are serious, then your “free agency” is not going to happen in anything like the fashion to which Yankee fans have been accustomed.”

          It’s a two year period they have to be under right now.

          Some of the biggest FAs on the market will be Yankees. So either they can re-sign them or replace them. Cano and Granderson will be two of the biggest FAs to hit the market in the coming years if they do. Martin will be one of the best Cs to hit the market. Swisher is a high profile FA.

          I don’t know if you’ve actually looked at the numbers, but they don’t have to let all of those guys go. They can sign a Hamels instead of one if they’d like. They can probably re-sign 3 of the 4 if they’d like… maybe even all 4 if their prices stay low or they’re willing to give them an extra year and a lower AAV.

          “Trades? Which declining stars do you trade? Which low A prospects? What do you expect to get for them–better prospects? undeclining stars?”

          Are you seriously asking me to predict trades that might happen over the next 3 or 4 years? Did you predict the Granderson or Swisher trades? Javy? Berkman? Wood? There will be players available, and the Yankees do have a strong farm. Use your imagination. I can not predict who will be available at what time at what cost. I am not Miss Cleo.

          If you don’t this low minors guys have trade value, I don’t know what to tell you. Tyler Skaggs was the centerpiece of the Haren deal. Arodys was the centerpiece of the Javy deal. Singleton and Cosart were in High A when they were traded for Pence (those Low A guys will be in High A before you know it). I have no idea where you got the idea that low minors prospects aren’t traded for MLB players. Keith Law actually was saying last year that he feels low minors prospects have increased in value significantly relative to high minors guys recently.

          • TomH

            Have you taken a vacation yet this year?

            • Ted Nelson

              You ask me to answer someone else’s comment serious, and then when I go to great lengths to explain to you why the comment was not worth answering nor was yours you give a smart ass remark? Fuck you too.

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

      The hope is to be good enough to contend for 2-3 more years with our aging stars and each year slide a Banuelos or two on to the roster until the Charleston crew is ready.

      • Ted Nelson

        Plus I really don’t see their age as the problem right now. A-Rod, Jeter, Ibanez, and Jones have all held their own. Mo did get hurt and Kuroda has struggled a bit, but Pineda also got hurt and Nova/Hughes have struggled a bit.

        And on top of bringing up a few of the short-term prospects (those that earn a spot from basically Banuelos, Mustelier, Mitchell, Marshall, Betances, Warren, Romine, Zoilo, CoJo, Adams, Montgomery, Whitley?, Cabral?, Laird, Cervelli, Nunez… Phelps potentially growing his role)… there are returning injured players (Pineda, Joba, Aardsma) and either re-signing or replacing Swisher, Martin, Cano, and Granderson.

      • TomH

        Charleston is low A. Who knows how these guys will work out. Some percentage x of them are certainly going to lose their glow. I like “a Banuelos or two.”

        • Ted Nelson

          Do you really need to state the obvious here? “Prospects don’t always work out.” Thanks for your contribution to the blog Tom!

          Charleston is pretty universally regarded as one of the most prospect laden teams in MiLB. That not all those guys will work out is a given. There is still a ton of talent there. Between trades and call-ups, there’s every reason to expect an above average contribution from that group.

    • Esteban


  • OMG! Bagels!

    Klong, you’re missing a lot of work with the players

    Klong: Well, I wouldn’t say missing

  • Athenian

    Considering Cano is only hitting .136 with RISP, what are the thoughts of putting Granderson in the 3 hole. I realize he tends to strike out more but he also hits more fly balls than Cano.

    Perhaps putting Cano in the 4 spot(does have better numbers in that spot) and the singles machine ARod at 2 – although ARod at 2 might send the GIDP even higher, can’t decide.

  • http://none Ton Lon ton

    Mason Williams in right field next year

    • TomH

      How is> he doing this year?

    • Pat D

      Is that you, Duh Innings?

      No, it can’t be, he would have made seven other ridiculous statements.

  • OldYanksFan

    My Lineup would start with:

    But it doesn’t have the L/R/L/R thingy.

  • Tim

    Face it even if Pineda comes back and is the dominant SP we all thought he could be, they will have no Pettitte, no Kuroda. Hughes does not belong in the rotation, Nova, is mediocre. Banuelos may not be ready, they will be under financial constraints to get quality free agents. While the bullpen will still be superior, the starter pitching, lack of a quality catcher and with age in other areas, this team is not one that will be favored to go the distance for the forseeable future. Get ready for a few years of missing the playoffs and dwindling attendance.

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

      Once we bring up our DblH (Designated bases loaded Hitter), Ramiro Pena to lay down the bunt-we will be fine.