Aug
22

Jeter, Chavez, Swisher leading offensive surge

By

When Derek Jeter took Fransisco Liriano’s first pitch over the wall in left field, it was not only his fourth leadoff homer of the year, but also his fourth home run since the All-Star break. That’s no small accomplishment, considering the 162 PA sample. In fact, Jeter’s second half as a whole had led the way for the Yankees offense.

Even though they’ve slowed the pace a bit since coming back from the break, going 20-18 against a 52-33 first-half record, little blame lies with the offense. They’ve improved a bit in terms of sheer numbers, a 120 sOPS+ vs. a 118 sOPS+ in the first half, and they’ve scored a few more runs, too: 5.16 vs. 4.85 per game. Much of that production comes from Jeter.

His .366 batting average leads the team by almost 50 points; the next closest is Alex Rodriguez, who got just 50 PA before Felix Hernandez hit him in the hand. He’s five OBP points behind Nick Swisher and 54 SLG points behind Eric Chavez, both of whom lead the team in those categories. But at 162 PA he has nearly double the number of Chavez, and has 33 more than Swisher (while having better numbers overall).

That isn’t to knock on either Chavez or Swisher. They’ve worked alongside Jeter to create a significant portion of the second half offense. Swisher in particular has been an enormous help. He got off to an awfully slow start, hitting .262/.336/.477 in the first half. Since the four-day vacation he’s hit .294/.403/.495, good for the third-highest OPS on the team. That turn around, and his placement behind Jeter in the order, has given the middle of the order plenty of opportunities to score runs.

Chavez has done his part to drive in those runners, producing a .949 second-half OPS, including six homers, after producing a totally respectable .839 OPS in the first half. The wrinkle is that he’s started only 21 games, so his impact has been limited. Despite those six homers and generally torrid production, along with his ascension in the batting order, he has driven in just 13 runs in the second half. For comparison, that’s as many runs as Ichiro has driven in for the Yankees during that very same span.

(While it’s not remarkable compared to expectations, Mark Teixeira has hit .282/.348/.530 in the second half. He’s not back to where the Yankees need him to be, but it does seem that he’s been rounding into form even with the wrist issue. Since his breather weekend against the Reds he’s hitting .277/.366/.546.)

If Robinson Cano weren’t mired in such a slump perhaps the Yankees would have scored even more runs in the past few weeks. He’s at just .285/.355/.438 since the break — not bad, but his recent 5 for 32 stretch, with no extra base hits, has hurt a bit. (Or has it? The Yankees are 6-4 in that span.) With Jeter and Swisher getting on base frequently, a streaking Cano can make a huge difference. With those top four hitting, and with Chavez often hitting fifth, that’s a pretty potent top of the order.

As it did at points in the first half, it seems the Yankees are playing well but having trouble firing on all cylinders. Once they get that going, the offense should continue rolling along. Now, if they can only find some consistence in the pitching.

Categories : Offense

23 Comments»

  1. Eddard says:

    We have, on this ballclub, two valid MVP candidates(Robbie Cano and Derek Jeter), Cy Young candidate(Hiroki Kuroda), Comeback POY candidate(Eric Chavez). Trout will win ROY but we have legit chances at the other awards. The reason they’re playing at a .500 record is because of the starting pitching. CC and Andy have been out and Hughes and Nova have not stepped up like we need them to. Our hopes hinge on CC and Andy returning to form by October.

    • jjyank says:

      I can’t believe you commented on this thread without proclaiming Chavez as the greatest free agent signing in Cashman’s career.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      Jeter’s an MVP candidate? hahaha.

      • Darren says:

        You can laugh all you want, but Jetere is in fact an MVP candidate according to the Chicago Tribune. And that writer has a vote, and you don’t. Neither does RAB.

        http://articles.chicagotribune.....ez-yankees

        And I think if you can say that anyone who gets MVP votes is a candidate, then hell yeah he’s a candidate. If the Angels and Tigers miss out and Jeter gets a little hotter and carries the team even more, then he SHOULD win it.

        • Eddard says:

          Couldn’t agree more with you, Darren. Jeter IS an MVP candidate. Should a player win MVP if his club fails to make the postseason, and in this case an expanded postseason? Absolutely not. If the Angels don’t get there then that opens the door for two guys who carried their team to a division crown, and the toughest division crown at that.

  2. jack says:

    I guess phelps can take his spot in the bullpen even though he is better than both Freddy and nova.

  3. jjyank says:

    These three have been awesome. Chvez has been a pleasant surprise, Jeter’s defying of Father Time is awesome to see, and Swish has been hot as hell lately. He’s had quite a few hits that ended up as the difference in the game lately. Now if only the pitching (and Robbie and Grandy) would click into gear.

  4. kenthadley says:

    Cano is having Melky Sympathy Pains….hope he doesn’t use the same doctor.

  5. Rich in NJ says:

    Jeter is one of the few hitters on the team that hit for AVG. On a team with too many hitters who don’t, despite the HR and BB, that’s huge. The Yankees need more hitters that can hit for AVG.

    • Eddard says:

      I agree! That’s why the Ichiro pickup was so huge. And why you can’t sit Chavy’s bat in October. I’d probably play Ichiro in LF and have Ibanez come off the bench as a PH if they need some pop.

    • Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW) says:

      LOL

  6. moonimus says:

    Doesn’t OBP still trump BAvg? In any case, if Cano and Granderson can get back to being themselves, the offensive output should still remain gaudy. If A-rod can get the bat going just in time for the playoffs we could put up a lot of crooked numbers.

    I am not concerned about the offense but more worried about how our starters compare to the plaoyff bound rotations. I am also concerned about the bullpen even though the last few guys in the pen should see little action deep into October.

    Of course, we need to get there first. Plenty of baseball left to play in the regular season and that 4 game lead feels shaky right now.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Doesn’t OBP still trump BAvg?

      IMO it does.

      I would rather have a player w/ a .250 BA and a .400 OBP than a player w/ a .325 BA and a .350 OBP.

      (Of course the slugging pct. could change that. For example, I would prefer a 325/350/550 hitter to a 250/400/450 hitter. But IMO, 250/400/550 is better than 325/350/450.)

      • jjyank says:

        Absolutely. I mean, OBP doesn’t trump BA in all situations (meaning a walk won’t score a runner from second), but in an overall picture, I take the higher OBP almost every time when evaluatiing a player.

        • Sweet Dick Willie says:

          If you’re just talking BA vs OBP, I’ll take OBP everytime, because BA only tells you the percentage of time a player got a hit; it doesn’t tell you what kind of hit (big difference between an infield single and a HR) and it doesn’t tell you how often the player made an out (huge difference between 325/350 and 325/425).

          And while OBP doesn’t tell you what kind of hit either, it does tell the percentage of successful ABs, i.e., the percentage of ABs that the batter preserved one of the precious 27.

      • Ed says:

        Of course, those are the easy calls.

        For a harder call, do you prefer the 2009 or 2010 version of Nick Swisher? 2009: .249 AVG .371 OBP vs 2010: .288 AVG .359 OBP. It’s not as simple.

        A walk is often as good as a hit, but not always. It’s hard to score from second or go first to third on a walk. Because of that, I’d prefer the 2010 version.

        • Sweet Dick Willie says:

          Eh, those years were statistically almost the same.

          I can see an argument for either one.

        • jjyank says:

          That’s what I was trying to say above. Would you rather have a .270.380 hitter, or a .290/360? I love me some OBP, but I do think there is some OBP I would sacrifice for BA.

          • Sweet Dick Willie says:

            The only way I would sacrifice OBP for BA is if it’s totally disproportionate; I would prefer 325/350 to 250/360.

            In your example above, I would take 270/380 over 290/360 every time (provided the slugging was the same).

            • jjyank says:

              I think there are more factors though. Where does this player hit in the lineup? Are there constantly high OBP guys in front of him? Then I think I’d take the BA guy. I’d rather knock in the runner on third than take a walk there. But if we’re talking about a table setter and/or a speed guy, OBP all the way.

              I just don’t think it’s all so black and white, context matters.

              • Kip Raymo says:

                JJyank your line:

                “I just don’t think it’s all so black and white, context matters.” is so true.

                Jeter .382 OBP as a lead-off hitter (Life time)
                A-Rod.385 OBP as a #4 power hitter (Life time)
                As a lead-off hitter with over 3,000 hits, one would think Jeter would have a good OBP but, not so.

                Context is the key word in JJyanks line!

                Jeter is used as an example only, the same with A-Rod!

  7. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    During the All Star break I started to consider the second record the Yanks needed to win the Division than a wild card berth. The Yanks would have about 91 wins if the Yanks played .500 in the second half but who knew CC would go down again. Nova and Hughes would be as inconsistent in their pitching. But 91 wins may put us a little shy of the needed total of about 95/97.

    Presently two above .500 makes us at 93. Some how some way we need to pickup 2 to 4 more for the lock. I never expected Baltimore to continue their good play or the Rays to start hitting or sweep everybody in sight.

    As far as Jeter, Chavez and Swisher they are paying well. I don’t think the team will gel into playing great all at one time but if I had my wish it would be for CC, Andy and Kuroda to be lights out. And the offense to plot along as usual if I could not have the whole ball of wax.

    CC and Andy will have to come back real strong. Considering Andy hasn’t pitched in two months this could be a problem but considering Nova and Hughes pitching. Andy may be a better option. This AL East is some division with three solid teams in competition for the playoffs.

  8. Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW) says:

    It seems to me that Swish might slump when everyone else is hot, but he gets hot when everyone else is shitting the bed. I could be wrong, but seem to remember that over the last few years. He’s gotten them through a few rough patches almost single handedly. But I could be ‘misremembering’.

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