Aug
07

The Offensive Slumps

By

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Yankees seem like a relatively close-knit group of guys this year. They always appear to be enjoying each other’s company and whatnot in the dugout and off the field during various public functions. I don’t think the whole “25 guys, 25 cabs” theory applies to this team, just speaking as an outsider. The Yankees are so close-knit that they even slump together, as we’ve seen the offense do for stretches of time this season. There was The Great RISPFAIL Tragedy in May, and more recently a number of players have simultaneously hit the skids.

During this ugly 6-11 stretch, the Yankees have hit just .255/.313/.407 as a team and have averaged 4.4 runs per game. That’s down from their season marks of .264/.335/.458 and 4.8 runs per game. Slumps happen, they’re part of the 162-game season, but when a team plays .780 ball for nearly 50 games and suddenly hits a wall, it’s very easy to notice. Here are some of the top offenders…

PA AVG OBP SLG HR K% BB%
Mark Teixeira 41 0.147 0.244 0.235 1 31.7% 12.2%
Ichiro Suzuki 52 0.240 0.269 0.340 1 5.8% 0.0%
Curtis Granderson 84 0.205 0.262 0.372 4 37.1% 15.8%
Nick Swisher 114 0.213 0.342 0.319 2 30.7% 15.8%

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and to a slightly lesser extent Raul Ibanez have been carrying their weight during this slide, but otherwise that’s basically half the lineup in some kind of slump. Teixeira’s coincides with his wrist injury (fun!), Ichiro‘s with his arrival in the Bronx. He was supposed to be a platoon player but has instead started every game the Yankees have played since being acquired. So much for that platoon idea.

Now, this is the definition of arbitrary endpoints here. You go back as far as the data lets you prove your point and then stop right there, the laziest kind of “analysis” out there. Teixeira’s is slightly less arbitrary because of the injury, but whatever. The point is that there are a number of players in the lineup right now who just aren’t performing as well as they usually do regardless of how long it’s been going on, and it’s contributing to the losing. Ichiro might not snap out of it because he’s 38 years old and rarely hits anything with authority, but Granderson and Swisher should get themselves right in due time and hopefully Teixeira will do the same as he gets further away from the wrist problem.

As poorly as Ivan Nova pitched yesterday, the Yankees still only mustered two unearned runs against Justin Verlander. He’s a great pitcher and all but the Yankees have gotten to him before, including twice this season. There was no way the team was going to continue to play .780 ball through the end of the season, but the Bombers have lost some very winnable one-run games during this stretch because nearly half the lineup — including three key top-five hitters in the batting order — just haven’t been themselves. I suppose that’s just the natural order of baseball’s balancing act.

Categories : Offense
  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    Mike, I usually love your analysis articles, but seriously…this is the most words I’ve ever seen used to say “baseball is a long season and individuals, and teams, go through slumps through out it.”

    • Gonzo

      Needs more moneyblog!

  • cashmoney

    Martin has been remarkably consistent through out the whole season. My take on the offense is that this team has lot of mistake and aging hitters and obviously are going through a bad stretch. PS is reasonably assured so we ride it out? Post season is a crap shoot so we hope for the best?

  • Mark L.

    Granderson is a serviceable centerfielder and plus baserunner with 40-HR power in Yankee Stadium. This is an exceptionally rare and valuable skill set. Having said all of that, his strikeouts are starting to get a little tiresome. I see Granderson’s next 4-5 seasons as him being something of a lefty version of Mike Cameron, albeit with inferior defense. There is certainly value there, but probably not the $80 – 100 million Granderson will ask for following 2013.

    • http://yankeesblogtbnl.blogspot.com Derek

      Personally I let Grandy go at the end of next season. Not because I don’t like him, but I don’t think his skillset is worth the money, like you said.

      He strikes out too much, his centerfield play has deteriorated (see the Ciriaco play a few weeks ago as prime example). He commonly takes strange routes to balls in the gap, and his UZR reflects this.

      His redeeming qualities are his power and the amount he gets on base thanks to a high walk rate. He’ll probably be a 30-40 HR player over the next few seasons, but is the rest worth it? Maybe a swap with Gardner position-wise could be beneficial to his defense.

      The real issue will be this aging lineup with A-Rod, Jeter, etc. being well past their primes. It may be why the Yankees have to consider unloading the farm for a Justin Upton type guy.

      • Kosmo

        I seriously doubt NY will re-sign Granderson after the 2013. He´ll be 33 in 2014 just not someone you want to give a long term contract to. Even a 3 year deal at that time seems extravagant.
        Folks on here always point to his power and walk totals as some sort of saving grace. He sometimes will draw a walk(or K´s) when a tweener would be more in order. Granderson has a .300 average in innings 1 thru 3 and then something like a .215 average in innings 4-9 His K totals are just pitiful and his ave. vs. LHP is now in the low .230s. I thought he was “fixed“ by Klong ?
        He´s currently hitting .243.
        I would even go so far as to trade him this off season while his stock is relatively high, if in fact it still is.

        xcuse me for the rant.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          112 wRC+ vs. LHP this season (which has fallen from the 120′s in his recent slump)
          KLong transformed him from a player who probably should have been platooned and was routinely well below average offensively vs. LHP to steadily above average offensively vs. LHP. That was a major transformation.

          • Kosmo

            he´s hitting .231 vs LHP !!!!! A transformation ???? What bullshit is that. So he displays more power vs. LHP. nothing above average about a .230 hitter.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting

              Sure. If you believe walks have no value at all and singles are as valuable as home runs. 112 wRC+ means 12% above league average. Last year 151 wRC+ vs. LHP, or 51% above league average. His last season in Detroit: 24 wRC+ vs. LHP, or 76% below league average. Major transformation.

            • Jim Is Bored

              Oh please, are we still living in the 70s? Using batting average to explain how good of a hitter someone is?

              • Kosmo

                I believe it is. If Jeter was a .240 hitter he never would have been the Starting SS for the Yanks.

                • Need Pitching & Hitting

                  Possibly. His walk rate and power aren’t really enough to offset the low average. With Granderson, his OBP and power are plenty good to offset the low average. There is more than one way to be productive offensively. A good average is certainly nice, but it isn’t everything. You have to consider the total contributions, not just one limited stat with no context.

                  • Kosmo

                    I agree but taking Granderson´s game as a whole I´d have to say that to me disappointment is the key word. He Ks in important moments in games especially late in games, his slight D decline. Overall I don´t think he´s a great player or even a consistently good one.

                    • Need Pitching & Hitting

                      He definitely hasn’t been great this year. He’s been good overall offensively, and bad defensively. He really should be moved to corner OF next year, where he would make a good, above average, power hitting, corner OF.

                  • Stan the Man

                    I love how people try to make excuses or stretch out stats to say Granderson is a good player. He doesn’t steal anymore so his baserunning is useless to talk about. He hits HR’s but if he didn’t do that he wouldn’t be in the majors since he brings no value on defense and strikes out entirely too much to be considered a good hitter. When the trade was made for Grandy people on this site and other’s downplayed Grandy’s K’s and claimed Jackson’s K’s were a problem, it seems like Jackson has actually learned how to hit while Granderson just pulls balls in RF at Yankee Stadium which to be honest isn’t that hard to do. When you rate this guy you have to come to the conclusion that he won’t be a CF much longer and if he can’t be an asset in the field then you can easily replace his bat.

            • DT

              He also has hit 9 home runs and has a .800 OPS versus lefties…compared to his career of .700 OPS versus lefties…that’s a HUGE improvement.

              • Kosmo

                He´s still a .230 hitter career wise vs. LHP. So he displays more power vs. LHP.

                • Need Pitching & Hitting

                  career: 227/294/404 (and the avg would be much lower if not for his performance since being “fixed”)
                  this year: 231/329/463
                  last year with Detroit: 183/245/239

                  Massive improvement. Better AVG, making much fewer outs, and hitting for more power.

      • TomH

        As for a “Justin Upton type guy,” I agree: if it’s NOT this year’s version of the guy” or if it’s clear (but who could know this?) that the current version is just an aberration.

        “…I WOULD let Grandy go….” Otherwise it sounds like ESPioNics.

    • cashmoney

      Yanks might want to avoid giving another lengthy mega deal to players whose best years might be behind him. I think that applies to Cano and Granderson.

  • Jon

    K% for granderson does not seem right to me, looking back at the season as a whole and he Ks in about 30% of his ABs.

  • Jon

    Is it supposed to be 37.1% for grandersons K%? That seems way more in line with doing a quick look at his stats

    • Heisenberg’s Hat

      Yeah, I wish it was 7% but I think it’s a typo.

  • Evan3457

    As for the slumps in general, I have no idea, but as for last night…

    If Verlander has good stuff, that creates a difficult task for the offense. If the ump chooses to make the plate 24 inches wide by adding 4-6 inches to the outside corner to lefties, and the Yanks’ offensive game is based on working the count, then for that night, the task becomes all but impossible.

  • blake

    3 guys in the lineup last night hitting above .260. BA isnt everything but its become somewhat under rated IMO….you have to be able to get hits to win baseball games consistently because sometimes pitchers dont walk you and sometimes you cant hit enough homers.

    There is a lot of narrative to the “too many homers” stuff…..but there is a grain of truth to it as well….maybe a better way to state it wouldnt be “too many homers” …cause you can never have too many homers…..its just too little of thr other ways to score runs.

    • Eddard

      They are winning ballgames consistently. Tied for best record in the AL and lead the division by 6 games. Two of their recent losses were to the best pitchers in the AL.

      • Heisenberg’s Hat

        The one thing this team has NOT done all year is win ballgames consistently. They are very, very streaky.

        • RetroRob

          All teams are that way. It’s baseball.

          • Heisenberg’s Hat

            Every team has wins and losses, sure that’s to be expected.
            But this Yankees team has alternately looked like world-beaters OR completely awful. More so than usual.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Every team looks like that. I should have a link to that 2009 series against the Nationals saved on my clipboard at all times.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              And moreso like world-beaters. Note that extended period of time with the ~.780 winning percentage. This is, of course, no guarantee that they’ll be that team in the playoffs, but a team that simply plays consistent ball has no guarantee that they won’t lose 3 of 5 either.

            • Jim Is Bored

              All teams do that. When you win, you’re worldbeaters. When you lose, you’re awful.

              I live in the DC/Baltimore area and the Orioles/Nats fans say literally the same thing.

              It’s baseball.

              • TomH

                Not so. There may be “streaks” across the board, but the sign of a great team (1927, 1937, 1939, 1961, ’77, ’98 etc.) is that the losing streaks are minimized.

                Or, to put it another way, yes, there is streakiness in baseball as part of the game. But give me .702 streakiness (1939) rather than .583 streakiness.

      • blake

        sure….but what I’m saying has nothing to do with the last 3 games. Felix and Verlander would have dominated any team…..it’s more about the way the offense is trending and whether they will be able to score enough to win enough to win playoff games.

        The Yankees have scored 523 runs this year…..that’s 3rd best in the AL but it’s only the 2nd time in the last decade they have failed to score 550 runs this late in the season. The only other year….2008.

        The offense is still good….but has become more one dimensional and there is nearly as much separation between them and other teams as there used to be…..which means they’ll really need to pitch well to make up for it.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          And for the most part, the pitching has made up for it. Note the winning percentage over the course of the season, which includes a (relatively) poor start and a recent slow stretch.

  • RetroRob

    4.4 runs per game is down, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s not as if they’re scoring three runs a game. It should translate into better than a 6-11 stretch. That is, unless the pitching has been spotty too. (Looking at you, Mr. Nova). Running up against King Felix and Justin Verlander both pitching at top form are speed bumps and not really annoying. (And to those of you operating under the myth that the Yankees can’t beat good pitching, they’re actually 3-3 this year when facing those two pitchers.)

    The loss of A-Rod has created some lefty-righty balance challenges, but the Chavez/Nix combo has been solid to the point where it’s questionable if A-Rod would be doing any better. That’s not something I count on longterm, so the quicker A-Rod can return the better, but it really hasn’t been impacting the offense.

    Hitting slighty down. Pitching spotty. Some bad luck in one-run games. Running across perhaps the game’s two best pitchers at top form. That collectively results in a bad run. It will correct.

    • TomH

      ARod’s presence/absence is more than merely a matter of whether he “would be doing any better.” He probably would be, but, more to the point, his mere presence changes the dynamics of the game situation much more dramatically than does that of Chavez/Nix: BECAUSE of his reputation. It will take a year more, maybe two, of less-than-ARod performing before his aura disappears and puts him in the position Dimaggio seems to have been in in 1951 (see the Sport magazine publication of the Dodgers’ scouting report on Dimag–a real blow to the Clipper’s ego, some have said). Pitchers will show a respect for ARod still that translates into pitching decisions for the guys ahead of him. The lineup is significantly “longer” with ARod than with Nix/Chavez.

      The Yanks just aren’t the same team with him out of the lineup. Current stats still matter less, re ARod, than do old stats.

  • Darren

    If the Yankees lose in the first round, would anything surprise you less than if it was because of a failure to hit, in the clutch or otherwise?

    • gc

      No. Nor would I be surprised if those were the reasons any other team lost in the first round.

    • Eddard

      No. The first round is such a crapshoot. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we ran up against the White Sox and they beat us. They’re only 3 games back of us. Same with the Tigers or Angels who could very easily beat us in a 5 game series. That’s just the way the playoffs are, it’s all about getting hot at the right time. Better to have these slumps now than October.

    • jjyank

      Well if they get knocked out, it’s probably a 50% chance that they didn’t hit enough. So no, I won’t be surprised. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they hit the snot out of the ball.

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

      Almost every loss ever is due to a lack of big hits.

      • blake

        so cheer for clutchness!

    • DT

      It’ll be Arod’s fault

    • TomH

      Learn from the responses below! All losses come from non hitting. All teams face a crapshoot in rnd 1. There’s a 50% chance they won’t hit (but a 50% chance they will).

      So, hell, man, why worry. The Yanks needn’t worry. They’re sitting pretty. What a fantastic team.

      Numbers make people blind.

  • blake

    I think the Yankees can win it all with what they have….but I think they’ll really need to pitch well and have Cano to have a big post season….he’s the guy that can damage all kinds of pitching….

    I guess every club can go in saying that we need to pitch well and have our best player perform….but I’m a Yankee fan and I want an advantage……If loving to win is wrong….I don’t wanna be right.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Not naming any names but when you look at that third strike with men on base without lifting your bat, it looks awful. If you make a stab at it you might sneak one through. This has been happening a lot this season. You just cannot hit a ball if you don’t swing at it.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      When Hank Aaron was asked what he looked for while at the plate he responded that he looked for a round white ball and if it was near the plate he would try to hit it.

      • TomH

        Musial: “wait for a good pitch and hit the shit out of it.”

    • Jim Is Bored

      You also can’t walk if you swing.

  • The Real Greg

    Even though the National League got beaten down in interleague play, I actually think they are the more quality league this year.

    Every competing AL team has a glaring problem. So the Yankees are not in bad position in that regard.

    The Cincinnati Reds, IMO are the best and most complete team in baseball.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Every single NL team has problems too.

      The Braves rotation, while coming together, is still a puzzle and that lineup is meh at best.

      The Nats back end of the pen has looked shaky lately and their lineup still scares no one.

      The Pirates are finally hitting at an average pace, but some of their pitchers are still begging for regression(although McDonald has probably already had his fair share).

      The Dodgers and Giants struggle to score runs.

      If you want to know the NL teams’ glaring problems, visit their blogs. Their commenters will gladly point them out to you.

      • The Real Greg

        Begging for regression isn’t exactly a glaring problem because all teams are subjected to it.

        • Jim Is Bored

          OK so the one team you don’t think has weaknesses is the Pirates. Given that you responded to nothing else in my post.

          • Jim Is Bored

            And just so we’re clear, that means you’re ok with a playoff top 4 of:

            James McDonald
            Wandy Rodriguez
            AJ Burnett
            Erik Bedard/Jeff Karstens

            • The Real Greg

              No I said the Reds are the most complete team in baseball.

              There are a few weaknesses with the Pirates.

              Experience under pressure and their reliance on Andrew McCutchen

              • Jim Is Bored

                Outside of Cueto, who do you like in that rotation?

                Bailey? Latos? Leake? Arroyo?

                They basically have an Ace and 4 #4′s, right now. Although Latos has been better as of late.

                • The Real Greg

                  Cueto and Latos are a good 1-2 combination

                  Arroyo is the veteran presence who was bad in the postseason in AL play, but had a a good postseason start against the Phillies in 2010.

                  Bailey is basically Phil Hughes for them

                  Leake is the number 5 starter.

                  • Jim Is Bored

                    You’re banking on someone who had one good postseason start but over his career has pitched to a 4.27 era in the postseason.

                    Latos has pitched to a 4 era this year. Latos/Bailey are both basically Hughes/Nova. They don’t have a Kuroda.

                    You really want to ignore the rest of Arroyo’s starts in favor of ONE. That’s a sign I need to stop talking to you and point you to the Red Reporter. There you can find the doomsayers you are looking for.

                    • The Real Greg

                      For Arroyo, One start IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE.

                      Latos had a bad start which is why his ERA is so high.

                • Kosmo

                  that is bullshit. Latos is a number 1 or 2 SP. So he got off to a slow start. he´s certainly not a number 4. I would match the Reds rotation vs. with anyones in the postseason.

                  • The Real Greg

                    And they have been rolling recently WITHOUT their best hitter, Joey Votto.

                  • Jim Is Bored

                    The Nationals are laughing at you.

                  • Jim Is Bored

                    Cueto: 2.52/3.05/3.68
                    Latos: 3.94/4.22/3.89
                    Bailey: 3.98/4.38/4.28
                    Leake: 4.51/4.23/3.67
                    Arroyo:4.05/4.25/4.19

                    Strasburg: 2.97/2.69/2.71
                    Gonzalez: 3.34/2.69/3.16
                    Zimmerman: 2.45/3.40/3.64
                    Edwin Jackson: 3.56/4.14/4.07
                    Detwiler: 3.02/3.68/4.14

                    You’d match up the Reds against a team on which literally every starter would be a 1 or 2 on the Reds staff?

                    • Jim Is Bored

                      Even with Strasburg sidelined, the next 4 are STILL head and shoulders above the Reds top 4.

                      Head and shoulders above basically every other rotation in baseball’s top 4.

                    • The Real Greg

                      You cant put Strasburg in there. They’re going to shut him down.

                    • Jim Is Bored

                      Dude you are really good at ignoring the real point of a comment. Read the one above yours re: Strasburg being shut down.

                      Zimmerman is equal to Cueto. Gio/Edwin/Detwiler are unquestionable better than Latos/Bailey/Arroyo.

                    • Jim Is Bored

                      And i’m done. Arguing with you is pointless. At least you aren’t dalelama.

                    • The Real Greg

                      And by the way, you are putting bets down on Edwin Jackson, a guy with a 4.91 ERA in the postseason?

      • TomH

        The Pirates are finally hitting at an average pace, but some of their pitchers are still begging for regression(although McDonald has probably already had his fair share).

        Is there a statistical law that says this begged-for regression must occur during the CURRENT season?

    • Kosmo

      Greg I think in 2012 the leagues are just about equal in terms of product but I would say some of the NL teams are vastly improved, the Reds, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants and Nats to name a few. In the AL maybe the As and the Os are somewhat better.

  • Tomm

    Mark Teixeira is a vastly overpaid player and never gets criticized as such. Why is that? Watching Teixeira hit tough righties is 180 million dollars worth of existentialism.

    • Heisenberg’s Hat

      You’re right, no one ever criticizes Tex.