What Went Wrong: Postseason Offense


Over the next few weeks we’re going to spend some time reviewing the entire 2012 season, which featured another division title and unfortunately another disappointing playoff exit.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

There is still baseball being played but the Yankees are not involved in any of it. They were bounced from the postseason in an embarrassing four-game sweep by the Tigers in the ALCS last week, a very one-sided series that featured little offense by New York. They scored six runs in the four games and never once held a lead, which is unthinkable for an offense that led the AL in homers (245), ISO (.188), OBP (.337), SLG (.453), OPS (.790), wOBA (.342), and wRC+ (113). Everything that could have gone wrong offensively did.

All told, the Yankees hit just .188/.254/.303 in their nine postseason games, the lowest batting average in history by a team who played at least seven playoff games. It wasn’t just the ALCS either, they had a hard time scoring in the ALDS even though they won the series. The so-called Bombers scored just 22 runs in the nine games, and nine of those runs came in two innings — five in the ninth inning of ALDS Game One and four in the ninth inning of ALCS Game One. After scoring those four runs off Jose Valverde in Game One last Saturday, the Yankees scored just two runs on ten hits in the final 30.1 innings of their season.

Offensive ineptitude of this caliber requires a total team effort. Ichiro Suzuki was a singles machine in the postseason and Derek Jeter did is part before going down with a fractured ankle in ALCS Game One, plus Raul Ibanez hit enough jaw-droppingly clutch homers to avoid any criticism. The rest of the lineup? Not so much.

Robinson Cano
Of all the offensive failure, Cano’s miserable postseason was by far the most surprising. He was once again the team’s best hitter during the year and he finished the regular season on an insane hot streak (24-for-39, .615), but he was invisible in the playoffs. Cano doubled in two runs in that big ninth inning off Jim Johnson in ALDS Game One and he doubled in a run in the first inning of ALDS Game Two, and that was pretty much it. He fell into a hideous 0-for-29 slide that featured weak grounder after weak grounder, and it wasn’t until the ninth inning of ALCS Game Three that he got off the schneid with a line drive single to left.

Robbie reached base four times in 41 postseason plate appearances, adding an intentional walk to those two ALDS doubles and ALCS single. His .098 OBP is the lowest in playoff history (min. 35 PA) while his .075 AVG is the fourth lowest. Cano has had an up-and-down playoff career but this kind of ineffectiveness was unthinkable. He was, by far, the biggest drain on the team’s offense. There’s no doubt about it.

(Alex Trautwig/Getty)

Alex Rodriguez & Eric Chavez
I’m going to lump these two together because they shared third base duties during the postseason. A-Rod struggled after coming off the DL in September and it carried over into the postseason, as he went 1-for 12 with seven strikeouts in the first three games of the ALDS. Things got so bad that Joe Girardi famously lifted Alex for a pinch-hitter in ALDS Game Three, leading to two of those memorable Ibanez homers (first the game-tying shot, then the game-winner in extra innings).

A-Rod did not start the decisive Game Five of the ALDS and did not start the final two games of the ALCS. He started six of nine playoff games but did not finish three, instead being lifted for pinch-hitters against right-handed pitchers late and for good reason — Alex went 0-for-18 with a dozen strikeouts against same-side hitters in the postseason. All told, he had three singles and two walks against those 12 strikeouts in 27 playoff appearances.

The decision to lift A-Rod for pinch-hitters or outright bench him against righties was completely justifiable due to his performance, but Chavez didn’t exactly force the issue. He failed to reach base in 17 playoff plate appearances, striking out nine times. All told, the Yankees received an .086/.135/.086 batting line out of their third basemen in 37 postseason plate appearances. A-Rod drew the boos and got all the media attention,  but he wasn’t even the worst performer at his own position.

Nick Swisher
Unfortunately poor postseasons became a routine during Swisher’s stint in New York, a stint that will almost surely end after four years this winter. He opened these playoffs with a very productive ALDS Game One, drawing two walks to go along with a single and a sacrifice fly. After that, he went 2-for-28 (.071) with a walk and nine strikeouts the rest of the way. One of those hits was a run-scoring double in ALCS Game Four, which had zero impact in the grand scheme of things. Swisher hit .167/.235/.233 in the team’s nine playoff games and will likely leave the Yankees with a .162/.252/.308 batting line in 148 postseason plate appearances with the club.

Curtis Granderson
Granderson came into the year as a postseason monster, with a .267/.375/.535 overall playoff batting line and a .313/.459/.583 playoff line with the Yankees. He was instead a non-factor this year, going just 3-for-30 (.100) with one homer and three walks (one intentional) in the nine postseason games. Two of those hits came in consecutive at-bats in ALDS Game Five. Like Swisher, he was benched for one ALCS game in favor of Brett Gardner. Curtis struck out an insane 16 times in 33 playoff plate appearances, so basically half the time. It’s impossible to be productive when you don’t put the ball in play, and Granderson’s strikeout issues became extreme in October.

Russell Martin
Unlike the other guys in the post, Martin at least had a signature moment this postseason. He hit the go-ahead homer off Johnson in the ninth inning of ALDS Game One, a hugely clutch shot that gets forgotten because the Yankees went on score another four runs in the inning to turn the game into a laugher. It was a big homer, don’t forget it. That said, Martin went just 5-for-31 (.161) with the homer, a double, and three walks in the postseason (.235 OBP). He reached base twice in the ALCS and three times in the team’s final six playoff games. Martin was up and down all season (mostly down), and outside of the homer he was contributed little to a postseason offense that needed substantially more from these six players.

Categories : Offense, Playoffs


  1. Eddard says:

    There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way the Yankees are doing business and it starts with the offensive philosophy. All season long the Yankees couldn’t hit with RISP and people kept saying it’ll correct itself and the Yankees will be just fine in the postseason.

    Except the principles that had been taught over and over again by Kevin Long carried over to the postseason. When the team needed a single, a simple fly ball or groundball they couldn’t get it to get a run. Russell Martin swung for the heavens on a 2-0 count when a single wins Game 1 vs Detroit and that changes the whole series around.

    The steroid era is over. The boom or bust, HR or K era is over. Everyone else has realized this. The postseason is all about starting pitching and clutch hitting. It was a shame to waste that great starting pitching that we didn’t have in the mid 00s. The offensive philosophy needs to change. No more HR drills with Kevin Long tossing up BP just so the left handers can see how far they can hit the ball. Focus on making contact. Make contact and good things will happen.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Chris Dickerson: Player/manager, or player/manager/hitting coach?

      • Eddard says:

        I’d have Dickerson as a 4th OF. Gardner in CF, Ichiro in RF, and if they can’t trade Granderson stick him in LF where he can’t do as much damage.

        Hitting coach I’d fire Long and hire Paulie O’Neill. Now there’s a guy who knows how to hit. You hear him on the YES broadcasts break down what hitters are doing wrong. He’d be a great hire and definitely wouldn’t preach HR or bust.

      • Murderers' Row Boat says:

        I, for one, am already planning to visit Opening Day at the stadium to see the new Chris Dickerson plaque in Monument Park.

    • CP says:

      All season long the Yankees couldn’t hit with RISP and people kept saying it’ll correct itself and the Yankees will be just fine in the postseason.

      Overall: .265/.337/.453/.790
      RISP: .256/.352/.436/.788

      Hmmmm…. it looks like they hit almost exactly as well with RISP as they did overall.

      And the post season problems were not issues with hitting with RISP. The problem was that they didn’t hit at all. It actually would have been reassuring to have seen them get some runners into scoring position.

      • MannyGeee Machete says:

        screw you and your facts. You are single-handedly trying to kill the narrative with sense and logic. dick

    • Chip Off the Ol'Knoblauch says:

      If leading the league in offense, missing the postseason once in the last 16 years, and being one of the most profitable sports franchises in the world is fundementally wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  2. Robinson Tilapia says:

    aka “the happiest thread in RAB history, post-2008 edition.”

  3. 0 for infinity and beyond says:

    God Lord, wrong does not give that postseason it’s due justice. More like what went Horrible, Horrible, hide the women and children, go see your local priest or rabbi wrong

  4. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    What hurts the most is that for the most part, they got great performances from their pitching staff and had they just hit a little, they could have easily made the WS.

  5. Thunder Road Runner says:

    I think Kevin Long might get fired though he certainly doesn’t deserve it. How do you get through to overpaid millionaires who are lazy (Cano), egotists (A-Rod), or rock-heads (Swisher). LOL, I heard they sent Granderson for an eye exam. Maybe someone should’ve done that sooner!

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      Long may not deserve to be fired but he was lauded as a hitting guru when he “transformed” Granderson to be able to hit lefties a year and a half ago so he should be held as least somewhat accountable for this total offensive collapse.

      Even Girardi questioned the Yankees hitters approach at the plate and that’s something that falls on the hitting coach.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Actually, they sent him last year as well. This season marked the first time he ever wore contact lenses.

      No clue what to say there, as I literally know nothing about Curtis Granderson’s eyesight to give any opinion on whether that would make a difference.

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      Beatings. The beating will continue until RISPFail ends :)

    • DT says:

      Right Cano is lazy that’s why he’s one of the best hitters in baseball even if he did have a miserable postseason. Also if you knew anything ARod and Long have been working together greatly over the past years. ARod even appeared in a few of Long’s training videos. I highly doubt ego is preventing him hitting or listening to the guy who he’s had a great relationship with.

  6. JLC 776 says:

    Which is/will be worse – the Yankees post-season offensive woes or the immediate ‘Yankees must change EVERYTHING’ reaction from the sports journalism world (ESPN, SI, etc – not blogs such as RAB)?

    As bad as the games were, a complete overreaction is just as dangerous. I trust the 162 game sample size much more than the 9 game one and the conclusions that are bouncing around in my head are more of the variety that only subtle changes are necessary going forward.

    I would love to see some kind of shift back to a philosophy that doesn’t seem to rely as much on the long ball. I think losing Gardner for the year hurt that approach (and releasing Wise for that matter), but having Gardy and maybe one more line-to-line hitter on the team would help a lot.

    The team also seems to be one of those rare teams that completely feeds off of itself. They all hit or almost no one does. We saw that earlier in the season and then again in August and October. It’s probably coincidence, but who knows what goes on inside of people’s heads.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      I agree with your point that the offense needs to become more versatile and less dependent on homers. I also think losing Gardner hurt and he should be the regular CFer next year with Granderson in left.

      I also don’t think the FO should overreact and tear the whole team apart but I also don’t think you can just bring the entire team back and hope for the best because there are some major weaknesses on this team.

      Many of the key players on this team are already on the downward slope of their career like Teix, CC, Arod and Jeter. You have your starting SS coming off of ankle surgery at age 39 and a closer coming off of an ACL reconstruction at age 43. If they come back, Pettitte will be 41 and Kuroda 38 and coming off a career high in innings pitched. CC likely will be coming off of a minor (hopefully) elbow surgery. Swisher is a goner and his replacement almost certainly won’t be as good a player. Soriano is gone too. This team has more uncertainties than I can recall a Yankee team having in many years.

      • JLC 776 says:

        Completely agree…

        I’m amazed every year when the older players still manage to keep up and the team actually looks good (and, frankly, the team has looked good over the last couple of years), but every year brings more uncertainty.

    • MannyGeee Machete says:

      “and releasing Wise for that matter”

      Told you, losing D-Wise was going to cost us the season. Took the long way around, but it happened!

  7. rek4gehrig says:

    All I know is that I watched the Giants score 5 runs in the blink of an eye and without the benefit of a home run.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m sure you know more than that, and that what you know is actually relevant to something, since that wasn’t.

    • Eddard says:

      Yep. That’s modern baseball. Put the ball in play and good things will happen. People think that the postseason is all about the star players. It isn’t. It’s about starting pitching and clutch hitting. The postseason is about the Cody Ross’s, the David Freeses, the Pete Kozmas and the Marco Scutaros. Look to the Cards and Giants for a blueprint of how to build a ballclub for the postseason.

  8. Murderers' Row Boat says:

    Everyone but Ibanez and Ichiro decided getting to the ALCS would still get them laid.

  9. Curved Slightly says:

    If only we had a 22 year old power hitter in the line up that could’ve provided some pop in the middle of the line up. Oh wait… we traded him for a guy that had more DUI’s than innings pitched.

  10. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    What went wrong with the offense? I would say it’s the same culprit as in 2010, 2011, there is just no clutch hitting on this team. We don’t have the opportunistic hitters like Damon and Matsui were in recent years. I think you may be able to find one or two guys who are available who may get a clutch hit for you in the playoffs or WS like Cody Ross whom I advocated for in the offseason instead of Jones. There is also Marco Scutaro who also has a penchant for the big hit at the right time against the great pitcher. Since we are going old again, we might as well look into these guys.

  11. Barbara Booey says:

    “He was, by far, the biggest drain on the team’s offense. There’s no doubt about it.”

    Kind of a stupid comment by Axisa. You can debate as to who was the biggest contributor to the collective failure, but to say Cano was “by far” is asinine. Arod was BENCHED and didn’t have nearly the amount of ABs. Granderson WHIFFED 50% of all his ABs. When you have played so terribly that your manager removes you from the lineup, or you’re in the lineup and whiffing, you’ve truly contributed nothing to the offense. If Cano grounds out, and there are guys on base (which there weren’t), maybe his outs are relatively more productive. The point is that while Cano was downright terrible, it’s arguable other guys contributed even more to the collective failure. So Axisa saying that Cano “by far” was the biggest drain is an idiotic statement.

    • Lew says:

      Its relative to expectations. Cano “should have” carried the team, because everyone has pretty much given up on A-Rod…and Grandy…and Tex…and Swish…etc

      • Jose M. Vazquez says:

        That is true.

      • Barbara Booey says:

        What you say makes sense, relative to expectations. Except I don’t see where Axisa makes that distinction.

        Secondly, expectations among many, all season long, was that the Yankees could rely on the long ball to create enough runs to win games. That was the mantra spouted by many on RAB, YES, etc. In hindsight, it has now been proven what should have been known all season long. The long ball can win games in the middle of the summer against lousy #4 and #5 pitchers on last place teams. But in the postseason, as always, runs are at a premium and inevitably strong starting pitching necessitates that offenses need to manufacture runs.

        By the way, Axisa has been known to say that pitching is less important than offense. Maybe that’s been debunked as well? ;)

    • gc says:

      He’s the single best hitter and overall player on the team. And he was absolutely on fire coming into the post-season. It’s a totally appropriate evaluation.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Cano is the best player on the team and he reached base four times in the postseason, one of which was an intentional walk. Only Chavez was worst, and he had fewer than half the plate appearances.

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      You win as a team, you lose as a team and apparently you suck major donkey ass and suck at baseball as a team.

  12. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Due to pure clutchitude and guts, Eduardo Nunez should be given the #’s 2, 13, and 24 to wear next season.

    • Athenian says:

      That would be totally cool, especially if they were all lined up top to bottom on his jersey. a number pyramid.

    • Jose M. Vazquez says:

      I would not joke too much about Nunez because he could turn out to be that clutch player we are looking for. He can run, has some power, makes contact frequently.

  13. a realist says:

    Take a look at the strikeout totals. To me that tells a better story.

    Swish 10 K vs. 30 AB
    Grandy 16 K vs. 30 AB
    Alex 12 K vs. 25 AB

    even Jeter, the guy we can’t win without – 10 K vs. 27 AB
    or Ibanez 6 K vs. 22 AB

    When these guys are expected to do the most damage and/or set the table and they strikeout anywhere from nearly 30 – 50% of the time you are going to have a hard time scoring runs. The entire team was striking out 25% of the time as a whole. The fact they never made a single adjustment or tried to protect the outer half of the plate was sickening. These are the things I think you are supposed to work on with the hitting coach. Why Long still has a job is ponderous.

    • CANOlli says:

      Those are things big league hitters should/must do by themselves. At the end of the day, firing people just to fire people is counter-productive(i.e. 1980-1995 seasons), and it’s better to have the continuity. The only guy in this organization who really deserves to be fired is Nardy Contreras

      • a realist says:

        Agreed. Let’s make sure the lack of postseason offense continues. No firings. Promotions for everybody!

        I do hate Nardi though. He put me on a word count and I’m not allowed to finish this senten

    • thenamestsam says:

      “Why Long still has a job is ponderous”

      1. of great weight; heavy; massive.
      2. awkward or unwieldy: He carried a ponderous burden on his back.
      3. dull and labored: a ponderous dissertation.

    • WhittakerWalt says:

      “blah blah strikeouts don’t mean anything”

  14. Robert says:

    Instead of what went wrong lets go forward and fix it. My first question is if we tender Swish at 13million will that scare other teams away from signing him do to the forfiture of a draft pick and then we are stuck with him. Swish may say hey I get 13 Million and another audition year for a multi and stay in Pinstripes!

  15. Darren says:

    The offense this post-season was so bad it defines analysis.

    It’s like trying to describe why a zero is a zero. Short squat, fat, gunt, humpback, pimples, one eye, unibrow, bad breath, hammertoes and cankles. That’s the Yankees offense postseason 2012. A fucking zero.

    See you in April.

  16. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    Since I don’t watch much postseason baseball unless the Yankees are playing, any comment I may have made regarding Scutaro is purely coincidental and not what he may be doing in these playoffs. In fact I did not know that he had a good game until now. But he does have a knack for the great at bat.

    • I am not the droids you're looking for...(I believe that children are our future) says:

      Of course completely coincidental and a testament to your keen insights and observations.

  17. jason says:

    The offense this post-season was so bad it defines analysis. Defies it too. It was the perfect storm of suckiness and bad luck (awful calls by umpires; SP gets hit on the wrist with a line drive and then performs BETTER; etc. etc).

  18. Joe Kotulak says:

    See I don’t look so much at what a team scores in terms of runs for the entire season, but rather the method of how their scoring runs. To people runs are runs, but I don’t really look at it that way, things have to be treated delicately. I mean let me put it a different way. If I play chess I may beat the hell out of a guy 99 times out of 100 who is inexperienced by using the same basic strategy to help me win the games against it. Well just because I dominate him that much doesn’t mean I should just incorporate the same strategic way of thinking when I play him every time otherwise at some point after losing so many times, the guy will catch on. Same thing with hitting. There has to be improved methods of scoring runs not so much about where they are in runs scored. I mean I could make the case I would rather have the Cardinals lineup who scored less runs for the season than the Yankees lineup, because they are more likely to be successful off of any kind of pitching since runs can be driven in more often with a single or double approach than a homerun. Singles and doubles tend to hold up better at the end of the season than does homeruns. I mean besides the obvious slump factor, there has to be an explanation for when the Yankees went through a stretch this year of 6 for 72 with RISP. That has to do with trying to hit the homeruns that happen a lot less frequent than singles or doubles and that’s why you set historic record stretches like that, because the 3 run homerun is rare compared to the solo job.

    I mean we talk about how the Yankees method of scoring runs worked. Ok but look across the league, what if the Yankees were only 36 homeruns above the major league baseball average for number of homeruns which was 164. Would this Yankees team have still been the same offense if they hit only 200 homers instead of 245? Probably not because even with 200 homeruns which is very good for a season there is a very good possibility the Yankees would have missed the playoffs. The point is the Yankees were very lucky to hit that many homeruns this season, because if they hit 200 homeruns or more closer to the league average for homeruns they would not have been able to make up for it like a team like the Cardinals did because of their very good hitting approach. Luck may be part of bad hitting, but hitting so many homeruns every year can lead people to ignore guys pulling the outside pitch or going 2 for 13 with RISP because the team hit 4 homeruns in a game.

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