Mar
14

Defense very important to early-season Yankees

By
Johnny Mac. (Presswire)

Johnny Mac. (Presswire)

The old adage says a run saved on defense is as good as a run created on offense, and a number of teams have put that theory to the test in recent years. The 2010 Mariners are the perfect example of a club that went all-in on pitching and defense, and they absolutely stunk because there is a slight problem with that theory: creating a run on offense happens far more often than saving a run on defense. Just consider the opportunities, a hitter is guaranteed at least three plate appearances in every game while not being guaranteed anything as far as balls hit to their defensive position.

The absolute best defenders in baseball save about 20-25 runs over an average defender at the position in a given year according to the various metrics. That’s Brett Gardner territory, he’s a legitimate +20 defender in left field. Two players were +20 defenders by UZR last year while DRS says there were eight. On the other hand, 48 players created at least 20 runs offensively (by wRAA) with a handful of others within a few swings. So yes, a run saved is as good as a run created on offense, but creating runs on offense happens much more frequently.

Anyway, I bring this up because the Yankees have lost quite a bit of offense for the early part of the season. Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Curtis Granderson (forearm) will be out until May, and let’s not forget about Alex Rodriguez either. He outhit Kevin Youkilis last year — 114 wRC+ in 529 plate appearances vs. 102 wRC+ in 509 plate appearances — despite playing the final few weeks of the season with one good hip. A-Rod will be out until the All-Star break and is bigger loss than many people want to admit. No Nick Swisher or Eric Chavez will also sap the lineup.

Because they lost so much offensive firepower and don’t have any standout hitters to replace them, the Yankees should focus on doing what they can to save runs early in the season. None of the left field candidates are expected to hit much, but many of them also figure to stink on defense as well. Think Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz, Ronnie Mustelier … those guys. Bad offense and bad defense is a bad combination. Melky Mesa stands out as the best outfield defender in the competition, though like the other guys he will probably be below-average on offense. He is a safe bet to save a few runs with his glove though, and taking that production might be better than trying to squeeze a tiny bit of offense from someone else.

On the infield, there’s nothing the Yankees will be able to do to replace Teixeira’s glove. He has few peers on defense, but first base is also one of the least important defensive positions. They can survive with a below-average gloveman there for a few weeks. The left side of the infield is another story entirely, and the Yankees are guaranteed to have a poor defender at short. Derek Jeter was never good to start with, but now his mobility could be sapped even further by the ankle injury. Eduardo Nunez can’t make routine throws and it seems less and less likely that he’ll actually figure out it. With a ground ball-heavy rotation (outside of Phil Hughes, obviously), that could be a problem.

Ken Rosenthal says the Diamondbacks are looking to trade veteran infielder John McDonald, who can’t hit a lick (58 wRC+ in nearly 2,500 PA) but grades out excellently on defense, particularly at short. He’s cheap ($1.5M this year) and would make a lot of sense for New York’s bench, especially early in the season when Jeter will spend plenty of time at DH. If Nunez or Jayson Nix were safe bets to hit at an above-average rate, it would be a different story. None of these guys is likely to hit much, but at least McDonald would give the team above-average defense for their ground ball staff.

The Yankees were very willing to sacrifice offense for the sake of defense at the catcher position this winter — nevermind that Russell Martin was a strong defender himself, but don’t get me started again — and they should be willing to do it while Granderson and Teixeira on the shelf. It’s not like they’re sorting through a bunch a .350 OBP/.175 ISO hitters here, which should make the decision even easier. I’ve said many times before that I’m an offense over defense guy, but that’s only if the offense is a reasonable guarantee*. Since the Yankees don’t have any solid hitters to stick in the lineup, emphasizing defense might be the best approach for April.

* There are no guarantees, but you know what I mean.

Categories : Defense

122 Comments»

  1. Eddard says:

    There is no reason to panic in mid March. They’ll be just fine on defense. Do you really want Swisher back doing barrel rolls in RF? Ichiro is a huge upgrade. Gardner is an even bigger upgrade. C will be fine. The only weak point is the left side of the infield and 1B until Teix comes back. They’ll be just fine until then.

    • Slugger27 says:

      i dont know how you can think the OF isn’t a weak point. the best one is gardner and he missed all of last year.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Offensively, yes, it’s a downturn. Defensively, you should feel pretty fine with 2/3 of that outfield and calling on the new Pope to bless the third one.

        • Slugger27 says:

          im just looking at all of it put together. in my opinion, considering all factors (offense, defense, age, consistency, etc) this OF is definitely a weak spot on the team. last years wasnt. I would gladly take swishers barrel roll once a month for the increase in production at the plate over ichiro. and i would take just about anyone over juan rivera and matt diaz.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I’d obviously welcome Swisher back and think all the “garbage time” and “no defense” stuff was quite a bit exagerrated on here, but it is what it is right now.

            You’re looking at it as a whole while I’m not. Donuts for everyone!

    • jsbrendog says:

      nick swisher was not a bad outfielder. it is a dumb narrative.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....F#fielding

    • Slade Heathbar says:

      I have to agree. I’m not getting the whole doom and gloom here Mike. The offense will struggle at times to score runs now that we’re going to see #not enough HRs. But we struggled last year as well. I’ll take Mesa, Gardy, and Ichiro in the OF over the Swish and Ibanez zoo crew last year

  2. trr says:

    face it, this is at best an 85-90 win team, so EVERYTHING is critical-
    if we fall down in any area, be it defense, bullpen, on-base pct, the running game, we probably won’t make the playoffs. There is simply no room for error (no pun intended! unless you think it’s funny – then I meant it)

  3. jjyank says:

    At the very least, it should be interesting (and dare I say it, maybe even fun) to watch a team that goes about playing the game in a different manner.

    Sure, I’m not as confident as in years past, but I still am confident. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    • jsbrendog says:

      yeah, it’ll be fun to watch the yankees. you know, that team i root for whether they stink or not? cause, you know, i like them and root for them, so i watch them, regardless whether it is 1992 or 1998 or 2008 or 2009.

      now that i’ve gotten my sarcasm out of the way (i hope you realize not directed at you) I have to agree. I’m kind of excited to see a diff style of baseball and see what happens. let it play out.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Obligatory Chuck Cary reference.

        • jsbrendog says:

          i wore a fake mustache to a game once to show my love for alvaro espinoza. yikes. haha.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I only always mention Chuck Cary because things were so bad I looked forward to his starts every five days. Now go look at his career stats and cry at the thought of that.

            I still have zero recollection of Jeff Johnson, yet he spent almost two seasons in the rotation.

            This ain’t that.

  4. CS Yankee says:

    A 58 wRC+ player should be called coach regardless of his glove, no thanks.

    I think Juan is in…he’s pickin’ it at first, hitting well and carries the vet card.

    IMHO, Johnson needs to go, I doubt that the K & glove machine known as Mesa sticks (but I would still think hard about keeping him) and guessing that it’ll come down to DieeAz or Musty for the final spot to go along with Nuney-n-Nix.

    • Laz says:

      I’d rather go with Mustelier if it will be a starter. I don’t see Mesa hitting enough, but I could be wrong.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i really want to see the ronnie m experience at 3b. i feel like we need a new sergio mitre experience…you know, one that is frustrating but really not the worst (and still better than some other options) overall but sometimes the absolute worst but in the end not so bad.

        • gageagainstthemachine says:

          I disagree. “The Sergio Mitre Experience” was THAT bad. His name is like “Beetlejuice” in the Yankee Universe.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I don’t necessarily agree that’s the case. There have been far worse “Experiences” than the Sergio one.

            “Darrell May and Tim Redding” were no Hall & Oates.

            • jsbrendog says:

              exactly. plus mitre strung together some good starts and helped the yanks stay in it. reember the toronto game? plus in 2010 he may have gone 0-3 but combined out of the pen and starting he put up a 3.33 era and a 130 era+ over 54 IP.

            • gageagainstthemachine says:

              Fair enough…it just seemed like a torture to watch him pitch for the Yankees. Some of that has to do with the fact that just when I thought the Yankees had rid themselves of him, somehow he found his way back on the mound in pinstripes just to make me cringe even more. Girardi had a really weird love affair for Sergio. And, for a time there, I really rooted for the guy but he always seemed to make me regret it. In the end, I just grunted and bore down and rooted for him to not suck as much as he usually did. It’s definitely a perception thing more than a stat thing.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      He’s hitting well for sure. I wouldn’t take a spot away from him.

      I think Mike offers a very good argument for Mesa here in the second role, even know he’s looked about as hot and cold on the bat as we thought he would.

      Have we heard anything as to whether Diaz and/or Johnson and/r Francisco would accept an MiLB assignment?

      Rivera/Mesa/Musty to start the season with the team is where I lean right this second. Two can hit and serve as someone with a pulse at a couple of positions. One can play solid defense and will fit in perfectly with the idiot narrative of the 2012 Yankees with the bat.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Mesa can and would excel at what Gardner was when he first came up (IIRC): a late inning pinch runner/sub in defense… whether he can turn that in to a real job or not, that is the question. Cincinnati would love to have him for that, FWIW…

        And while I am throwing acronyms out there…

        IETC
        MRW
        TIL
        ASAP &
        RHOFRM

        • forensic says:

          Gardner was actually a full time starter when he came up in 2008, only pinch running 5 times that year, and I would venture to guess most of those were just typical days off vs a lefty or something.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      He’s struggling right now, but Johnson has had MLB success as recently as 2010 and really crushed the ball last season in AAA and a very brief MLB cameo.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

      I actually think McDonald might be worth considering, purely as a defensive replacement, taking Nix’s roster spot. It really depends who else makes the team. If they are going to go with 3 of Musty/Youk/Rivera/Johnson as a 1B/3B combination, and Nunez as the BU SS, I really don’t see a role for Nix beyond late inning defensive replacement, a role which McDonald would likely be much better suited for. Unless Nix has an opt out, this would also allow them to preserve some additional depth as well.
      I suppose in that situation they might choose to go without the extra UTIL IF and go with a PH or extra OF instead, though.

  5. Conor says:

    I agree with Mike that the Yankees should focus on defense, especially in the early going. Another reason to do so and one I think is more important is that our rotation is either young, very old or coming off of surgery. Better defense leads to fewer pitches which I would think would help C.C., Andy and Hiroki stay stronger throughout the season. They’ll be the teams strength and keeping them fresh will be a major challenge. The younger guys could all use some early season momentum and confidence. If a couple slick plays helps them win some early games it might help them mentally. Two years ago, Nova seemed to get a lot of confidence from winning even though the offense scored a lot of runs in some of his early victories.

  6. Slugger27 says:

    i disagree with the idea that eduardo nunez isnt a reasonable guarantee to be better on offense than john mcdonald.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i agree with this. if only that asshole could throw to first fucking base.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Maybe Joe should start talking to him like this.

      • Slugger27 says:

        well obviously his defense is an issue…. just saying i think its a very safe assumption nunez will be better on offense than john mcdonald. mike implies the opposite.

        • trr says:

          No, he did not.

          • Slugger27 says:

            I’ve said many times before that I’m an offense over defense guy, but that’s only if the offense is a reasonable guarantee*.

            the context of this was comparing john mcdonald to eduardo nunez and jasyon nix. how is mike not implying that nunez is not a reasonable guarantee to be better on offense than mcdonald? its exactly what hes implying.

          • Craig Maduro says:

            Sure looks like that is the implication to me.

          • forensic says:

            Sure he did, in several different places. I actually got it from when he said neither Nunez or Nix are sure bets to be above average offensively, so their offense isn’t worth any more than McDonald’s, thereby making his defense worth more than what Nunez or Nix would give you as if their offensive levels are anywhere near McDonald’s (which is pretty absurd since even in the same article he says offensive runs are more common than defensive runs, basically just as long as its not Nunez (of course everyone knows how mike feels about Nunez anyway), and Nix is basically just thrown in because he actually does suck).

    • trr says:

      well, that’s not irony; point is: stats don’t tell the whole story, and he was an inelegant (to say the least) outfielder. I like to take a little literary license every now and then….

  7. Conor says:

    In the early going, how has Ronnie Mustelier played third? Has he been acceptably bad or unplayable there?

    • Havok9120 says:

      Two games there didn’t see a single play for him. In the third game he made an error. I dunno if he played last night.

    • JRod says:

      It sounds like Ronnier will make the team if he can even fake it at 3B a little bit, KLong sounds really high on him:

      http://www.nydailynews.com/spo.....-1.1284771

      It makes sense, the guy’s (at least) 28, he is what he is, bring him up for a few weeks and see what he can do.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        That nice HD pic of his sliding head-first does a nice job of hiding about 20 pounds. Maybe I need to start sliding head-first everywhere.

        Good read……for the Daily News.

        • MannyGeee says:

          Since I decided to slide head first in to all my physicals, my doctor has stopped suggesting I shed a couple pounds. Thanks Ronnier Mustelier!!!

  8. jsbrendog says:

    does St louis have anything the yanks could use that they’d be willing to give up for nunez? they really really need a ss bad and well….the yanks have one (“one”) that they don’t seem to ever plan to play….

    does it make too much sense or no sense?

    • Havok9120 says:

      No sense because it seems to be pretty obvious that Nunez is coming north to caddy for Jeter, at least in the early going. They’re talking him up, playing him a bunch, keeping him at SS, and there was room for both him and Nix AND a retread even before the injury plague hit. I don’t think the Yanks are done with him.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      Nunez kinda sucks, so no. Basically never. He’s no SS.

  9. CountryClub says:

    If Mesa ends up being the guy, won’t he most likely play center? They’ll put Gardner in left and leave Mesa where he’s most comfortable. At least his D will be an upgrade over granderson.

  10. FLYER7 says:

    Come on…offensively what did Ibanez, Jones really over last year in second half…Mesa, Mustelier, Diaz, all can hit below .240. They just dont have the resume that makes that forgivable and a 162 game roster exemption…

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Uh…..what?

      • forensic says:

        It was actually relatively clear. Basically, ibanez and jones were mostly terrible in the second half but they were kept on the team because of their veteranness and resume. He then sea to say the Mesa, Diaz, and Mustelier can basically do the same non-production but at least they are more easily replaceable if needed to try other options.

        I think that’s it at least…

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Wow, didn’t seem clear to me at all, but thank you.

          It’s possible this year’s three could be worse, and not even provide the highlight-worthy moments that gave Ibanez TRUE YANKEE status anyway. Likely? Probably not.

          • forensic says:

            Like I said, I think that’s what it was, though it was a little convoluted. I’m also not really sure where he was going with it in terms of this post, but on the surface it’s true I guess.

            Though in reality, ibanez and jones are more in the line with the hafner deal than the Rivera, Diaz, and Mustelier choices. If hafner did hit terribly for awhile, he would get the similar forgiveness and roster exemption in my opinion.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              I agree that he would have a much longer leash, and probably will.

              Do I have an issue with that? Well, that would depend on how terrible it got.

  11. Ted Nelson says:

    Come on, man. There’s no need to oversimplify things to that point. You don’t have to look at only offense or only defense to judge a player. Unless you’re looking at a DH or PH, you have to look at the total package. This is what I’m talking about in terms of your analysis.

  12. Klemy says:

    Every Blue Jay fan that I know is laughing hysterically at the thought of John McDonald possibly being a Yankee.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Let them laugh.

      I don’t see the huge benefit of him, though. I think the UTL is going to see a ton of action this year, and I’d prefer a more balanced player there, even if they don’t particually excel at either end of the game, than a glove-first or bat-first guy.

      Basically, I’m making the argument for Jayson Nix.

    • John C says:

      Wasn’t McDonald the one who was irate at ARod for yelling HA!!!!!!!! running around the bases on that pop up that was dropped in Toronto?

      • forensic says:

        Howie Clark was at 3rd and let the ball drop. mcdonald was at SS and was pissed with people holding him back from supposedly attacking Rodriguez, I’m sure just to save himself from getting his ass kicked.

    • TomH says:

      You’re right: in Toronto, they’re doubled-over with belly laughter at the Yankees. It will get worse. “Let them laugh,” someone replies. Hell we’ve got nothing to say about it. I mind the laughter less than the condescending and patronizing “good” manners that will soon be common in AL East cities.

  13. BigLoving says:

    Once again I don’t see why everyone is so down on this team offensively. I am not going to argue the fact that they lost a ton of power because they definitely did with Swish and Martin leaving. But they also gained intelligent hitters that will grind out pitchers, give you quality AB’s and will actually prove that this thing called “situational hitting” is not some myth made up by old baseball minds that don’t agree with saber metrics as the end all be all. Youk, Ichiro and Gardner are all capable of this….definitely more so than Swisher and Arod.

    In the late innings last year the Yankees were doomed if the power went cold. I can’t wait for the day when they actually win a late inning game with a walk, SB, ground ball and then a sac fly…..a run without actually getting a hit …..imagine that.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      You’re massively underestimating the loss in power on this team and oversimplifying what occurred in past year.

      I think they could be a lot better than the gloom-and-doomers are saying, but this team, as it is going into the season, has lost an utter fuckload of bang.

      • dkidd says:

        can we make “utter fuckload of bang” a meme?

        UFB baby!

      • jjyank says:

        Yeah, and how sustainable is “a walk, SB, ground ball that moves the runner over, sac fly” scenario? I would argue that happens with less frequency than one pitch left over the plate and smacked into the stands.

        Like I said above, it will be interesting, and maybe even fun, to watch the team score runs in different ways, but let’s not kid ourselves here into thinking that it’s going to be easier to score runs this year.

        • trr says:

          well, on this team yes!

          in terms of the big picture, IMHO I think 87 or 88 wins could take the division. That’s certainly not out of the question for this team, but yes, we will struggle offensively at times this year.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            87-88 wins isn’t winning this division. Not even close.

          • jjyank says:

            I’m speaking generally. This idea that stringing together sustained rallies is better or more sustainable than hitting a home run is a bunch of utter nonsense in my opinion. The 2013 Yankees will score less runs. I would bet on it.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Don’t you get it?! Getting a bunch of guys who can’t hit as well is BETTER! They have to scrap it out and figure out ways to get guys over, learn to hold the bat properly, face the right direction, all of that!

        • ClusterDuck says:

          You forget contact hitting. You know…short swings when appropriate, and hitting the ball where it’s pitched.

          That to me is more the alternative to “smacking it in the stand” then say the SB, moving the runners over and the sac.

          • jjyank says:

            That’s not my point. You need more players to get more hits to score runs. I fail to see how that is easier to rely on than a home run

            • ClusterDuck says:

              The ’96 Yanks score more runs than the 2012 Yanks. but they only hit 162 HR’s.

              It’s easier for a team to get more hits when it’s not always swinging for the fences.

              All other things being equal, teams that are built for contact hitting will score runs just as easily as teams that swing for the fences.

              • jjyank says:

                You’re assuming that making contact will equal hits. I do not. Ichiro makes a ton of contact, but sucked balls for almost two full seasons. Maybe he’ll be better like we say at the end of 2012, but I’m not counting on it just because he makes a lot of contact. I’d take a guy like Swisher every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

                • ClusterDuck says:

                  The Yanks can make up for their loss of power with more hits this year. A team can just as easily score runs swinging for hits versus swinging for HRs.

                  Comparing back to ’96 the 2012 Yanks score their second fewest mount of runs, yet didn’t they hit their highest HR total?

                  • ClusterDuck says:

                    Correction:
                    Comparing back to ’96, the 2012 Yanks scored their second fewest amount of runs, yet didn’t they hit their highest HR total?

                    • jjyank says:

                      In theory, I’m sure it can happen and has happened. But there’s no way you can tell me with a straight face that this brand of baseball will score as many runs as the home run hitting teams of years past.

                      Or maybe you can say it with a straight face. I have no idea, I can’t see you. But I won’t believe you if you say it.

                  • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

                    There are different ways of scoring lots of runs. Comparing the 1996 team to 2012 really isn’t remotely a fair comparison. The run environment was completely different. The 2012 team finished 2nd in runs scored. The 1996 team finished 10th. I’ll take the second best offense over the 10th best offense any day, regardless of how the runs are scored.
                    Ideally, they have several above average productive hitters, that can create runs in a variety of ways. Short of that, I’ll take the most productive possible hitters, regardless of how they are productive.
                    There’s no doubt that situational hitting was a weakness on the Yankees last year. The answer to that would be to try to find equally (or better) productive hitters who are more well rounded, not finding less productive hitters who theoretically might fit a certain style.

                    Short swings don’t always lead to better results. Short swings sometimes just lead to Chris Stewart.

    • RFWarrior says:

      God – this is my exact sentiment. The 90′s were great to watch because it was such a dominant team but man am I dying to watching a team with some unknown youth that can bring a different element. Some fire. Something different. I know Damon was old when he played for the Yanks – but his two-base steal in the ’09 World Series…that’s the kind of shit I wanna see every now and then. Homeruns are exciting, but stealing home that’s great too. Snagging a HR at the wall. Exciting. Double steals. Exciting. Squeeze plays. Exciting. I’m stoked about this year even if the team isn’t a favorite to make the playoffs.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Dragons. Fireworks. The hidden ball trick. Exciting.

        • BigLoving says:

          Oh I agree the loss of power is going to take its toll but this team still has some potential to score runs. Think of last years team…..they would put up a 12 spot one game then the next game only managed to score 1-2 runs. I look at this years team as a lineup that will scrape and put up 3-4 runs consistently instead of 12 one day and a goose egg the next……and honestly with this pitching staff that is all you need to do.

          I am with RFWarrior……even though they might not be the favorites this year I am more excited about seeing some baseball being played then a home run derby every other day.

          By the way RT I had this dandy the other night to celebrate my nephew being born…..definitely recommend even though it is pricey too.

          http://www.masterofmalt.com/wh.....te-whisky/

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Celebrating in style!

            Still think you’re oversimplifying this all.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

            Last year’s team put up at least 3-4 runs more often than any other team in baseball, iirc.
            This year’s team will likely have a lot more 1-2 run games than last year’s team did.

      • ClusterDuck says:

        I’m with you on this.

        It’s worth noting that the ’96 Yankees only had 162 homers. But they did hit for a high average that year.

        I think the Yanks will be about halfway between the 2012 team and the 1996 team in both average and HRs…say 195 HR’s and .275 average.

        And with their very good pitching staff I believe that they will most likely make the playoffs.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Situational hitting and sabermetrics are not fundamentally at odds with one another. Statistics are merely meant to capture what happens on the field. If some hitters are better at what you call situational hitting it is easy to quantify and determine about how important it is to a team. Instead of creating a boogeyman out of statistical analysis, I would suggest learning about it and then testing your theory in a rational way.

    • TomH says:

      Look, even their broadcasters are aware of the power dilemma. I’m amused by the way they tiptoe around it with euphemisms (“HRs will be at little harder to come by this year,” etc.).

  14. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    No point to even entertain this. The answer is obvious :

    “The Yankees are not interested, or in on ______________________”

  15. ClusterDuck says:

    Continuing down here where I can respond to your last post…

    jjyank said:
    “In theory, I’m sure it can happen and has happened. But there’s no way you can tell me with a straight face that this brand of baseball will score as many runs as the home run hitting teams of years past.
    Or maybe you can say it with a straight face. I have no idea, I can’t see you. But I won’t believe you if you say it.”

    I just pointed out to you going back thru 17 seasons of data to 1996, that 2012 was their best year for hitting HRs and this was their second worst year for scoring runs.

    How on earth can you ignore that jjyank, with a straight face.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

      It can happen. It’s just a lot more difficult to achieve and rarer.
      And it really doesn’t pertain in any way to this year’s Yankees.
      The 1996 Yankees had 9 players with at least 200 PA and at least a .349 wOBA.
      The only player on the Yankees this year who had at least 200 PA and at least a .349 wOBA last season is Cano.

      You can make up for lost homeruns with enough good all around hitters. Unfortunately, the Yankees don’t have nearly enough of those to make up for all the power (and offense in general) that they lost from last year. They should still have enough to contend, but they’ll probably be right around league average in scoring instead of top 2.

      • BigLoving says:

        Having a 2-3-4 of Jeter, O’Neil and Bernie flat out raking doesn’t hurt your chances!

      • Commerce says:

        Generally agree…but RUNS need to be taken into account, not so much how they are obtained. As to runs scored, I suspect the ’13 NYY will match the 804 put up by the slugging ’12 squad. Assuming the rotation and pen are as good or better than the ’12 edition, then, we should be competitive unless several AL East teams log a better differential.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

          They should be competitive. I don’t think they’ll be much better than league average in runs scored though. I don’t see any chance of them matching last seasons 804 unless maybe they pull off a blockbuster trade or two. I think even 750 runs might be optimistic for the current roster, all things considered.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “I think even 750 runs might be optimistic for the current roster, all things considered.”

            Based on what? I mean that seriously. We can all throw around random numbers… 800, 750… but unless we talk about how we arrived at them it’s not much of a discussion.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Not saying that this will be an incredible offense, but .349 is a totally arbitrary cut-off point that conveniently makes your point but sort of distorts reality.

        If you lower it to .345 they have 4 (Cano, Jeter, Granderson, Tex). 6 at .342 (A-Rod + Hafner). Ichiro was at .342 as a Yankees and Youk at .339 as a White Sox. Guys like Rivera, Diaz, or Johnson certainly have the talent to get hot for a couple hundred PA stretch. Having 7 or 8 players get 200+ PAs and put up a .340+ wOBA in 2013 wouldn’t be particularly surprising. And Gardner should also be in the .320-.330 range.

        Furthermore, 1996 was a better offensive environment whether you want to ascribe that to PEDs, tighter baseballs, worse Ps, better hitters, smaller parks… whatever. The AL leading team in wOBA was 25 points higher in 1996 than 2012. No AL team was below a .321 mark in 1996, while 9 were in 2012.

        So, I don’t expect league average offense from this group. That would mean almost 90 fewer runs than 2012 whether you’re talking MLB or AL.

    • jjyank says:

      Oh dear. You really are just missing the point.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I don’t agree with ClusterDuck, because I don’t see a huge countervailing spike in OBP coming.

        At the same time I think HRs are getting really overrated around here. Great outcome, sure. I don’t see why people have been isolating them from general offensive production so much, though.

        Just to look around the league last year, it becomes obvious that HRs are not a great proxy for team offensive output. The Rangers just edged the Yankees in Rs last season, and hit 45 fewer HRs. And they also got guys on base slightly less often than the Yankees. The 3rd place Angels were quite a few Rs behind, but had 58 fewer HRs, 20 points lower in SLG, and almost 30 points lower in ISO. The Orioles were #2 in HRs in the AL last season, but in the bottom half of Rs.

        • jjyank says:

          My only point is fair simple, and it goes back to the “too many homers” memes of years past. There seems to be this idea among some that home runs “kill rallies” and “can’t be done in the playoffs, or against good pitching”. Losing the power (and subsequently, some run production) the team has lost this year will not be replaced by a couple of slap hitters, in my opinion. I still think the Yanks will score enough runs to be competitive, and probably still win the division. I’m just not making sense of Cluster Duck’s argument at all. The 1996 team is wholly irrelevant here, and there’s nothing to go on that will suggest the Yankees will get enough non-home run hits to make up for the likely loss of run production.

          I mean, one hitter can score a run with a homer. But we’re talking 3-4 singles to score a run, and I don’t view that as a more reliable strategy than hitting homers, as some seem to.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            My point is just that HRs have become a de facto proxy for offensive output or at least power around here, when it’s not really a 1-to-1 relationship.

  16. smurfy says:

    Yep, some of your point is “fair simple” that hr’s are the purest counter, the best bludgeon, may well result in large run differentials, quick. But Ichi can fair place a ball in the best spot the pitcher will predictably allow, facilitating a run, or an advance. And while it may take two singles around a walk to score a run, doubles may bring two, and they happen about twice as often as home runs (not the run diff, the event when considering a do-or-die sitiation).

    HR’s may end a rally positively, but in the middle of a large rally required, a bases clearing homer, leaving a run or two to go in the last of the ninth, puts a lump in the throat of the following batter, especially with two outs. I’d rather have, in my opinion, a man on second, with two or three to get. If we could just keep getting on and over.

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