Apr
30

Top half of the lineup behind recent offense problems (which won’t last forever)

By
(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Just last week, the Yankees scored 45 runs on a seven-game road trip through Tampa and Boston, scoring at least five runs in five of the seven games. The rebuilt lineup started the season slowly but that wasn’t going to last forever. The Yankees were getting on base, smacking homers, stealing bases, coming up with timely walks, hitting good pitching (14 runs in 9.2 innings against Jon Lester and David Price), and hitting bad pitching (11 runs in 6.1 innings against Erik Bedard and Felix Doubront). It was great.

The first four games of this homestand have not gone as well. The Bombers scored eight total runs in three games against the Angels over the weekend (still won two of three!) and last night they were shut down by whatever’s left of Chris Young‘s career. Two of their last four runs have scored because of defensive miscues — Nick Maronde wild pitch, Mike Zunino throwing error — so they’ve needed some help getting on the board these last two games. It’s annoying but every team goes through (multiple) stretches like this each year.

The Yankees haven’t been scoring lately simply because the top half of the lineup is in a collective funk. Here is what they’ve done over the last seven days, which includes that 14-5 beatdown of the Red Sox:

The fivesome has combined for seven extra-base hits during that time, all doubles. Obviously some parts have been mixed in the last few days (Brett Gardner leading off yesterday, for example), but that has been the team’s most used one through five lineup combination so far this season according to Baseball Reference. You’re not going to score many runs when your top five hitters do that. Guys like Brian Roberts, Mark Teixeira, and Yangervis Solarte are not going to carry a lineup all by themselves.

McCann had a good 6-7 game stretch a few weeks ago but otherwise he has not hit this year and it’s starting to get annoying. He isn’t striking out much — his 13.3% strikeout rate is well below the league average and his lowest rate in seven years — but he also isn’t walking much either (4.4%). Considering he walked in 9.7% of his plate appearances last year and in 9.4% for his career, I don’t think this will last. McCann is being victimized by the fourth highest infield pop-up rate (9.6%) among baseball’s 193 qualified hitters, which is by far a career high. Pop-ups are basically automatic outs. It seems like McCann is juuust missing and popping up some pitches he should be creaming. Since he isn’t struggling to make contact and his ground ball rate hasn’t spiked like it does for most players when they start to lose bat speed (his grounder rate has actually dropped this year), it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out.

Ellsbury and Beltran were hitting earlier this season, quite a bit too. They just hit the skids recently. It happens. Perhaps Ellsbury’s sore hand explains his slump, who knows. Soriano has long been one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, we all know this from his first stint in pinstripes, and right now he’s not hitting. A few weeks ago he was, also quite a bit. Jeter … I don’t really know what to expect from him going forward. He isn’t hitting for any power whatsoever but his overall .352 OBP is more than respectable. I’d be happy if he maintains that all season at his age and after all those injuries. Baseball is hard enough as it is. It’s extra hard for a soon-to-be 40-year-old coming off some serious leg problems.

When the Yankees struggled to score at the start of the season, I said it was way too early to worry and it was. They started hitting a day or two later. The same is true now. The top half of the lineup has stunk for a week now and the team has struggled to score runs on the homestand, but it is only a handful of games. McCann is the only one of these guys who hasn’t hit much all season but it’s not like the Yankees will bench him. That’s be pretty silly. They just need to work through it. Otherwise Ellsbury, Jeter, Beltran, and Soriano have just stopped hitting at the same time. It stinks but it won’t last forever. It’s just baseball.

Categories : Offense
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    This.

  • dp

    They have to get the Jeter out of the 2 hole especially against right handed pitching.

    • I’m One

      Jeter had the highest BA and 2nd highest OBP of that group. Not sure if I should laugh or cry.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        It’s like when the doctor hits your knee with the rubber mallet.

      • TWTR

        .208 .269 .271 .540 v. R
        .364 .462 .364 .825 v. L

        So the post above yours is wrong. He is still great v. LHP, and probably could be for a few more years, but v. RHP, he is a very different hitter.

        • Rick

          He likes to think he’s right all of the time. Just let it go and let him decide whether he needs to laugh or cry about looking foolish.

  • dp

    The Jeter looks done against right handed pitching. His Ops in his first PA of the game is in the .400’s overall. He has scored just 5 runs overall in 92 PA. So why would anyone want him batting second?

    Against lefties bat him third where he can clearly still be an asset.

    • Yankee Fan 1

      Because judging from the group up there there are so many better options…

      • dp

        The track record of the others against right handed pitching is so much better then the Jeter over the last 4 years. The Jeter is not an asset hitting second anymore.

  • Sgt. Slaughter

    I don’t like any of this one bit!

    AND THAT’S AN ORDERRRRR!!!!!

    • Mick Foley

      YOU DON’T HAVE THE TESTICULAR FORTITUDE!

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Put Gardy in the 2 hole.

    Ellsbury, Gardner, Jeter. On base guys with most speed…best chance to get an early lead. Gardner takes pitches allowing Ells to steal a base. This team needs all opportunities to play with an early lead. In a perfect world Jeets would be dropped down but that will not happen. Drop Soriano-he’s been awful.

  • RetroRob

    People still worried about lineup order and where Jeter bats. Crazy.

  • ALZ

    I really hope this is the last year of soriano, at least as a starter. I get annoyed with hitters like him that insist on swinging at everything. Next year we have Arod and Beltran at DH, both who are way better than him with the bat. Maybe Flores is erady next year to be a decent backup. Covering rf when Beltran at DH.

  • Marc Green

    I said last year early when the Yanks were in first “This is the worst first place team I ever saw”….this year in first with 15-11 record I say “This is the worst First place team I ever saw”…I try not to repeat myself at my age