The offense at three intervals

(Photo Credit: Flick user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Even though we do it constantly, checking baseball stats every single day is as useful as checking your weight every day if you’re on a diet. It fluctuates so much that the data rarely tells you anything useful, especially early on in the process. It’s best to break things down into larger segments, like checking your weight on the first of every month or something. We’re not deep enough into the baseball season to break things down by month, but we’re at a convenient point in the season where we can break things down into three 21-game segments. Obviously these are team games and not individual player games, but we can definitely see some interesting trends. Let’s dive in…

Derek Jeter
After 21 Games: .262/.330/.286
After 42 Games: .257/.309/.327
After 63 Games: .259/.324/.324

The good news is that the extra base power is starting to show up even though it’s almost all doubles. That’s fine, Jeter’s real job atop the lineup is to simply get on base, and he’s really doing a very poor job of it. His walk rate (8.1%) is right in line with his career numbers, he’s just isn’t hitting for average anymore. Some of that is BABIP luck (or unluck, really), but we all watch the games, Derek just doesn’t make much hard contact these days.

Curtis Granderson
After 21 Games: .270/.325/.635
After 42 Games: .270/.339/.610
After 63 Games: .279/.353/.611

Curtis is a bad man. A bad man with a rising walk rate as pitchers begin to show him more respect. Don’t go changin’, Curtis.

Mark Teixeira
After 21 Games: .253/.387/.560
After 42 Games: .253/.373/.500
After 63 Games: .252/.366/.539

Well, at least his batting average is consistent. Unfortunately Tex’s on-base percentage is trending in the wrong direction because he hasn’t been walking much lately, at least relative to his usual walk rate. The power numbers really had nowhere to go but down after he hit six homers in the team’s first 15 games, and they’ll probably continue to go down because a .287 ISO is still crazy high.

Is Tex just a .250 hitter now? It’s entirely possibly, he’s certainly gotten pull happy from the left side in Yankee Stadium, but frankly he should. Play to the ballpark man. I think the other team would rather see him lay down two or three bunt singles (to beat the shift) a game than take a normal at-bat. I know I’d rather see David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez do that whenever they face the Yankees, anyway. Teixeira’s hit more and more fly balls since coming to New York, and more fly balls means more homeruns but also more outs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that his BABIP has also dropped. It would be nice if the $180M first baseman hit for average, but I’m happy as long as he maintains a .380-ish OBP and a .250-ish ISO with his usual stout defense, which he’s close to doing.

Alex Rodriguez
After 21 Games: .317/.442/.667
After 42 Games: .261/.348/.486
After 63 Games: .288/.363/.518

The start of A-Rod‘s season was very 2007-ish, he was just tearing the cover off the ball and it looked like nothing could stop him. Then he had that stiff back/oblique and fell into that brutal slump he’s since rebounded from. Alex’s 9.6% walk rate and .231 ISO combination is still crazy good (just 17 other players in the game have both) but both are below his career averages (10.9% and .268, respectively). We can’t ignore what he did (or didn’t do) following that little injury, but A-Rod started the season hot and is hitting .314/.367/.568 over the last 31 days. That’s All-Star production, just not what we’ve come to expect from Alex.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user jcantroot via Creative Commons license)

Robinson Cano
After 21 Games: .299/.303/.586
After 42 Games: .288/.313/.519
After 63 Games: .281/.324/.500

Is it fair to call the guy with the third highest wOBA among AL second baseman (and fourth best overall) a disappointment? I don’t think I would go that far, but I am disappointing in the complete deterioration of Cano’s plate discipline. His walk rate is right back down to where it was before last season, but the real problem is that he’s swinging at more pitches out of the zone than ever before. It’s not a coincidence that his strikeout rate is a career worst (though still way better than league average). He’s been better about that of late, but come on man, Robbie ain’t no .280 hitter.

Nick Swisher
After 21 Games: .208/.326/.236
After 42 Games: .223/.337/.317
After 63 Games: .225/.350/.350

Okay, now this guy has been a disappointment, there’s no way around it. Swisher really didn’t pick up the pace until the west coast trip started about three weeks ago, but he’s still struggling against righties. I suppose the good news is that he’s drawing a freaking ton of walks, as in a top ten walk rate (15.7%) in all of baseball, and that his batted ball profile is relatively unchanged. Like I said, Swish has started to turn it around, but we’re now 63 games into the season and he just finally cracked a .700 OPS. Ouch.

Jorge Posada
After 21 Games: .138/.233/.415
After 42 Games: .183/.299/.374
After 63 Games: .226/.323/.378

It’s been … uh … an eventful season for Posada, who was hitting so poorly that he was supposed to hit ninth one game, at least until he pulled himself out of the lineup. All of the improvement has come in the last six games or so, in which Jorge has simply destroyed the ball. His power continues to disappear (he hasn’t hit a homerun since April 23rd) though at least he’s drawing some walks. Aside from the last week, it’s been a brutal season for Posada, the kind of season that gets non-legacy players released.

Russell Martin
After 21 Games: .292/.370/.597
After 42 Games: .268/.371/.480
After 63 Games: .232/.338/.429

When you hit six homers in the team’s first 17 games, there’s just nowhere to go but down. Martin crashed back to Earth a little harder than expected, but he continues to provide value with his ever-increasing walk rate alone. A 2-for-31 slump (with some games missed due to injury mixed in) has dropped his batting average almost 40 points in his last ten games, though he isn’t striking out much and that appears to be some dumb BABIP luck more than anything. Russ doesn’t have to hit for huge power to be valuable, just keep getting on base at a decent clip and play solid defense. Expectations were pretty modest coming into the year and a hot start shouldn’t change them.

Brett Gardner
After 21 Games: .145/.197/.306
After 42 Games: .266/.343/.411
After 63 Games: .276/.353/.425

Now this guy, this guy’s been an adventure all season. Gardner’s early season slump was among the worst I’ve ever seen, but the statistical correction was glorious. I can buy his current batting average and OBP as his true talent level, but I do think the power numbers are a touch high. Seven total bases in four at-bats yesterday really gave him a nice boost in that department anyway (came into the game with a .395 SLG). For a nine-hole hitter that plays top of the line defense in the outfield for the low, low price of approximately league minimum, it’s hard to be disappointed with Gardner’s overall production to date. Now, if only he could get back to stealing bases like he did last year…

Fan Confidence Poll: June 13th, 2011

Record Last Week: 3-3 (37 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 36-27 (330 RS, 255 RA, 39-24 pythag. record), one back in loss column
Opponents This Week: vs. Indians (one game, Mon.) vs. Rangers (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Cubs (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

{democracy:161}

Yanks pound Tribe again, win third straight

This past week has been a story of two extremes. The Yankees were completely and utterly dismantled by the Red Sox during that three game series, but they’ve turned around and completely shellacked the Indians this weekend. Aside from the win, the best news of Sunday was that no one got hurt. Phew.

Off to the races.

Too Many Not Enough Homers

The Yankees pounded out a season high 18 hits on Sunday afternoon (previous high was 16 in Derek Jeter‘s two-homer game against Texas), but not a single one of them left the yard. Go figure. Most of the damage came in the five-run fifth inning, when the Yankees turned a one-run game into a six-zip laugher. Six of the first seven men in the inning picked up hits, starting with Brett Gardner‘s hustle double to put the wheels in motion and ending with Nick Swisher‘s seeing-eye ground ball through the right side. Josh Tomlin doesn’t have spectacular stuff and he simply didn’t get ahead of anyone that inning, a recipe for disaster.

You can take your pick of either Gardner or Curtis Granderson for the offensive star of the game. Gardner went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, and three runs scored while Grandy went 4-for-4 (all three singles and a double) with a sac fly, two runs scored, and two driven in. The 9-1-2-3-4 hitters combined for a dozen hits (four doubles and a triple), a walk, and eight runs scored in 24 plate appearances. Mark Teixiera was the only one not to get in on the hit parade, instead going 0-for-4 with the walk.

For all the talk about the Yankees’ relying so much on the homerun, they’ve gone from averaging 1.6 homers per game in their first 44 games to 1.3 homers per game in their last 19 contests (the AL average is 0.93 HR/G). As for their runs scored per game, it’s gone from 5.14 to 5.47 during those same time periods. They’ve been scoring more runs while hitting few homers per game for more than three weeks now, and remember they faced some pretty good pitching as well.

That's right, you just struck out looking at an 84 mph pitch.

Freddy Dances Out Of Danger

Last time out was not pretty for Freddy Garcia, who didn’t make it out of the second inning against the Red Sox because his slop was high in the zone and out over the plate too often. He was better today, but it also helped that he was facing a slumping lineup that had exactly zero hits off him in their dozen chances with men on base. Garcia did not have a single 1-2-3 inning, and the Indians even took advantage of his slow delivery by stealing five bases. Russell Martin didn’t even bother to make a throw on several of them, their jumps were that good.

Sweaty Freddy stranded a man on first in the first, a man on second in the second, men on the corners in the third, a man on third in the fourth, a man on second in the fifth, a man on second in the sixth, and handed a runner on first over to Boone Logan with two outs in the seventh. His six strikeouts were very well timed, three ended an inning and two others recorded the second out, meaning it would have taken a hit for the Tribe to score a run. Games like this are Garcia’s calling card, keeping a struggling offense in check while dodging bullets for six-plus innings.

Minka approves.

Leftovers

Jeter had two singles and two well hit balls to the warning track, but the latter doesn’t count for anything. The Cap’n is seven hits away from 3,000 with four games left in the homestand. He’ll get them, don’t worry. Alex Rodriguez had three hits, while Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher,  and Jorge Posada each had two. Jorge’s got 13 hits in his last 22 at-bats, raising his average 57 points in the last week. Russell Martin looked pretty awful (0-for-4 with a strikeout and two GIDP’s), but he just missed a bunch of time with the back issue. I’ll cut the dude some slack this game.

Frickin’ Boone Logan man. Grady Sizemore came into the game hitting .121/.194/.303 against lefties this year, so what happens when Logan comes into face him with two outs in the seventh? He walks him on five pitches. Seventeen of the 45 lefties Boone has faced this year have reached base, a .378 OBP that is just straight up not acceptable for a guy who’s only the roster to get lefties out. Randy Flores is pitching well against lefties in Triple-A, you have to wonder if he’ll be brought up sometime soon. I’m not saying they’ll cut Logan completely, but getting a new primary lefty seems inevitable right now.

It was good to see Joe Girardi go right back to Kevin Whelan two days after his ugly big league debut. He looked much better this time out even though he walked a batter, doing a better job of spotting his fastball down in the zone (even getting a called strike three on one). Hopefully the first time jitters are out of the way and this is what we’ll be seeing more of in the future. While on the subject of relievers, I sure hope Frank Herrmann’s nickname in the Indians’ clubhouse is Pee Wee. I would be greatly disappointed if it isn’t.

Remember when the Indians were 30-15? They’ve won just four of 18 games since then. They’re 1-9 in their last ten games, and the one was a 1-0 win over punchless Twins. Cleveland’s run in the seventh inning snapped a 15.1 scoreless innings streak for the Yankees’ pitching staff, but the Tribe have still scored just 15 runs in their last eight games (1.88 per game). Seven of those runs came Friday night. Oh well, I’m sure it was fun for Clevelanders while it lasted.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score and no highlights.

Up Next

The Yankees moved back to nine games over .500 with the win, tying their season high. They’ll look to move to ten games over on Monday night, when A.J. Burnett and Carlos Carrasco wrap up this four games series.

Yankees close to agreement with Dante Bichette Jr.

Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees are close to reaching an agreement with 51st overall pick Dante Bichette Jr. He’ll be in Tampa to take a physical on Tuesday. No word on the money, but I can’t imagine it’s far above slot (which is approximately $695,000), if it is at all. Bichette didn’t figure to be a tough sign or anything, but it’s always good to get the deals done as soon as possible so the kid can get some playing under his belt. Assume the physical goes well, I imagine he’ll report to the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees in time for their season opener next Monday.

Igawa sets SWB franchise records in win

Gene Michael was in Trenton to watch Manny Banuelos last night. He told Ken Rosenthal that Banuelos was 93-95 with his fastball but struggled with command, also showing a “plus” curveball and changeup. A Yankees’ executive with a good report on a Yankees’ prospect? Stunned.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Syracuse)
Austin Krum, CF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B
Ramiro Pena, SS: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB – six for his last 16 (.375) with three doubles
Jordan Parraz, DH: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB – four of his last six hits are doubles
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 0 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
Kevin Russo, 2B-LF: 0 for 3
Greg Golson, LF-RF: 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB – 11 for 33 (.333) since coming off the disabled list
Dan Brewer, RF: 0 for 1, 1 K – left the game after robbing a homer in the fourth inning … hopefully he didn’t tear his labrum like Justin Maxwell
Luis Nunez, 2B: 1 or 3, 1 K
P.J. Pilittere, C: 1 for 3, 1 BB
The Ghost of Kei Igawa, LHP: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 7-5 GB/FB – 56 of 93 pitches were strikes (60.2%) … record setting day for Igawa, he broke the SWB franchise career records for innings pitched and homers allowed
Josh Schmidt, RHP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K2-0 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – 15 of 25 pitches were strikes
Ryan Pope, RHP: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (63.6%) … not today
Randy Flores, LHP: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1-1 GB/FB – five of eight pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Realignment

I for one welcome the Astros' between innings entertainment to the AL. (Photo Credit: Flickr user AmandaD_TX via Creative Commons license)

Rumors of realignment have popped up over the weekend, focusing on the creation of two 15-team leagues. Let’s get the nuts and bolts of it from Buster Olney (Insider req’d)…

Sources familiar with the discussions to date say the talks are serious, and while one executive believes the odds of change are less than 50-50, another says this is the type of discussion that can gather momentum and become a reality. “It’s really important that the players are behind this,” he said.

There are details to work out, of course. Some on the ownership side would favor a division-less structure — that is to say, 15 teams in each league looking to survive to get to the postseason, in a structure similar to what was in place before 1969 — but some players indicated on Saturday night that the only internal discussions they’ve had center around three divisions of five teams in each league.

The Astros seem to be the obvious candidate to move from the NL over to the AL, taking one team away from the six-team NL Central while adding one to the four-team AL West. Plus it would create a geographic rivalry with the Texas. The problem is that two 15-team leagues would mean that interleague play will take place all year, otherwise one team in each league will be off each night. Apparently the top five teams in each league would make the playoffs, which is great in theory but still isn’t perfect because the schedule will presumably remain imbalanced. I’m not sure I love the idea, but I’m curious to know what everyone thinks.

Anyways, here’s the open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game has the Reds at the Giants (Volquez vs. Sanchez), plus you’ve also got Game Six of the NBA Finals (8pm ET, ABC). You can also watch Yankees’ second round pick Sam Stafford pitch for Texas against 21st round pick Zach Wilson (he’s a first baseman) and Arizona State (7pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN360.com). Winner advances to the College World Series. Talk about whatever, go nuts.

Montero not in Triple-A lineup (again)

Update (6:27pm): Via Erik Boland, Montero is out of the lineup because of the eye infection according to Brian Cashman. I can buy that, I had an eye infection about a year ago and that thing lingered like crazy. Still seems weird that they wouldn’t just come out and say that in the first place.

Original Post (4:22pm): Jesus Montero was again not in the lineup for Triple-A Scranton today, apparently because of a “manager’s decision.” He sat yesterday and it was described as a routine day off. I’m not quite sure a Triple-A manager has the authority to sit an organization’s top prospect for two straight days after he just missed four with an eye infection (he did start on Friday), so I think something’s up. Maybe it’s a discipline thing (he did pinch-hit yesterday), maybe he’s being traded, maybe he was still being considered for a call-up in case Russell Martin suffered a setback during this afternoon’s game. I really don’t know, but this is … weird.