Yankeemetrics: The sinking pinstriped ship (June 30-July 2)

(Getty)
(Getty)

Sleep is overrated
The Yankees arrived in Houston early Friday morning, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, but that didn’t stop them from putting together one of their most satisfying wins of the season against the best team in baseball.

The 13-4 rout also capped off one of the most bizarre months for any Yankees team in recent memory. They went 13-15 in June, the 20th best record in the majors last month. Not good. Yet they compiled a run differential of plus-56 that ranked second only to the Dodgers. Very good!

Two stats tell this perplexing story: The Yankees led MLB with nine wins by at least five runs, and tied for the MLB lead with nine losses by exactly one run. It was the first time the Yankees had nine wins by five-or-more runs in a single month since July 2010; and the first time in at least the 15 seasons they had nine one-run losses in a single month.

At the center of the offensive explosion was Brett Gardner, who went 3-for-5 — including his third career grand slam — and a career-high-tying six RBIs. He’s just the second Yankee leadoff batter to drive in six runs in a game, along with Hank Bauer on May 10, 1952 against the Red Sox. Gardner is also just the fifth Yankee to have multiple 6-RBI games as a leftfielder; this is a fun list: Alfonso Soriano, Bob Meusel, Charlie Keller and Babe Ruth.

Although Aaron Judge was hitless in four at-bats, he still notched his 29th and 30th walks of the month, etching his name in both the MLB and franchise record books. The ridiculous power and patience he showed in June was nearly unprecedented, especially for such a young player:

  • Judge is the fourth Yankee with at least 30 walks, 10 homers and five doubles in a calendar month. The rest of the names should be familiar by now: Mickey Mantle (June 1957), Lou Gehrig (twice) and Babe Ruth (seven times).
  • Among all major-leaguers age 25 or younger, only six others besides Judge walked at least 30 times and had at least 70 total bases in a month: Mantle (June 1957), Eddie Mathews (July 1954), Ted Williams (twice), Mel Ott (June 1929), Keller (August 1939) and The Babe (twice).
(AP)
(AP)

Deja vu all over again
Another series, another candidate for W.L.O.T.S. (Worst Loss Of The Season).

In what has become an all-too-familiar theme for this Yankees team, they followed up one of their most impressive wins of the season with one of their most brutal losses, and the bullpen flames were raging again on Saturday night. Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman self-destructed in the eighth inning, blowing a three-run lead as the Yankees suffered another horrible come-from-ahead loss, 7-6.

Here are some of the gory details behind the Yankees recent string of late-inning meltdowns:

Stat Notes
15 Blown Saves – 10(!) more than they had at this point in the season last year (in just four more save opportunities);
– Yeah, they had 16 all of last year
16 One-Run Losses – Four more than they had through 79 games last year;
– 10 of them have come since June 1, tied with the Phillies for the most in that span
5 losses when leading by at least three runs – Matches the same number they had in all of 2016;
– At this point last year, they had one such loss
10 losses with at least five runs scored – One fewer than they had all of last year;
– Through 79 games in 2016, had six such losses;
– 7 of the 10 losses have come since June 1, the most in MLB

Dellin Betances was the biggest culprit in the eighth inning, getting only two outs while allowing three stolen bases, four earned runs, three walks and a homer. Yikes.

betances-long-gm2-apHe is just the third Yankee pitcher to allow at least three stolen bases in an outing of fewer than one inning pitched, and he’s the only one of those three to also allow an earned run.

But its the rest of his ugly pitching line that earns Betances of our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series:

He’s just the second Yankee ever to give up at least four earned runs, walk at least three guys, allow a homer while facing no more than six batters. The other was Hank Johnson on June 17, 1925 against the Tigers, a 19-1 loss that included a 13-run sixth-inning implosion by Yankee pitchers.

The story of the game should have been about the historic and dazzling major-league debut of Clint Frazier, who went 2-for-3 with a double and homer. His six total bases were the most by a Yankee his first career game over the last 100 years, and he also became the first player in franchise history to hit a home run and a double in his big-league debt.

Perhaps even more impressive … at 22 years and 298 days old, he was the youngest Yankee rightfielder with a homer and a double in any game since Mickey Mantle on May 30, 1952.

Didi Gregorius also took his turn in the spotlight, crushing his first career grand slam. The only other Yankee shortstops in the last three decades with a grand slam were Starlin Castro (August 5 last year) and Derek Jeter (June 18, 2005).

(AP)
(AP)

At least they scored a run
The Yankees early-summer slide deepened with another listless defeat on Sunday afternoon, as the bats went cold and the arms were lit up by the Astros powerful lineup in an 8-1 loss. They’ve now gone winless in six straight series, their longest such streak since an eight-series winless streak spanning July and August of 2013.

Luis Severino had one of his worst performances of the season, getting tattooed for nine hits — six doubles, a homer and two singles — and six runs in 5⅓ innings pitched. Yet he still flashed dominance with his fastball-slider combo, striking out a quarter of the batters he faced (7 of 28).

That pitching line gives us an unfortunate statistical connection for Severino …. The only other Yankee in the last 100 seasons to pitch fewer than six innings while surrendering at least seven extra-base hits and getting at least seven strikeouts in a game was Michael Pineda on April 24, 2016 against the Rays. #SmallSevy

The only other notable number to come out of this game was One — the number of runs they scored in the ninth inning to avoid being shutout for the first time this season. This is the sixth time in franchise history they’ve gone at least 80 games into the season without being blanked and the first time since 1988.

The franchise record? That would be held by the 1932 team, which scored at least one run in every game that season. In related news, the 1932 Yankees went 107-47 and swept the Cubs in the World Series. Oh, and a man named Babe Ruth hit a sorta famous home run in Game 3 of that series:

Fan Confidence Poll: July 3rd, 2017

Record Last Week: 3-4 (44 RS, 35 RA)
Season Record: 43-37 (452 RS, 348 RA, 49-31 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Brewers (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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DotF: Mateo’s scorching hot start in Double-A continues

A trade! The Yankees have traded RHP Matt Wotherspoon to the Orioles for an undisclosed sum of international bonus pool money, the team announced. Wotherspoon is a bit of a long shot sleeper. The 25-year-old has a 1.85 ERA (2.42 FIP) with 29.4% strikeouts and 6.5% walks in 39 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year. The 2017-18 international signing period opened today and the Yankees signed a bunch of players. Here’s a quick recap. I’ll have more on this year’s international class in a few days, once the dust settles.

Triple-A Scranton (14-7 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Jake Cave: 2-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI — second two-homer game in his last four games, and sixth homer in his last ten games … he hit two homers in his first 45 games of the season
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-6, 1 2B, 1 K — now 11-for-32 (.344) with two doubles and two homers in nine Triple-A games
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — 22-for-58 (.379) with six doubles, two triples, and two homers in his last 16 games
  • LF Mark Payton: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 56 of 88 pitches were strikes (64%) … 90/34 K/BB in 87.2 innings
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3/5 GB/FB — 27 of 42 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

Judge and Sanchez among five Yankees selected to the 2017 All-Star Game

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are sending five players to the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami next week. Sunday night the two All-Star rosters were announced and Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino will be there representing the Yankees. The Yankees haven’t had as many as five All-Stars since they had eight in 2011. Here are the full rosters.

Judge will start this year’s All-Star Game after receiving more fan votes (4,488,702) than any other AL player. He’ll be the first Yankee to start the Midsummer Classic since Derek Jeter in 2014, his farewell season. Only Bryce Harper (4,630,306) received more fan votes among all players. Judge has also been invited to the Home Run Derby, though he’s yet to announce whether he will participate.

It goes without saying Judge is very worthy of starting the All-Star Game. He’s been a monster. Judge is currently hitting .327/.448/.687 with an MLB best 27 home runs this season, and he leads the league in runs, total bases, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and both versions of WAR. He is, quite simply, having one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history. Love that guy.

Some fun facts about Judge’s All-Star Game selection:

  • He’s the sixth position player drafted by the Yankees to become an All-Star. He joins Jeter, Brett Gardner, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada. (The draft has been around since 1965. Bernie Williams was signed as an international free agent, not drafted.)
  • He received more votes than any other player on the players’ ballot. His peers gave him more All-Star Game love than any other player. I bet that means more to Judge than the fan voting.
  • He’s the first AL rookie to be voted an All-Star Game starter since Hideki Matsui in 2003. Matsui was a veteran from Japan though, not a true rookie.

Both Betances and Castro were selected to the All-Star Game for the fourth time in their careers. Betances has made it each of the last four years. Betances, Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer are the only pitchers who can make that claim. Castro was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2011, 2012, and 2014. Judge, Sanchez, and Severino are first time All-Stars. Sanchez has also been invited to the Home Run Derby, though, like Judge, he’s yet to decide whether to accept the invite.

The big story here is that four homegrown Yankees are All-Stars, and three of them are no older than 25. Even Castro, the non-homegrown All-Star, is still only 27. I wonder how long it’s been since the Yankees had five under-30 All-Stars? Has to have been a while, right? Judge, Sanchez, and Severino did not need to be selected to the All-Star Game to be validated as cornerstone Yankees, but it sure is cool they made it.

In addition to the five All-Stars, Didi Gregorius is on the Final Vote ballot. He’s up against Elvis Andrus, Xander Bogaerts, Logan Morrison, and Mike Moustakas. Royals fans are probably going to stuff the hell out of the Final Vote ballot like they do every All-Star ballot, but we’ve gotta try to get Gregorius there. He’s fun and he’s awesome. Fans all around the world need to experience the joy of Sir Didi. Here’s the ballot. Go vote a few hundred times.

As for snubs, I’d say Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday deserved serious All-Star Game consideration, but they’re both currently on the disabled list. That surely worked against them. So did the numbers crunch. The All-Star Game rosters were trimmed from 34 players to 32 players this year. Either way, five (potentially six) All-Stars is pretty awesome. More than I expected.

Astros 8, Yankees 1: The free fall continues

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Well, at least the bullpen didn’t blow it? The Yankees were completely outclassed by the Astros in Sunday’s series finale and will fly back home with an 8-1 loss fresh in their minds. They were outscored 12-1 in the final ten innings of the series. The Yankees are 5-14 in their last 19 games and have gone from four games up in the AL East to three games back. An impressive free fall, this is. It’s Sunday and it’s a holiday weekend, so let’s recap this one with bullet points:

  • Sevy Struggles: Seven extra-base hits allowed — including four to the first eight batters — in 5.1 innings is pretty much all you need to know about Luis Severino‘s afternoon. Even the outs were loud. The ‘Stros tattooed Severino for six runs on nine hits and one walk and one hit batsman in 5.1 innings, and six of those eleven baserunners reached in two-strike counts. Pretty annoying. Severino against the Astros in 2017: 10.13 ERA. Severino against everyone else in 2017: 2.93 ERA.
  • Lots Of Pitches, No Runs: The Yankees forced Astros starter Mike Fiers to throw 105 pitches in four innings (!). They scored zero runs. The Yankees had two runners on base in each of the first three innings, including twice with only one out. The batters after that second runner reached in those innings went a combined 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and an infield pop-up. The one guy who managed to hit the ball out of the infield in those spots, Brett Gardner, fell about a foot short of a three-run home run. Alas.
  • Bullpen Mismatch: As if there were any doubt, the bullpen put the game completely out of reach after Severino. Tyler Webb and Domingo German combined to allow Severino’s inherited runner to score plus two runs of their own in 2.2 innings. The Astros bullpen: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. I can just picture Joe Girardi laughing in the dugout when Chris Devenski entered in the fifth inning. “Those fools, you can’t use your best reliever outside his assigned inning!”
  • Leftovers: The no shutout streak lives! A double by Chase Headley and a single by Chris Carter got the Yankees on the board in the ninth. The Yankees and Nationals are still the only teams to score in every game so far this season. The last time the Yankees went this deep into the season without being shutout was 1988 (83 games) … Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez: 4-for-7 with a walk. The rest of the Yankees: 2-for-25 (.080) with four walks, and those two hits were the Headley double and Carter single in the ninth … Clint Frazier went 0-for-3 with a walk and a double play grounder, though his at-bats were all good. Worked the count and swung at the right pitches. He saw 25 total pitches in his four plate appearances.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The road trip is over and the Yankees are coming back to the Bronx for a six-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Brewers to close out the first half. Masahiro Tanaka and Marcus Stroman are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s series opener. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any of the six games on the homestand. I hear booing is cathartic.

(FanGraphs seems broken and the WPA graph is not currently available. It’ll be here once everything is working properly. The graph won’t be very interesting anyway.)

Game 80: Win the series, please

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Just imagine. If not for a pair of Dellin Betances meltdowns, the Yankees would be coming into today’s road trip finale with a 5-1 record in the first six games, and they’d be trying for a sweep of the first place Astros. Alas. The bullpen has been a mess for a solid month now, and now even Betances is having problems.

Last night’s loss stunk, though the Yankees still have a chance to clinch a series win today, and they have their best pitcher on the mound. The Yankees haven’t won a series — or back-to-back games! — since annihilating the Orioles at Yankee Stadium three weeks ago. It’s been far too long. Gotta start picking up those series wins to get anywhere. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. DH Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. 2B Tyler Wade
  9. LF Clint Frazier
    RHP Luis Severino

It’s a hot one in Houston and that means the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed yet again. This afternoon’s series finale will begin at 2:10pm ET. YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Adam Warren (shoulder) threw a simulated game today and everything went well. He could be activated Tuesday. Hopefully that means Domingo German will go to the minors and actually pitch once in a while.

Sunday Musings

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone! Hope you’re celebrating and will be celebrating safely with friends, family, and baseball. What’s on your mind, baseball wise, as the calendar has flipped to July? Here’s what’s on mine.

The State of the Union

It would be an overstatement to call the state of the Yankees precarious at this point, even if that’s the first word that comes to mind after two weeks of bullpen disasters and a slide out of first place. The team is still in the lead for the first wild card and, frankly, I never expected this group to be here when the season was about to start.

I’ve heard and seen talk of adjusting expectations and that at this point, a lack of playoffs would be a severe disappointment for this edition of the Yankees, but there’s a part of me that’s hesitant to agree with that. Would I be bummed if this team missed the playoffs? Definitely. Maybe. They’ve mashed and played better than expected; the playoffs would be a great reward for that. But from the outset, this year was about developing the young players; Greg Bird notwithstanding, this year has been a success for that as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Jordan Montgomery have flourished in staring roles for the team, with Chad Green emerging as a reliable bullpen option to boot. Hopefully Clint Frazier‘s big night last night is a sign of more success for 2017.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The All Stars

Aaron Judge leads the AL in All Star votes. Gary Sanchez is having the best overall season of any AL catcher, though Salvador Perez of the Royals is leading the vote behind the plate. Still, it’s hard to say both of the Yankees’ youngsters won’t be All Stars. As I’ve matured as a fan, I’ve longed for my favorite team’s players to skip the All Star Game, opting for rest and rehab, rather than strain in an exhibition. But this year, it’s different. Though both have played in the Futures Game, this is likely to be the first (of many) All Star appearances for both players. That makes it special. And on top of that, they deserve it. As they say, you always remember your first and both Judge and El Gary should be proud to represent the Yankees at the game.

On that note, there’s another reason–a less important one–for Judge and Sanchez to play in the game. It signals to the league as a whole that the future is now for the Yankees, that they’re reloading and retooling, not rebuilding. Judge and Sanchez are going to be an important part of returning the Yankees to dominance. That’s obviously a good thing for us as Yankee fans, but isn’t it just as easy to argue that they represent something more important to baseball as a whole? People, silly people, really, love to root against the Yankees. They love for the Yankees to be the heel. For the last few years, the team has been so mediocre that they bordered on irrelevance and I’d imagine hating them was hard. Everyone loves a villain and the Yankees are poised to be that once again.

Also, Aaron, if you’re reading this, please participate in the Home Run Derby. Please.

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

A Good Problem to Have?

With Clint Frazier joining the big league team, the Yankees have four outfielders they’d want to start for only three positions. Barring MLB letting them play four outfielders and bat ten men like slow pitch softball, someone is going to need to sit every night. Well, not exactly. With Matt Holliday out with a viral infection–let’s hope he’s not patient zero of some apocalyptic nightmare disease–one of the four can DH each night for the time being. That keeps everyone fresh and keeps bats in the lineup. As a plus, all four guys are good enough defensively that it won’t cost them. When Holliday comes back, there may be an issue. There definitely will be when Aaron Hicks returns. This, however, is a great logjam to have and I’m sure it’ll work itself out in time.