Pulling for Power

Remember May 17th? Yeah, me neither. That day, however, I published this piece on Mark Teixeira and his performance on pitches in and out of the zone. A Twitter conversation I had with ESPN’s Mark Simon last week brought this post to my mind (more on that later). My breakdown was mostly general and didn’t get specific as to what Tex was doing on pitches in certain parts of the zone or where those balls were ending up. In researching for this piece, I took a look at Tex’s splits, specifically his numbers based on location.

When pulling the ball as a right handed batter, Tex hits to a fantastic line: a .288 batting average; a .615 slugging percentage; a .327 ISO; a .386 wOBA; and a 148 wRC+. As a lefty, his pull numbers are even gaudier: .387 BA; .978 SLG; .591 ISO; .567 wOBA; 275 wRC+. Given his reputation, my assumption was that Tex was doing what seemed logical: dropping his (very powerful) bat head onto pitches on the inner part of the plate and mashing them to his pull field. However, the opposite seemed to be true. Recall, all the way from the first paragraph, my conversation with Mark Simon:

He tweeted that Tex was second in all of baseball (to Albert Pujols) on outer-half home runs this season, and posted the following heat map:


I asked Mark if he could give me the locations of all those homers and he obliged:


All but two of those homers–the shortest dots to the left field side, numbers nine and 11 on the year for Tex–were pulled. So it seems that, instead of ripping inside pitches, Tex is extending his arms and getting the sweet spot of the bat to the ball in front of outside pitches and muscling them over the fence. Rather than just going with the pitch, Tex is sticking to what he said way back in February. “We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” he said. “Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody. That’s what the other team wants. They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter….So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift.” Thus far, going back to his pull happy roots has turned out pretty well for Teixeira. He already has more homers this year (24) than he did all of last year (22); he’s also hit more doubles in 2015 (21 to 14) and is walking more (13.1% to 11.4%) than in 2014.

When we talk about adjustments in baseball, we usually mean that a player is trying something new. Well, Tex adjusted back to something old and the results have greatly benefited both the Yankees and him. His offensive resurgence and reclaimed production are big reasons why the Yankees sit in first place in the AL East. Keep on pulling, Tex; keep on pulling.

DotF: Heathcott begins rehab assignment; Lail tosses shutout in Trenton’s win

OF Aaron Judge took batting practice today, according to Shane Hennigan. Judge said he isn’t injured, just “tight.” Okay then. He was reportedly walking around the clubhouse with his lower back wrapped last night.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-3, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — back-to-back two-hit games with a triple
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB — back at third base now
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-5, 1 2B, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 5/3 GB/FB — 47 of 65 pitches were strikes (72%) … efficient! (not exactly his trademark!)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Wilking Rodriguez: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

A-Rod’s three homers, Murphy’s three-run shot lead Yanks to 8-5 come from behind win over Twins

Source: FanGraphs

Holy smokes. I need a cigarette after that game. The Yankees battled back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the Twins 8-5 on Saturday night thanks to the oldest player on the roster and the second youngest player on the roster. What a win. It’s Saturday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Ten More Years!: Alex Rodriguez had had enough. The Yankees fell behind 5-0 (more on that in a bit), so he put the team on his back and carried them back into the game. Solo homer into the third deck in the fourth inning, two-run homer into the bullpen in the seventh, then a game-tying solo homer to center off Glen Perkins in the ninth. Three homers to lead the comeback. And they say he ain’t clutch.
  • Serial Killed: A-Rod merely tied the game in the ninth. His teammates took care of the rest. Mark Teixeira singled but was erased on Carlos Beltran‘s fielder’s choice. Beltran moved to third on Chase Headley‘s single to put the go ahead run at third with one out. Backup catcher/serial killer John Ryan Murphy just needed to hit a ball to the outfield, and he did that and then some. Murphy hit a three-run homer over the high wall in right-center field (oppo blast!) to give the Yankees the 8-5 lead. It was in a two-strike count too. What a stud. What a moment.

    John Ryan Murphy forearm smash

  • No No CC: The Yankees shouldn’t allow CC Sabathia to make another start, but you and I both know they will. He allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in 5.2 innings on Saturday, against a Twins lineup loaded with righties and switch-hitters. It was easy to foresee a rough night. Sabathia hasn’t gotten righties out at all this year. As long as Sabathia is in the rotation, the Yankees are not giving themselves the best chance to win. Simple as that.
  • Unsung Hero: A-Rod hit the three homers and Murphy gave them the lead, but Adam Warren is the unsung hero of the game. He replaced Sabathia in the fifth, escaping his bases loaded jam with a strikeout, then tossed two more scoreless innings to give the Yankees a chance to get back in the game. Warren stopped the bleeding and deserves the win. Andrew Miller tossed a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 23 chances.
  • Leftovers: The three-homer game was the fifth of A-Rod’s career and his third with the Yankees. He last did it against the Royals in 2010. The other was the three-homer, 10 RBI game against Bartolo Colon in 2005. You remember that, right? … Teixeira had two hits and then Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Headley, and Murphy had one each … Brian McCann struck out with Ellsbury at second representing the tying run in the eighth, but who cares after that ninth inning.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, postseason odds, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. That’s a lot of stuff. The Yankees and Twins will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Gibson will be the pitching matchup in the matinee.

Game 96: Find A Way To Win On The Road

Don't do this again. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Don’t do this again. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The Yankees got their brains beat in by the Twins last night and it was just one of those games. Happens to every team a few times each season. It was another road loss however, the team’s 22nd loss in their last 35 road games. That’s not very good! The Yankees are 23-25 with a a -21 run differential on the road this year and I was surprised to see their record was that good.

Obviously this Yankees team is built for Yankee Stadium, but it’s not like they are completely helpless without the short porch. They rank middle of the pack with an average of 3.81 runs per game away from home. The real problem is the pitching staff — the Yankees have a 4.14 ERA on the road and a 3.76 ERA at home, which makes no sense. They’ve allowed four more earned runs on the road in 32.1 fewer innings.

The Yankees have built themselves a nice little lead in the AL East — emphasis on little, it is still only July — but they’re going to have to solve their road woes at some point to really run away with this thing. Last night was a clunker, just forget about it. Move on and try to win today. Here’s is Minnesota’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Brendan Ryan
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    LHP CC Sabathia

The weather in Minneapolis has been great for most of the day, but there have been some on and off showers this afternoon. The forecast says things will dry up right around game time, however, so it shouldn’t be a problem. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Welcome to the big leagues, Nick Goody. Enjoy the affordable health care for life. The Yankees have called Goody up to give them a fresh arm in the bullpen, the team announced. Branden Pinder was sent down and Gregorio Petit was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster. Goody, the team’s sixth round pick in 2012, has a 1.68 ERA (1.86 FIP) with 35.5 K% and 7.1 BB% in 48.1 relief innings split between Double-A and Triple-A this year. He’ll be the 12th (!) Yankee to make his MLB debut this season whenever he gets into a game.

Rotation Update: Joe Girardi announced the Yankees will use a spot sixth starter on Tuesday to give everyone an extra day of rest. Right now Tuesday’s starter is TBA and Girardi said they could piggyback Adam Warren and Chris Capuano. Luis Severino started for Triple-A Scranton last night and Bryan Mitchell is starting tonight, so they aren’t options. The most likely minor league candidate is (gulp) Esmil Rogers. He threw 91 pitches last time out and lines up to start Tuesday if the team wants to go that way.

Saturday Links: Gardner, Deadline, Ardizoia, Portalball

The bros in the front row dig Gardner's cleats. (Presswire)
The bros in the front row dig Gardner’s cleats. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Twins do not continue their three-game series until later tonight, so here are some links to help you pass the time.

Gardner Warned, Not Fined For White Cleats

Last weekend, Brett Gardner wore a set of white cleats during a game against the Mariners, which is against the league’s uniform rules. Apparently the Yankees have to wear cleats that are at least 51% black. Gardner had the cleats left over from the All-Star Game and CC Sabathia urged him to wear them in the game. Bryan Hoch says Gardner was warned by both MLB and the Yankees, but he wasn’t fined for the uniform infraction.

“I don’t think anyone came to my locker and took them, but I won’t be wearing them again. That was a one-time thing. I definitely got several warnings on that already — unofficial and official from the bottom all the way to the top,” said Gardner. Sabathia said he would have paid the fine since he talked Gardner into it. It’s silly, but the rules are the rules. Kinda funny to see Brett rebel like that.

Gardner Wins Heart & Hustle Award, Again

For the fourth time in the last six years, Brett Gardner has won the Yankees’ Heart & Hustle Award. Each team gives out the award annually to a “current player who not only excels on the field, but also best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball.” All 30 winners can be seen right here. Gardner also won the award in 2010, 2013, and 2014. He is now eligible for the league-wide Heart & Hustle Award. The winner will be announced after the season.

MLB Will Consider Pushing Back Trade Deadline

Earlier this week, commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters MLB will consider pushing the trade deadline back from July 31st. The second wildcard has created a ton of parity and not every team is ready to sell at the end of July. Pushing the deadline back to, say, August 15th or 30th could beef up the market. Here’s what Manfred said, via Brendan Kuty:

“I think the July 31 deadline is something that we may want to revisit in the context of the revised playoff format,” Manfred said during an appearance at the Beyond Sports United symposium at Prudential Center. “Obviously when you have two additional opportunities to be in the playoffs, you have more teams in the hunt and they may want to wait a little longer before they make decisions.

“On the other hand, we want teams, the core of which have been together for the year, playing in the postseason so you have to just balance those two issues, I think.”

While I understand pushing the trade deadline back may be beneficial, I don’t love the idea. For starters, you’d be acquiring even less of a player if you make a deadline deal. Acquire a starter on July 31st and you get about 12 starts out of him. Push the deadline back a few weeks and you get what, eight starts? Maybe ten? Also, this could potentially hurt the bad teams legitimately looking to sell because clubs could wait longer to see who becomes available. I dunno, July 31st seems to work well. It’s basically the two-thirds point of the season. Heaven forbid teams have to decide whether to go for it by then.

Rugger Ardizoia, Oldest Living Yankee, Passes Away

Rinaldo “Rugger” Ardizoia, the oldest living Yankee, recently passed away at age 95 following a stroke, reports John Shea. Ardizoia was born in Italy, immigrated to San Francisco with his family when he was an infant, and played for the Yankees in 1947 after spending three years in the army. He appeared in just one MLB game, throwing two mop-up innings in a 15-5 loss to the St. Louis Browns. Here’s the box score. Ardizoia spoke to Louie Lazar about his playing career earlier this year. Condolences to his family and friends.

Eddie Robinson, 94, is now the oldest living Yankee according to the best available research. Robinson played most of his 13-year career with the Indians but did wear pinstripes from 1954-56. He was the team’s primary first baseman during that time.

"No, really, it's called Portalball." (Presswire)
“No, really, it’s called Portalball.” (Presswire)


Believe it or not, Joe Girardi has an app coming out next month, reports Dan Barbarisi. Girardi had a hand in designing the game and wanted something family friendly he could share with his kids. “It was just an idea that we could do with families. Kids connect on phones, and they connect with parents on phones. I know I text my kids a lot, and they respond quickly. It’s just another way to have connection with family,” he said. Here are the details from Barbarisi:

In Portalball, which appears to be set against the backdrop of an alien invasion of Earth, players compete in one of three phases of the game—hitting, pitching, and fielding—to deal with the portal invaders. As in the promotional video featuring Girardi and his fiery bat, players will bat, pitch, and field their way to success against their friends using balls flying in from portals all around them.

The game uses augmented reality technology, meaning that it takes over the phone or tablet’s camera and projects the image that the phone sees onto the phone’s screen. Users then play Portalball against that constantly shifting background, with portals opening seemingly out of the walls, ceilings, and floors of the room around them.

Alrighty then. Barbarisi says the original plan was to create a more traditional baseball game, but the app developer and Girardi tossed around a bunch of ideas and eventually decided on the sci-fi theme. Sounds neat, though I never play games on my phone, so I doubt I’ll be downloading Portalball. Just not my thing. The app will be available next month.

DotF: Dermis Garcia debuts in Gulf Coast League slugfest

Some stuff to pass along:

  • Shane Hennigan says OF Aaron Judge had his lower back wrapped in the clubhouse tonight. There is still no official word on his injury — he’s listed as day-to-day and is not on the DL — but I guess it’s his back.
  • RHP Andrew Bailey was placed on the Double-A Trenton temporarily inactive list, according to Matt Kardos. He threw two innings yesterday. Not sure what’s going on there. The temporarily inactive list is for off-the-field stuff, not injuries.
  • John Manuel compiled bonus data for the 2015 draft. The Yankees spent $8.2528M in bonuses and exceeded their $7.885M pool by 4.66%. They have to pay $325,050 in tax. They would have forfeited next year’s first rounder had they exceeded their pool by 5% or more.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB — got picked off first … 18-for-41 (.439) in his last ten games
  • DH Ramon Flores: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI — two hits in five of his last eight games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 5-for-15 (.333) since being sent down
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB — five walks and three strikeouts in his last five games
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 51 of 82 pitches were strikes (62%) … first start as a dad
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 18 of 28 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 15 of 27 pitches were strikes (56%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 1/1 GB/FB — 16 of 31 pitches were strikes (52%)

[Read more…]

Twins rough up Pineda, take series opener from Yanks 10-1

Well that didn’t go well. The Yankees got demolished by the Twins on Friday night, dropping the series opener 10-1. They were dangerously close to being shut out for the fourth time this season, but they managed to score a run with two outs in the ninth.


Midsize Mike
As has been the case seemingly more often than not the last two months, Michael Pineda was not sharp Friday night, especially with his slider location. He hung several, most notably the pitch Michael Sano muscled out to center for two-run home run in the first inning. Pineda threw 39 sliders according to PitchFX and got just six swings and misses with the pitch. Batters swung and misses at just two of his 40 fastballs.

The Twins roughed Pineda up for five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. Four of the eight hits came with two strikes, when Pineda should be burying hitters with his slide-piece. He did strike out four and didn’t walk anyone, so that’s good, but it’s nothing more than a consolation prize. Since the 16-strikeout game Pineda has a 4.77 ERA in 12 starts and 71.2 innings. That’s not very good. He’s up to 118 innings on the season after throwing 84 innings last year and 40.2 the year before. Can’t help but wonder if Pineda is running into a bit of a wall.


Unembedded Yankee
For once, Phil Hughes did not let an early lead get away. Too bad he was pitching against the Yankees this time and not for them. The Yankees hit Hughes very hard the first time through the lineup — each of the first eight hitters hit a rocket before Stephen Drew popped up to second — but the balls kept finding gloves. Hughes even snagged a hard-hit grounder himself. One of those “he didn’t catch the ball, the ball caught him” jobs.

The hard contact didn’t come as frequently the second and third time through the lineup. The Yankees had seven hits off Hughes, all singles, and only twice did a runner make it as far as third base against him. They were Alex Rodriguez in the first, when he went first-to-third on Mark Teixeira‘s single, and Chase Headley in the seventh. The Yankees strung together three two-out hits in that seventh inning before Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to left. That was their best chance to get back into the game. The score was still 5-0 at the time.

All told, Hughes held his former club scoreless for seven innings, striking out three and walking none. The Yankees scored their one run in the ninth, when Ellsbury drove in Didi Gregorius with a sac fly. The game was all but over by then. It was one of those nights. The Yankees hit more than their fair share of balls hard, they didn’t fall in, and that was that. That’s baseball. Sometimes you do everything right and don’t get rewarded. What can you do.


Branden Pinder recorded the final out of the sixth to bail out Pineda then allowed a run in the seventh. It was a cheap Target Field homer by Torii Hunter, if such a thing exists. Hunter yanked it down the line and it hit the top of the wall right next to the foul pole. Chris Capuano gave up four runs and got hit around in the eighth. Another night of rest of the key late-inning guys.

Teixeira led the offense with three hits and a stolen base. Yes, he stole a base. The Twins weren’t holding him on first with a six-run lead in the eighth, so he took second. That’s about the only way Teixeira will steal a base. Gregorius had two hits including a bloop double, the club’s only extra-base hit of the night. A-Rod and Headley each had a hit and Drew had two. (No, really.) Brian McCann drew the only walk.

And finally, Brett Gardner went 1-for-4 to extend his on-base streak to 25 games. That is a new career-high — he had a 24-gamer in the middle of last season — and the longest active streak in MLB. The longest streak in MLB this season was Matt Holliday’s 45-gamer to start the season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game and overall standings and postseason odds. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages you may or may not find interesting. At the least the former is fairly useful. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday night (argh), in game two of this three-game series. Lefties CC Sabathia and Tommy Milone will be the pitching matchup in one of those rare occasions in which Sabathia can say he’s the hard-throwing one.