A Statistically Sentimental Reflection on Bernie Williams

I’ve always consumed baseball in some form for as long as I can remember. I played it growing up (and still play slow-pitch softball today) and my family always made an annual excursion to Yankee Stadium; given the time period–the late 90’s–it seemed like they won every time we went to games. And in this great stretch, despite being too young to fully appreciate what those teams were doing, I obviously enjoyed rooting for the team and the players. And my favorite player among them was Bernie Williams.

Bernie’s glory days with the Yankees were marked by incredible consistency by both him and the team. Once he started rolling and before his precipitous drop-off at the end of his career, Williams was guaranteed to hit near .300; OBP near .400; slug 20 homers; hit 25-35 doubles; and drive in around 100. From 1994-2002, his peak performance, Williams hit .319/.404/.525/.929, averaging 38 doubles, 27 homers, and 90 walks per 162 games. Among outfielders in that time period, his 141 wRC+ tied him with Sammy Sosa for 10th place in the Majors, just ahead of Ken Griffey, Jr. (140). He was 5th in fWAR (43.0), too, just ahead of Manny Ramirez (41.6) and just behind Larry Walker (43.9); everyone trailed Barry Bonds (76.4) by a whole lot.

His finest season came in 1998, when he won the batting title with a .339 average. In addition to that, he also posted a .422 OBP and a career high .575 SLG. He knocked 26 homers and 30 doubles despite playing in only 128 games (578 PA/499 AB). All told, Williams hit .297/.381/.477/.858 for his career, notching a 125 OPS+; a .373 wOBA; and a 126 wRC+. He hit .300 or better eight times; he OBPed .400 or better four times; he slugged at least .500 six times; and he hit .300/.400/.500 or better three times, all in a row from 1997-1999. He now sits in 10th place on the Yankees’ all time bWAR list (49.4); 6th on the Offensive WAR list (62.6); 6th on the games played list (2076); 6th on the runs list (1366); 5th on the hits list (2336); 6th on the total bases list (3756); 3rd on the doubles list (449); 7th on the home run list (287) and the RBI list (1257); and 5th on the walk list (1069). Bern, baby, Bern, indeed.

This all ignores the fact that Williams also shined in the playoffs, smacking 22 homers in 465 postseason at bats (545 PA) and posting a line of .275/.371/.480 with 71 walks, all remarkably similar to his regular season career line. He was the 1996 ALCS MVP, crushing the Orioles to the tune of .474/.583/.947/1.531 with two home runs and three doubles. The ALCS is when Bernie did his most playoff damage, posting a .962 OPS in 41 games.

Those are the statistics and in some ways, for me at least, they represent the sentiment. The teams Bernie played on were some of the best in Yankee history and I was there to watch them and he was my favorite to watch. I even went as far as to model my batting stance after him, his slightly crouched positioning speaking to me more than Paul O’Neill’s, Derek Jeter‘s, and Tino Martinez’s upright stances. Things obviously worked out a lot better for Bernie with that stance than they did for me. Imitation is how I appreciated Bernie and the rest of the team during that time. Now as an adult, a more well-rounded and educated fan, I can look back at these numbers and realize just how damn good Bernie was at hitting.

DotF: Sanchez homers in AA; Montgomery dominates in Low-A

I missed this yesterday, but Josh Norris posted some video of SS Jorge Mateo. Mateo, 19, came into today stuck in an ugly 2-for-31 (.065) slump that dragged his season batting line down to .243/.299/.313 (80 wRC+) with Low-A Charleston. He does still have 29 steals, second most in the minors, and remains one of the organization’s top prospects. The assignment to full season ball was a bit aggressive though, especially since Mateo played just 15 games in rookie ball last year due to a hand injury. I wonder if they’ll drop him down to a more age appropriate level (Rookie Pulaski?) when the short season leagues start in a month.

Also, Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted some scouting notes from this week’s trip to see Double-A Trenton. He said RHP Luis Severino‘s slider was the”best I’ve ever seen him throw” and added he is “comfortable saying Severino will end up with a plus slider and a plus changeup.” Law also touted relievers RHP Kyle Haynes and RHP Johnny Barbato for their arm strength but noted their command is lacking.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Durham)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 K — 35-for-97 (.361) with 12 walks (.436 OBP) during the 24-game on-base streak
  • DH Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 5/4 GB/FB — 57 of 99 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (69%) … with LHP Jacob Lindgren on his way to MLB, Rumbelow is arguably the team’s best relief prospect in the minors, and he might be next in line for a call-up among non-40-man guys

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Saturday Night Open Thread

Here is the open thread for this evening. The Mets are playing right now, MLB Network will air a regional game later on, and there’s both NBA and NHL playoff action on tonight. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s blowout loss, the imminent arrival of Jacob Lindgren, or anything else right here. Or go outside. It’s really nice out, at least it is here in the Big Apple.

Sherman: Yankees to call-up Jacob Lindgren on Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are planning to call-up top relief prospect Jacob Lindgren on Sunday. Branden Pinder, who threw 48 pitches on Saturday, will go down. The Yankees will have to clear a 40-man roster for Lindgren but that won’t be tough. Brendan Ryan is a 60-day DL candidate.

Lindgren, 21, was the team’s top pick (55th overall) in last summer’s draft as a quick-moving reliever out of Mississippi State. He has a 1.23 ERA (1.92 FIP) in 22 innings for Triple-A Scranton this season with a 31.5 K% and a 70.8 GB%. Lindgren’s numbers as a pro are ridiculous: 39.3 K% and 75.6 GB% in 46.2 innings at five different levels. Total domination.

Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have had Lindgren work longer than usual outings with the RailRiders. He’s gotten at least five outs four times in his last five appearances and threw 30+ pitches twice. Lindgren is no lefty specialist — I could see Joe Girardi using him in that role initially just to break him in — but he’s not a long man either. He’s a reliever who can go two innings if necessary.

The Yankees will have four lefties in the bullpen following the addition of Lindgren, but that doesn’t really matter. Justin Wilson and especially Andrew Miller can get righties out as well lefties, and Chasen Shreve‘s split-changeup gives him an effective pitch against right-handed batters too. Lindgren also projects to get both righties and lefties out thanks to his filthy slider.

Non-Miller and Dellin Betances relievers had a 4.09 ERA this season coming into Saturday, and that’s only going up after this afternoon’s debacle. Lindgren might suck too! Relievers tend to do that. But the guys the Yankees had weren’t working and Lindgren might be a solution. It was time to try it. The Yankees need lots more help to right this ship, but Lindgren’s a start.

Losing streak hits five as Rangers embarrass Yankees 15-4

The descent to mediocrity continues. The Yankees lost their fifth straight game and for the ninth time in their last ten games on Saturday afternoon, falling 15-4 to the Rangers. Texas straight up mopped the floor with them. The game was the exact opposite of competitive.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Deja Boo
Prior to Saturday’s game, Joe Girardi told reporters “we need to clean it up,” referring to the team’s sloppy defense. So, naturally, two (more) defensive miscues contributed to the Rangers’ ten-run rally (!) in the third inning. It all started with a leadoff walk to number nine hitter Jake Smolinski, which is another problem entirely, and it continued with yet another Didi Gregorius bad decision.

Didi made a nice play ranging to his left to field Delino DeShields’ grounder, tried to flip it behind his back to Stephen Drew at second, but threw it away. There was no shot at a double play, DeShields is way too fast, but Gregorius appeared to have enough time to make a non-fancy flip to second to get the lead runner. But nope, another extra out gifted by the defense, which was supposedly a strength coming into the season.

The next batter, Shin-Soo Choo, lined a run-scoring single to center. Prince Fielder followed that with one-run single to right that turned into a two-run single when Carlos Beltran whiffed on the scoop, allowing the ball to get by him and go all the way to the warning track. Beltran didn’t give the Rangers an extra out there — he wasn’t throwing the runner out at home — but he did allow the extra run to score and Prince to advance to second. Yankees are giving up those extra 90 feet like crazy this season.

The rest of the inning is on Sabathia. I mean, most of it is on Sabathia anyway. After Fielder’s single, he allowed a single to Adrian Beltre, got Mitch Moreland to pop-out to first, and gave up a two-run single to Elvis Andrus to make it 5-0 Rangers. That ended Sabathia’s afternoon. Esmil Rogers came in and allowed Andrus to score, then tacked on four runs of his own, three on Choo’s opposite field home run that snuck just inside the foul pole. That made it 10-0. 10-0!

The total damage: ten runs on eight hits, two walks, a hit batsman, and a sac fly in the inning. Every run was earned. Sabathia was charged with six runs on seven hits and a walk in 2.1 innings and Rogers with four runs in 0.2 innings. Esmil hung around for another two innings and change after that. The defense didn’t help, but Sabathia walked the number nine hitter to start the rally and allowed four hits in the inning, including two in two-strike outs. Somehow the Yankees managed to top Friday’s seven-run third inning disaster. Impressive, really.

Face in the dirt sums up the offense. (Elsa/Getty)
Face in the dirt sums up the day. (Elsa/Getty)

Ten-Run Deficit? Pack It In
The Yankees allowed ten runs before they recorded their first hit, an Alex Rodriguez infield single leading off the fourth. He hit it into the 5.5-hole and Andrus made a nice play to his right before throwing it in the stands. A-Rod was awarded the single (he was going to safe anyway) and Andrus was given an error, allowing Rodriguez to advance to second. It was a moral victory.

The thoroughly generic Nick Martinez retired nine of the first eleven men he faced — he walked Brett Gardner and A-Rod in the first but escaped unscathed — before Alex’s single and then retired 12 of 17 batters faced after the single. The Yankees didn’t have a hit to the outfield until Beltran’s solo homer in the sixth. After they fell behind 10-0, the Yankees sent 30 batters to the plate and 18 swung at the first or second pitch. Seventeen of those 30 at-bats were over in three pitches or less. The offense was firmly in “let’s get this over with” mode at that point. Can’t say I blame them.

Nope. (Presswire)
Nope. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Part of me thinks this game was the end of the Rogers era and part of me thinks nah. Girardi left him out there to throw 59 pitches in the blowout and his results have not been good lately (seven runs in three innings Saturday). Rogers allowed four runs in his first 16.1 innings, but he’s since allowed 14 runs in his last 12.2 innings. At the same time, Esmil isn’t deciding games, he’s just mopping them up, and having a veteran long man who can be run into the ground in games like this is useful. I dunno. We’ll see.

Branden Pinder replaced Rogers in the sixth, allowed two inherited runners to score, allowed two more runs in the seventh, then soaked up four more outs. He threw 48 pitches total. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he will be going back to Triple-A Scranton tomorrow in favor of another generic white guy a fresh arm. Bryan Mitchell is scheduled to start for the RailRiders tonight, so if he gets scratched at some point in the next few hours, that likely means he’s on his way to the Bronx. Obvious call-up candidate. Scratch that, it hasn’t been ten days since he was last sent down, so Mitchell can’t be called up.

Just about all the offense came after the game was out of reach. Beltran and Gregorius hit garbage time solo homers in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, while John Ryan Murphy hit a run-scoring triple in the ninth. Slade Heathcott picked up his first career RBI driving in SKJRM with a ground out. Gregorius, A-Rod, Garrett Jones, and Heathcott singled as well. That was Didi’s second homer of the season and second in as many games.

And finally, Garrett Jones pitched! He walked DeShields, got Choo to ground out, plunked pinch-hitter Leonys Martin, and got Tommy Field to fly out to center. Jones was the first position player to pitch for the Yankees since Dean Anna last year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, as well as the updated standings. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages available as well. Here’s the win (lol) probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rangers wrap up this three-game series on Sunday night, in yet another ESPN game. That’ll be the team’s fourth ESPN Sunday Night Game in seven weeks this season. Thankfully they don’t play another until at least August, though I supposed they could always be flexed into that spot. We’ll see. Anyway, Chris Capuano and Yovani Gallardo will be the pitching matchup.

Game 43: Need The Big Man To Do It Again

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees stink. At least they stink right now. They’ve lost four straight and eight of their last nine games overall, and they seem to find a new way to lose every night. One night it’s the offense, one night it’s the pitching, one night it’s the defense, and some nights it’s all of the above. Those are the worst.

CC Sabathia has been on the mound for the last two Yankees wins and he pitched well both times out, well enough to make you think he is kinda sorta turning a corner. I hope so. The Yankees desperately need Sabathia to pitch them to another win this afternoon, just like they leaned on him to pitch them to so many wins from 2009-12. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 2B Stephen Drew
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. CF Slade Heathcott
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a lovely day in New York. A little on the cool side but otherwise a perfect day for baseball. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Chris Martin (elbow) has already thrown one bullpen session and will throw another later today. He could head out on a minor league rehab assignment next … no new information on Jacoby Ellsbury (knee).

Jacoby Ellsbury likely to miss more than 15 days with knee sprain

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Following last night’s game, Joe Girardi told reporters Jacoby Ellsbury is likely to miss more than the minimum 15-day DL stint due to his right knee sprain. Ellsbury suffered the injury when he caught a cleat on a swing and said the injury is on the outside of his knee. Girardi added surgery will not be required. That’s all we know at this point.

“It’s basically, he’s on the 15-day DL. Do I think we’ll get him back in 15 days? No. Do I think it’ll be a long DL stint? No,” said Girardi, according to Brendan Kuty. “But, as I’ve said all along, it’s going to depend on how he responds to the treatment and with the speed being a big part of his game, we’ll just have to see what he’s doing.”

Depending on the severity, a knee sprain could require anywhere from two weeks to two months to heal. Maybe longer. We’re just going to have to wait and see. Since Ellsbury is a speed player and this is a leg injury, the Yankees have to make sure he’s 100% before returning. I mean, that’s always true, but you catch my drift.

Slade Heathcott figures to play quite a bit in Ellsbury’s absence, at least against righties with Chris Young playing against lefties. Brett Gardner has slid into the leadoff spot with Carlos Beltran taking over as the number two hitter. Problem is Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius are batting seventh and eighth instead of eighth and ninth now, respectively.

Ellsbury is the Yankees’ best all-around player and one of their best hitters, so losing him for any length of time is really bad. Even the minimum 15 days was going to be tough. I have no idea what Girardi means when he says Ellsbury will be out longer than that, but hopefully it’s not much longer. I’m as excited to see Heathcott as anyone, but geez, no Ellsbury is a huge blow.