(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees will be making some additions to Monument Park this summer. The team announced they will retire Joe Torre’s uniform No. 6 later this year, as well as honor Goose Gossage, Paul O’Neill, and Tino Martinez with plaques. Bernie Williams will be honored in some way next year. Here is the ceremony schedule:

  • Martinez – Saturday, June 21st
  • Gossage – Sunday, June 22nd (Old Timers’ Day)
  • O’Neill – Saturday, August 9th
  • Torre – Saturday, August 23rd

No date has been set for Bernie’s ceremony next year, and there is no indication whether he will have his number retired or simply receive a plaque. No. 51 has been out of circulation since Williams left and it should be retired, in my opinion.

CluelessJoeCoverTorre, now 73, was unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee over the winter. He had one heck of a playing career and did manage four other clubs, but he is going to Cooperstown for his success leading the Yankees through their most recent dynasty.

Torre managed the club from 1996-2007, and during that time the Yankees won ten AL East titles, six AL pennants and four World Series championships. They went 1,173-767 (.605) under his watch. Torre is second on the franchise’s all-time wins and games managed (1,943) list behind Joe McCarthy.

The divorce was ugly, especially once Torre’s book The Yankee Years was published. The two sides have repaired their relationship over the last few years and Torre is now a regular at Old Timers’ Day and other team events. I’m glad they worked it out. Torre is very deserving of having his number retired.

With No. 6 being retired and Derek Jeter‘s No. 2 certain to be retired at some point in the future, the Yankees are officially out of single digit numbers. They are all retired. Here’s the list:

  1. Billy Martin
  2. Jeter (eventually)
  3. Babe Ruth
  4. Lou Gehrig
  5. Joe DiMaggio
  6. Torre
  7. Mickey Mantle
  8. Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey
  9. Roger Maris

The numbers 10 (Phil Rizzuto), 15 (Thurman Munson), 16 (Whitey Ford), 23 (Don Mattingly), 32 (Elston Howard), 37 (Casey Stengel), 42 (Mariano Rivera and Jackie Robinson), 44 (Reggie Jackson), and 49 (Ron Guidry) are also retired. Williams, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada are strong candidates to have their numbers retired. Add in Torre and Jeter and maybe it’ll be one number retirement per year from 2014-18? We’ll see.

Martinez spent seven years in pinstripes and had more than his fair share of huge moments, particularly in the postseason, but giving him a plaque seems like a stretch to me. They re-issued his No. 24 almost instantly. O’Neill played nine years with the Yankees and won a batting title while with the team (.359 in 1994), though his No. 21 has been mostly out of circulation since his retirement, outside of the LaTroy Hawkins fiasco. Gossage played seven years in New York and is wearing a Yankees hat on his Hall of Fame plaque. Giving him and O’Neill plaques works for me.

The Yankees, particularly Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman, indicated over the winter that the team is planning to beginning honoring its recent history. Rivera’s number retirement last September was the first big ceremony and we now know there will be several more over the next two years.

Categories : Days of Yore
Comments (145)
May
08

Thoughts on the off-day

By in Musings. · Comments (72) ·
(Harry How/Getty)

(Harry How/Getty)

The Yankees are done with the West Coast portion of their six-game road trip and will rest today before beginning a three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee tomorrow night. Hooray interleague play, if that’s your thing. Here are some scattered thoughts on the off-day.

1. The Angels series was a big positive for the Yankees, beyond the whole won two of three thing. David Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vidal Nuno pitched very well, their best outings of the season (against a very good offense), and the team needed to see something that indicated the rotation was not in complete tatters. It’s only one start each, I know, but there were signs of progress, especially for Kuroda. I thought his stuff was fine in his first six starts, he had just no command of anything. The command appeared to come back Tuesday night and that was good to see. He was vintage Kuroda that game. I guess it took him a little longer than usual to get a feel for his offspeed stuff. The Yankees could probably still use another starter with Ivan Nova out for the year and Michael Pineda on hiatus, but at least now it doesn’t feel like all pitching hope is lost.

2. The Yankees will play their next 12 games and 15 of their next 19 games against National League clubs. Ten of those 15 games are on the road too, so they’re going to lose the DH spot for a good chunk of the next two weeks. I think Joe Girardi will simply rotate Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Beltran into the starting lineup during the NL park games rather than sitting one guy in particular during that stretch of games. There’s really nothing else they can do unless someone gets hurt, which hopefully won’t happen. Furthermore, the Yankees will play 13 straight games against teams that either are bad or figure to be bad this year (Mets, Pirates, Cubs, White Sox) following this series with the Brewers. Yeah, there are lots of road games coming up (14 of the next 20!), but this is one of the softer stretches of the schedule this season. Good time to get on a roll and bank some wins.

3. The All-Star Game fan voting has started already — it actually started about two weeks ago, which is crazy early — and as of right now I think three Yankees will be elected to the Midsummer Classic: Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, and Derek Jeter. Jeter could go about 0-for-200 between now and mid-July and he’ll still probably win the fan vote in his final season. MLB might even rig the vote to get him there because last year’s ratings were almost a record low, and Jeter is one of the few players who transcends the sport and has significant marquee value. Either way, it seems like those three are the team’s only serious All-Star candidates. Maybe David Robertson if he rattles off about 25 saves with a sub-1.00 ERA in the next two months. The days of having like, five or six All-Stars every season is long gone. Those years were fun.

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

4. After a slow start to the season, Brian Roberts has hit very well of late. Basically since he returned from his little back problem last month. On the other hand, Yangervis Solarte has slowed in recent weeks after his hot start to the season. (He actually had a real nice series in Anaheim.) He wasn’t going to hit like Tony Gwynn all summer, unfortunately. These two have basically reversed their April roles, when Solarte was damn near carrying the offense and Roberts wasn’t doing much from the bottom of the order. It would be cool if they both hit at the same time, but I guess you take what you can get. I still think those two as well as Kelly Johnson would get exposed with regular playing time, so rotating Johnson in a bit more in the coming weeks would be a wise idea. I know they’ve faced a lot of lefties of late, but I don’t think Johnson should automatically be glued to the bench against southpaws. At least he’ll get to play a bunch these next few weeks just because of the interleague games and the need to pinch-hit and all that.

5. Speaking of Solarte, it has only been five weeks but I think we’ve seen enough from him to know he’s a useful big leaguer. When the season started we had no idea what he could be, and the super hot start made it even tougher to judge him. The Yankees grabbed this guy off the scrap heap and he had basically no track to support any kind of projection about his future as an MLB player (other than “he doesn’t have one”). Solarte is a switch-hitter who makes a ton of contact, can play second and third, fill in at shortstop in a pinch, and even play some left field. He did it in the minors and he did it in Spring Training. There’s a spot for a guy with that skillset on the roster, as a bench player at the very least. I mean long-term too, not necessarily just for the remainder of the season. He can help in 2015 in beyond. Solarte’s no star but he’s been an excellent find for the Yankees.

Categories : Musings
Comments (72)


Source: FanGraphs

What a great way to end the series. The Yankees beat the Angels by the score of 9-2 on Wednesday night, giving them their first series win in Anaheim since June 2011. Jorge Posada had three hits in that series. Considering the ugliness of Monday’s walk-induced loss, rebounding to take two of three was pretty awesome. It’s late, so let’s recap the with bullet points:

  • Five-Run First: The Yankees scored more runs in the first inning than they did in eight of their last ten games. The five-run outburst was fueled by two walks sandwiched around an error (Mike Trout and Collin Cowgill nearly ran into each other and the ball was dropped). Mark Teixeira doubled down the left field line to drive in the first two runs, Yangervis Solarte plated the third on a sac fly, then another error on Brett Gardner‘s weak grounder led to the fourth run (Hector Santiago threw the ball into right field). Brian Roberts capped off the rally with a two-out, two-strike bloop single. Why can’t every first inning be like that?
  • Yeah Jeets: Roberts hit his first homer of the season on Tuesday night, meaning Derek Jeter was officially the last regular without a dinger. He took care of that in his second at-bat, swatting a solo homer just over the left-center field wall. It was either a hanging cutter or slider. Hanging something or other. It had that slider/cutter type of movement. The only players on the roster who have yet to go deep are Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan. Ryan just came off the DL and hasn’t even had a plate appearance yet.
  • Numero Nuno: Things looked dicey in the second inning. The Yankees had spotted Southern California native Vidal Nuno six runs in the first two innings, but he put the first two runners on base and went to a 2-0 count on the third hitter. The Halos pushed a run across with a ground out and did load the bases with two outs, but a pop-up in foul territory helped Nuno escape the jam. That was the only time he was in trouble all night. Nuno retired the next 13 and 14 of the next 15 men he faced to finish the night with one run allowed in 6.1 innings. He struck out three, walked one, worked quickly, and threw strikes, which is exactly what he’s supposed to do with a big lead. Well done, Vidal.
  • Tacked On: Dellin Betances survived a bases loaded situation in the seventh, but Trout was on deck, so it was a bit of a reminder that the 6-1 lead wasn’t completely safe. The Yankees responded with three tack-on runs in the eighth, getting help from walks and shoddy defense. John Ryan Murphy had the big blow, a two-run single to left. A five-run lead is kinda safe. An eight-run lead is really safe. Betances allowed a run on two hits and two walks, needing 38 pitches to get five outs. Dr. Dellin and Mr. Betances. The latter showed up on Wednesday. Preston Claiborne got the last three outs without incident.
  • Leftovers: Because these are the Yankees, they did manage to blow a bases loaded, no outs situation in the fourth inning. Carlos Beltran hit into a 3-2 force out (beat the return throw), then Teixeira hit into a 3-2-3 double play … Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeter, Solarte, Gardner, and Murphy all had two hits apiece … the Yankees drew five walks, their most since drawing five in the first game of their last series with the Angels … there were no hilariously awful defensive plays, which was nice to see for a change.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are off on Thursday and will open a three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Friday night. Masahiro Tanaka and Yovani Gallardo is the scheduled pitching matchup.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (36)

Here is tonight’s game thread.

Both 1B Greg Bird (back) and IF Anderson Feliz (unknown) were activated off the DL and added to the High-A Tampa roster, the team announced. Hooray for that.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Indianapolis)

  • 1B Ramon Flores: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — played 23 games at first in 2011 but this is only the third since
  • SS Dean Anna: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP
  • RF Adonis Garcia: 2-4, 1 K, 1 SB — 12 hits in his last 30 at-bats (40%)
  • RHP Brian Gordon: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 8/6 GB/FB — 55 of 85 pitches were strikes (65%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1 HB, 0/1 GB/FB — seven of his 13 pitches were strikes (54%) … season debut after being sidelined by an oblique problem … the team has moved him to the bullpen permanently, remember
  • RHP Matt Daley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes (60%)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (36)
May
07

Game 33: Win and Rest

By in Game Threads. · Comments (264) ·
(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

By Anaheim standards, the first two games of this series against the Angels haven’t been that bad. Considering the Yankees walked five straight batters (including three with the bases loaded!) to lose Monday’s game, that tells you just how ridiculous things usually get in this ballpark. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it. The Yankees have a chance to escape with their first series win in Angels Stadium since the middle of the 2011 season with a win tonight.

David Phelps and Hiroki Kuroda both turned in very strong starts in the last two games, and now it’s Vidal Nuno‘s turn. I feel like we know what the other four guys in the rotation are, good or bad, but Nuno is something of a mystery. He’s been very good the first time through the order but has gotten tattooed after that, which makes sense given his stuff and profile. These Angels gave him a hard time two starts ago, and now the element of surprise is gone. The Yankees have won the game immediately before each of their scheduled off-days this season, and it would be nice if that trend continues tonight. Here is the Angels lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Alfonso Soriano
  6. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  7. LF Brett Gardner
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    LHP Vidal Nuno

The weather is great in Anaheim, probably. It’s a safe assumption. First pitch is scheduled for a bit after 10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (264)

Apparently the video autoplays. Sorry about that. Here’s the link.

Mariano Rivera was on Daily Show early week to talk about … something. I assume his upcoming book. I’m not a Daily Show watcher and I haven’t sat through the clip yet. I do know that Jon Stewart is a die-hard Mets fan though, so I’m sure that led to some laughs. Check it out.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The regular game thread will be along closer to game time. ESPN will air the Cubs and White Sox (Wood vs. Danks), plus there are some NBA and NHL playoff games on, including the Rangers. Talk about whatever you like.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (20)
May
07

2014 Draft: Jeff Hoffman

By in Draft. Tags: · Comments (9) ·

Jeff Hoffman | RHP

Background
Hoffman is a semi-local kid from Latham, a suburb just outside Albany. He was not drafted out of Shaker High School and followed through on his commitment to East Carolina, where he stepped right into the rotation and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 139/60 K/BB in 183.1 innings as a freshman and sophomore. This spring he has a 2.94 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB in 67.1 innings. Hoffman missed a start with shoulder inflammation a few weeks ago and earlier today Keith Law reported he needs Tommy John surgery and is done for the year.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 192 lbs., Hoffman has drawn (unfair) Justin Verlander comparisons because of his big mid-90s fastball, upper-70s hammer curveball, and fading mid-80s changeup. The curveball and changeup still need consistency, but, on his best days, Hoffman shows mid-90s gas and two put-away offspeed pitches. It’s ace stuff. No doubt about it. Despite very good athleticism, his delivery can fall out of whack and his command is spotty. That was especially true this spring, though that could be the result of the arm issues. Hoffman draws praise for having a bit of a mean streak on the mound and pitching aggressively.

Miscellany
MLB.com, Baseball America, and Law (subs. req’d) ranked Hoffman as the fourth, fifth, and sixth best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. He was very much in the conversation for the first overall pick before blowing out his elbow, and the injury figures to end his chances of going that high. There is too much quality pitching in this draft for a team drafting that high to take an injured player.

The Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) and having a top talent like Hoffman fall into their laps would be a dream, injury or not. They never get a shot at players like this. Andrew Brackman and Lucas Giolito (16th overall in 2012) are recent examples of top five talents who fell due to elbow concerns, though both had Tommy John surgery after signing, not a month before the draft. The late Nick Adenhart blew out his elbow in his final high school start and fell from likely first rounder to the 14th round. The draft has changed quite a bit since then, however.

My guess is the Yankees would jump all over Hoffman if he fell to that 55th pick and worry about how to pay him later. I assume he would still look for top five money, which is $3.5M+. The Yankees are slotted for only $3.2M for the top ten rounds. There’s too much talent to pass up though, and failing to sign a second round pick wouldn’t sting as much as failing to sign a first rounder. I bet a team with extra picks (Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cardinals, Royals) rolls the dice before the Yankees even get a chance to take him.

Categories : Draft
Comments (9)

Three days ago, in his latest clunker of a start, CC Sabathia failed to get out of the fourth inning. Joe Girardi gave the ball to his long man du jour, which meant the start of Alfredo Aceves‘ second tour of duty in pinstripes. The team signed him at the end of Spring Training to provide Triple-A depth after Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and David Phelps all made the MLB bullpen.

Aceves, now 31, was outstanding in relief of Sabathia, holding the Rays to three singles in 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out five and getting five ground ball outs compared to two in the air. He threw 72 pitches in those 5.1 innings, five fewer than Sabathia threw in 3.2 innings. The circumstances were unfortunate, but Aceves gave the team a real shot in the arm by soaking up so many innings and sparing the key relievers.

That type of performance was something the Yankees were not getting out of their long relievers for the first five weeks of the season. Girardi’s top relievers — David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances, Warren — have been truly outstanding so far this year (Kelley’s recent hiccup notwithstanding), but the other two bullpen spots have been both problematic and a revolving door. Preston Claiborne has been fine lately, but still. Look at this:

IP BF HR K% BB% ERA FIP
Top Five Relievers 64.1 260 1 27.7% 8.8% 1.96 2.15
Everyone Else 37.2 191 8 22.5% 12.6% 7.41 5.50

I get that just about every team has crappy pitchers filling out the final two bullpen spots at any given time, but man that is a huge difference. Girardi’s top five relievers have been dominant. The other guys, the Claibornes and Chris Lerouxes and Bruce Billingses and Shane Greenes have been just terrible. Those numbers include Aceves’ strong work too, so imagine how much worse they were before Sunday. (No need to imagine: 8.63 ERA.)

A good long reliever is usually a luxury — Warren was quite good by long man standards last season — except right now it’s much more of a necessity for the Yankees. Because Nuno and Phelps are not fully stretched out and both Sabathia and (until last night) Hiroki Kuroda have been shaky, the club has gotten fewer than five full innings from their starter five times of the last 12 games. That’s bad. The rotation is giving the team no length at all.

With the rotation being such a weakness and no help on the way for the foreseeable future, the Yankees have two options. Either lean heavily on their oh so excellent late-inning relievers and risk burning them out, or find a competent long man. In Aceves, they might actually have that competent long man. No, he can’t pitch every day, but he’s certainly capable of soaking up three or four innings twice a week if need by. Leroux couldn’t do that. Neither could Greene or Billings.

Of course, there’s also a chance Aceves will pitch his way into the rotation. All he has to do is be better than Nuno andor Phelps and, well, that’s not really a high bar. Girardi told Chad Jennings that “anytime someone pitches well over distance, it’s going to trigger a thought” when asked about making Aceves a starter. You don’t need to try real hard to see him pitching his way into the rotation. In that case Nuno or Phelps would move into the long man role, which is still an upgrade over the other guys.

We need to be careful not to make too much of Aceves’ outing the other day. It’s unlikely the 2009 Aceves just showed up to the park that morning and is here to stay. Remember, he was throwing low-leverage innings against a lineup that was put together to hit a lefty in Sabathia, not a righty. Aceves was pretty terrible the last two years (4.95 FIP in MLB and 5.44 FIP in Triple-A) and that doesn’t go away because he was awesome for the World Series team a few years ago. He’s got to prove himself a bit. If he can be an effective multi-inning guy, the rest of the bullpen would fall right into place.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
Comments (27)
  • Yankees outright Chris Leroux to Triple-A Scranton
    By

    Right-hander Chris Leroux has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees designated him for assignment to make room on the roster for Al Aceves over the weekend. Chris Cotillo says Leroux accepted the assignment  and will join the RailRiders. He’s got an MLB salary coming to him for the rest of the season, electing free agency would have forfeited that.

    Leroux, 30, had a disaster outing in the 14th inning of last Friday’s game, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks. He got off to a rough start in Triple-A before being called up (12.79 ERA), but that was only 6.1 innings. Leroux looked very good in Spring Training and even though he stunk last week, it’s not the worst thing that he’s sticking around to soak up some Triple-A innings.
    · (4) ·

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Through the first month or so of the season, I’m not sure anyone on the roster has been more disappointing than Brian McCann. The backstop has started his Yankees career with a 56 wRC+ in the first five-ish weeks, which ranks 177th out of 188 qualified hitters and dead last out of 15 qualified catchers. Chris Stewart had a 58 wRC+ last season, remember. The Yankees basically swapped Stewart for a balder, more expensive version in McCann. He’s been that bad so far.

As the fine broadcasters at the YES Network are wont to remind us day after day, inning after inning, the infield shift is widespread throughout baseball these days and McCann is one of its most popular targets. He was one of the most shifted against hitters in baseball last season and the same is true again so far this year. That was to be expected. Other teams weren’t going to stop shifting against McCann just because he was wearing a new uniform.

The shift has taken more than a few hits away from McCann this season and again, that is expected. Teams wouldn’t shift if they didn’t work. His .204 BABIP is a career low, especially when compared to his other healthy seasons (.234 before shoulder surgery in 2012), and down quite a bit from last season’s .261 BABIP. This isn’t all because of the shift — 8.3% of his plate appearances have ended with an infield pop-up this year, the fifth highest rate in baseball. Infield pop-ups are pretty much automatic outs and death to BABIP. His career pop-up rate prior to 2014 was only 4.0%, so this is way out of the norm.

Between the increased pop-up rate, the career low (by far) 3.5% walk rate, the career high (by far) 34.8% swing rate on pitches out of the zone*, and the ol’ eye test, I’m pretty comfortable saying McCann is pressing like hell at the plate. He’s trying to squeeze sap out of the bat. It happens. New team, new city, fat new contract, no beard, it’s understandable. Players press. McCann isn’t the first and he sure as hell won’t be the last. We’ve seen flashes of the productive power-hitting catcher the Yankees signed, but he hasn’t shown up consistently yet. It’ll happen, hopefully very soon.

* McCann’s strikeout rate (11.3%) is far below the league average and his best since 2008, so it’s not like he’s having trouble putting the ball in play.

Getting back on track, other clubs have been shifting against McCann quite a bit this season and lately it seems like he’s making an effort to go the other way. He’s always been a dead pull power hitter and that’s a big reason why he was so attractive to the Yankees, but lately I feel like we’ve seen more attempts to go to the opposite field. It doesn’t always work, but the attempt is there. Remember this?

McCann had three hits in that game and all three were to left field. I remember he ripped a line drive foul ball in that direction as well. Obviously a double to the wall is an extreme example of beating the shift by going the other way, but McCann did attempt a simple bunt towards third base to beat the shift on Monday. Here’s the play if you didn’t stay up late for the West Coast game:


The bunt went foul — it’s not easy to bunt Major League pitching, you know — but McCann made the attempt. He tried to beat the shift in the most basic way possible: by rolling the ball to where the defenders aren’t standing. That’s all a bunt is.

I didn’t watch enough of McCann during his time with the Braves to know whether these attempts to beat the shift are new or something he’s been trying for years. I would greatly prefer the former and hope this is a new development. Thankfully, we can check that. With an assist to the intimidatingly great Baseball Savant, here are some numbers on McCann’s tendencies to pull the ball or hit it the other way over the last few seasons. The table doesn’t include last night’s game because stupid West Coast:

Total Pitches Pulled Away Pitches Pulled Total Pitches Other Way Away Pitches Other Way
2014 7.7% 5.6% 7.3% 8.5%
2013 9.6% 8.4% 4.7% 4.4%
2012 9.7% 8.6% 5.0% 4.5%
2011 8.9% 7.3% 4.5% 4.7%

First, some explanations are in order:

  • Total Pitches Pulled: Percentage of all pitches pulled to the right side of the infield or to right field. McCann saw 452 pitches prior to last night and he pulled 35 of them to the right side of the field, or 7.7%.
  • Away Pitches Pulled: Percentage of pitches on the outer third or off the plate away that were pulled to the right side. McCann saw 270 pitches in those locations and pulled 15 of them to the right side, or 5.6%.
  • Total Pitches Other Way and Away Pitches Other Way are the same thing, only with pitches that were hit towards the left side of the infield or left field. Got it? Easy enough.

This season, either consciously or through the mirage of small sample size, McCann has been pulling fewer pitches to the right side of the field. He’s going the other way more often and that is especially true with pitches away from him, the ones you’re supposed to serve to the opposite field for a Nice Piece of Hitting. More than a few players (coughMarkTeixeiracough) will still try to pull those pitches and wind up rolling over on them, hitting a weak grounder right into the teeth of the shift.

We’ve seen McCann roll over on outside pitches this year, everyone does it, but he is doing it less often than he had the last few years. He’s taking those pitches to left field nearly twice as often as he had from 2011-12. I’m not going to bother looking at inside pitches because inside pitches are supposed to be pulled and pulled for power. Not everyone is Derek Jeter, who is going to the Hall of Fame because of his ability to pull his hands in and drive those pitches the other way. You want McCann to pull inside pitches because that’s how he can do some real damage.

Anyway, this is good! I think. We still need to wait a few more weeks to make sure this newfound tendency to go the other way is not just sample size noise, which is always possible. The data matches what my eyes were telling me though. McCann is indeed trying to hit the ball the other way more often. That could absolutely be contributing to his early season slump too. It’s a change in approach and sometimes those changes take time. McCann’s been hitting one way his entire life and now he appears to be changing it up. Of course there are going to be some bumps in the road.

Are teams going to stop shifting McCann because he’s hitting the ball the other way more often? Nope. Here are his spray charts. He still a pull-first hitter who yanks a ton of ground balls and line drives to the right side of the field and teams will stack their defense accordingly. McCann does appear to be making an attempt to go the other way more, particularly with pitches on the outer third of the plate. That will change how teams pitch him more than the defensive alignment. The most important thing is that he is hitting more balls away from the shift. The first few weeks of McCann’s tenure in New York have been ugly, no doubt about it, but there seems to be some serious work going on behind the scenes, and that could have positive results in time.

Categories : Analysis, Offense
Comments (118)
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