Sunday, June 14, 2015

Finding Ways To Keep Scoring

The Yankees current losing streak made me take another look at the stats. And while I was originally looking to see why the Yankees seem to be so streaky, in both a good and bad way, things unsurprisingly went a different direction.

"Hey, look at that!"

I've done this before, too. I'll start to see some of the things that have gone good or bad recently, which may explain why things are going the way they are, but inevitably I drop that subject because it's pointless. Not because what I found is right or wrong, but because I'm falling into the small sample size trap.

I can say "the Yankees offense stinks recently because they aren't making as much contact as they should." Which is all well and good, but I'm talking about maybe a sample size of eight to ten games, and that sample size is hardly something to get worked up over. Whether we're talking about the worst hitters or the best hitters, each of them can get hot or cold for a week or two. So what's the point?

Then why do I keep falling into the same trap? Simple... because eventually I stumble across something that makes me say "a-ha!"

What I found this time is what the Yankees' offense needs to do to improve.

While the pitching isn't always stellar, I'm not worried about them. At least I'm not worried about what Yankee pitching can do when healthy, and since it's nearly impossible to predict injuries I see no point in wasting my time worrying about it.

"No, I don't want to talk about that elbow."

However, scoring runs has been a concern for the Yankees long before the season actually began. And sure, it seems to be okay, seeing as how the team is 3rd in Major League Baseball in runs scored. but I think that hides the fact that it could still be the thing that spells doom to their season.

The Yankees have scored the bulk of their runs thanks to power. While the team is ranked 4th in both Slugging Percentage and Isolated Power, they are 17th in Batting Average and 12th in On Base Percentage.

EDIT: When copying and pasting parts of this article, this bit got lost...

The team leaders in home runs are Mark Teixeira (17), Alex Rodriguez (12), Brian McCann (9), and Stephen Drew (9). That means Teixeira is on pace for over 40 home runs, ARod is on pace for around 30, McCann could hit around 25, and Drew could end the season with over 20. Out of all those things, the only one I'd bet anything on happening would be McCann reaching 25. So counting on the team being able to score like they have been would not be smart.

Another thing to consider when thinking about the Yankees offense is their swing percentage, which is 27th in the league. Whether it's pitches in the strike zone, or pitches outside the strike zone, this team doesn't like to swing a lot. And while some may say that they simply have to swing at more pitches, allow me to point out that their contact percentages when they do swing are among the league's worst too. So I don't think we want them to swing more.

The Yankees are not going to raise their batting average enough to make their offense a threat. Mark Teixeira is not going to hit much higher than he is now. Nor will Brian McCann, Alex Rodriguez, and just about everybody else in the lineup.

What the team needs to do is get on base more often, and be able to steal bases or take the extra base at every opportunity.

That's the biggest reason why Carlos Beltran is such a detriment to this team. Because not only does he have the second worst OBP out of the regular players, but he's also a station-to-station runner when he does get on (only takes the extra base 25% of the time, and doesn't steal). Combine that with horrible range on defense, and you have a guy that should rarely step foot on the field.

Another problem player, which should come as no surprise to anybody that's been watching Yankee baseball this season, is Stephen Drew. Not only is the guy doing next to nothing at the plate (lowest batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+ among the regulars), but he only takes an extra base 8% of the time.

So besides something drastic, like cutting those two and dealing for somebody else, here's what the Yankees should do...

First of all, keep Didi Gregorius at shortstop. His offense and defense have improved lately, and he's no slouch on the basepaths. He'll take an extra base 54% of the time. So as long as he gets on base the chances of him scoring a pretty good.

Secondly, Gregorio Petit should start at second base over Stephen Drew. He might not hit much better than Drew, especially in the home run department, but Petit is a great runner. He actually leads the team in taking the extra base, as he does so 60% of the time, which is so much higher than Drew that the team is bound to score more with Gregorio.

On that note, with the right match-up, I can see starting Drew since he can pop a homer every now and then. But most of the time Petit should be the man.

Finally, Joe Girardi should put Slade Heathcott back into the lineup for Carlos Beltran as soon as possible. Not only has Slade out-hit Beltran in every way conceivable since being promoted, but he's also a far superior runner, having taken an extra base 50% of the time.

"Oh, yeah... and his defense is a touch better than Beltran's too."

By putting Heathcott, Gregorius, and Petit at the bottom of the order, there's a very good chance that somebody that can run well will be on base for the team's best hitters... Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury (hopefully he'll return soon), and the heart of the order. Which should lead to more runs, and most importantly more wins.


  1. First and foremost, you're crazy.

    Drew should be off the team but it shouldn't be for Gregorio Petit, that's for sure. He is as much of a black hole if not more than Drew is. Drew runs into one every once in a while and puts it over the fence, the only time Petit gets on base is if he runs into one literally.

    I agree with the getting on base and stealing bases thing which makes the return of Ellsbury all the more important.

    1. I'm not a Petit fan, but I'd rather see him in the than Drew. I could be wrong thanks to Drew hitting a home run every once in a while, but like I said... I don't expect him to keep that up.


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