Friday, April 10, 2015

As Gardner & Ellsbury Go, the Yankees Go

It’s pretty early in the season but just after a series in the books for the Yankees it looks like runs will once again come at a premium in the Bronx. New York may once again finish without a 100 RBI guy or a .300 batter and the team may have to manufacture almost every run they score this season. I’m not standing here telling you that the sky is falling or that I am ready to jump off the bandwagon now, I’m not, that’s just how the team was built. The team was built with speed, defense and were built for small ball. Looking at the first Yankees victory of the season Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays it looks like as Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury goes, the Yankees will go in 2015.

This theory makes sense on paper because Ellsbury and Gardner hit #1 and #2 in the batting order and are considered to be the table setters for the lineup. Mixing in a speedy guy like Didi Gregorius at the bottom of the order only helps in the later innings when the Yankees turn the order over and bring up these two with runners on base. Ellsbury and Gardner will both take their walks and both have the on base numbers to be serviceable leadoff hitters for this team. Gardner’s power surge of the past couple of seasons, his strikeouts and his lack of trust in his own base stealing game (I assume anyway by what I see on the field) has dropped him into the second slot replacing the great Derek Jeter in the lineup. The fact of the matter is whoever is hitting first and whoever is hitting second doesn’t matter, what matters is if they get on base.

If these two get on base they can steal bases and create havoc with their legs. The pitcher has to constantly keep a mindful eye on both of these runners while on first and second base which may lead to a ball being left up or a slider simply spinning over the plate. The fact that both of these players can usually score from first on a double also adds to their importance with the middle of the order coming up. None of Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley or Brian McCann are going to come anywhere near hitting .300 this season but all of them can come reasonably close to 75-100 RBI each if Gardner and Ellsbury are on base when they do connect or hit a home run.

As the top two hitters in the Yankees lineup go the Yankees will go. If Ellsbury has a 0-4 night or Gardner strikes out swinging three times in a night, and both will happen, then the Yankees will struggle to score unless the big boppers hit home runs. That’s just baseball and that is how teams that don’t want on the “too many damn home runs” play the game. So while you’re watching the game watch these two closely and you just may know the outcome before it happens and you too can become a Yankees Wizard just like I was deemed in 2014. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)