Notable Numerals: Yankees’ Struggles
By Brian Phair
In honor of this past weekend’s sweep of the New York Yankees in the Bronx and the Yankees 6th straight loss on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays, this week’s column will take a slightly different path. Often, this space is devoted to Red Sox accomplishments (or struggles), but this week will be devoted to the evil empire’s struggles. There were no shortage of headlines in the Big Apple this weekend, the biggest coming from Jorge Posada’s controversial departure from the lineup prior to Saturday’s game. In this column, I’ll be sure to take a look at the long-time Yankees catcher and his poor 2011 season thus far at age 39 as well as several other team stats that tell the whole story. Without further ado, here is this week’s edition of Notable Numerals, with a focus on the New York Yankees.
Batting average in their last 6 games. The one consistent theme coming out of the Bronx over the last decade has been powerful offense. The Yankees have had some impressively talented and powerful hitters in their lineup each and every year, making them nearly impossible to match-up against. This season has been anything but impressive for the Bronx Bombers, with the past 6 games being a much greater struggle. The team relies on home runs for their offense, which has led to some of their struggles as of late. They have 7 home runs in their last 6 games, but on the season are now hitting a measly .236 with runners in scoring position. If there is only a runner on 2B, the team is hitting an even worse .160 average. They have seen some surprise dominant power from Curtis Granderson this season, but it isn’t nearly enough to make-up for the team’s lack of clutch hitting, which has been a trademark of the team for more than a decade.
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LOB in last 6 games. This number directly links back to the .227 batting average mentioned above. The team is struggling to hit with runners in scoring position and are inexplicably poor in the batter’s box late in games, unlike in the past. The team is hitting just .207 from innings 7 through 9 in 2011, while they are hitting at a .263 pace in innings 1-3 and a .264 pace in innings 4-6. That drop has caused several blown leads and the inability for the team to comeback from a 1 or 2 run deficit late. How many times over the past several years can you remember the Yankees coming back to tie a game or take the lead late? It’s countless, because of how impressive their lineup has been and how explosive they could be at any moment. This season, they are hitting just .191 in the 7th inning, .239 in the 8th inning, and just .191 in the 9th inning, lacking almost all clutch ability. It will be a long season for the Yankees if they leave this many men on base…just ask the Red Sox.
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Ks in 6 games. This may be the most telling stat in terms of comfort at the plate for this year’s Yankees. Over the past 6 games, strikeouts numbers have been high, averaging 7.5 per game, which is higher than their season average of 6.9 per game. Granted the Yankees have faced some solid pitching with the likes of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and David Price on the mound, but regardless of who has been pitching, the team has been unable to get over the hump and score enough runs to win. No regular player in the Yankees lineup is hitting at a .300 level, the closest being Robinson Cano at .286, and some of the bigger-named stars in the lineup have had stretches where the really struggled to get anything going consistently (i.e. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter). Jorge Posada has been hitting poorly as well, but is another story all together with an awful season thus far all around. If the Yankees hope to turn things around, cutting down on their K numbers is a place to start.
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OBP for Jorge Posada this season. This season has been a complete embarrassment for the 39-year old Yankees catcher, both on the field and in the clubhouse. He is hitting .165 with 6 home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games. He currently has the lowest batting average, OBP, OPS, and slugging percentage since 1996, when he only played part of the season in the major leagues. On top of his poor offensive numbers, he created a stir off the field this past weekend, when after being dropped to 9th in the batting order, took himself out of the Yankees lineup. There were stories abound about a back injury, but his manager and GM had no knowledge of any injury. The whole situation was poorly handled and his reputation certainly took a bit of a hit in the eyes of many around the league. It created a distraction that raised more than a few eyebrows. His future is uncertain, but for now, don’t count on Posada to provide much of a spark (or anything for that matter) in the batter’s box.
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Run differential in their 6-game losing streak. All of the statistics in the world can give you a picture of the Yankees recent struggles, but to paraphrase John Madden, if you don’t score runs, you can’t win. The Yankees have averaged 3.67 runs per game over their last 6 contests, which isn’t horrible, but isn’t good enough to compete in the AL East. More important than the runs they have scored were the runs they have allowed. Opponents are averaging 6.5 runs per game in this stretch against the Bronx Bombers, which is a testament to their inconsistent pitching. For the most part, the blame rests on the starting rotation for the Yankees. With a struggling offense, it is hard to make up a 6-run performance from your starter, even with near perfect ‘pen performances. In the past 3 games, the Yankees starters have allowed 16 runs. Throw in 3 earned runs from Joba Chamberlain in his last 2 appearances and it is easy to see where the issues rest for the Yankees pitching staff.
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