As of this writing, the Yankees are a bad team. Over the past two weeks, they are – by winning percentage – the third worst team in baseball. It’s no secret, to be sure, but it still feels strange to put it in writing, and see the words staring back at me. The worst part of it may well be that the Yankees are bad at everything right now.
How did we get here?
The Yankees are batting .223/.280/.327 in their last 12 games. That’s a 69 wRC+, good for 28th in the Majors over that time. They’re four points behind the 27th place Dodgers in that metric, so we can’t spin it to say that they’re bunched up with several other teams, either. The team’s .104 ISO is 29th over that same time, ahead of only the lowly Braves. That mark is particularly egregious, as well, as six of those twelve games were in the Bronx, with the other six coming in hitter-friendly Fenway Park and Globe Life Park in Arlington. This may be due to the team’s 27.8% hard-hit percentage, which ranks 26th in the league. And the once patient offense also ranks 26th in BB%.
During this time, Alex Rodriguez (172 wRC+), Starlin Castro (132), and Jacoby Ellsbury (121) have been quite good (if not great). The next-best hitter, however, is Austin Romine, with an 86 wRC+ in 10 PA. Then come Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner, both sporting a 64 wRC+. The team’s fourth and fifth best hitter’s have slashed a combined .206/.301/.269 in the last two weeks.
Add that all together, and the Yankees are dead last in runs over the last two weeks, with 32 – six behind the 29th place Braves. That’s 2.4 R/G. And the pitching staff has been equally as offensive, pitching to a 5.31 ERA.
Masahiro Tanaka posted two strong starts in that span, and Nathan Eovaldi spun a gem. Despite this, the Yankees starters have a 5.08 ERA during this stretch, as CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino combined to allow 25 ER in 35.2 IP.
The justifiably hyped bullpen has been even worse, with a 5.73 ERA. Andrew Miller has been lights out in five appearances, and Kirby Yates and Nick Goody have performed well, too. The rest of the bullpen has allowed 22 ER in 24.2 IP – that’s an 8.03 ERA. And, as Stacey recently pointed out, not even Dellin Betances has been immune to this stretch of horrors.
To be fair, the Yankees defense has almost certainly hindered the efforts of the pitching staff. The team ranks 26th in UZR/150 at this juncture, and 28th in Defense Runs Saved. Or, if you prefer non-advanced metrics on this side of the ball, the team has made 6 errors in the last twelve games – a number that does not include some notably poor routes taken by Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks. And this from a team that has largely prioritized defense over the last few years.
An obvious caveat applies here – it’s only May 3rd. Twelve games represents just over 7% of the season, and the team has been bad in the early goings before. The staff’s ERA is more than a run above its FIP, and nearly two runs ahead of its xFIP. Despite the hideous ERA, the pitchers are still 1st in the Majors in GB% during this stretch, 2nd in BB/9, and 12th in K/9. And the defense should rebound, given the reputations and histories of … well … everyone, save for Carlos Beltran.
There is reason for hope when the Yankees take the field.
The offense, however, remains incredibly disconcerting. This may well be a prolonged cold spell (it has been below-average for most of the season, after all) – but this is an older team, with only two regulars under the age of 32. I do not expect this group to continue to battle for a spot in the bottom third of all offenses, but its days as a top-tier team may be over.
Again, though, I am not panicking. And you shouldn’t, either. If that time does come, it will be a few weeks from now, if not a couple of months. But the frustration is palpable at this point, and a glass half-empty approach is more than reasonable. Continue reading The Anatomy of Losing 9 of 12