A glimpse at right field through WAR

In turning the WAR page to right field, the first thought that pops into my mind is proven-Yankee-destroyer Jose Bautista, who not only leads all right fielders in WAR, but has been a top-10 player in the entire American League, according to bWAR (5.4). Undoubtedly, the Blue Jays would be hard-pressed to find that kind of prolific offensive contribution anywhere else given that his 70 oRAR and 6.9 oWAR are both the highest in the league. With that being said, a number of other right fielders have also had very solid seasons including our very own, Nick Swisher.

Clearly this has been a special year for Bautista, whose offensive numbers have skyrocketed past his competition. However, if we were to remove his incredible oWAR from the data set, it dramatically alters the conversation. Instead we find ourselves discussing other traditionally outstanding players like Jayson Werth and up-and-coming stars like Jason Heyward, who both posted great offensive stats (which have earned them 4.9 and 3.6 WARs, respectively).… Click here to read the rest

Cervelli Stance Change

Francisco Cervelli has long been the whipping boy for Yankee fans.  It’s not really his fault: he’s a backup catcher, and good hitting backup catchers are hard to come by unless you’re the Cincinnati Reds, so perhaps the biggest problem with Cervelli is that he’s gotten so much playing time this season.  Cervelli’s year has been quite the rollercoaster, a study in how shifts in BABIP can affect the results.  By playing a little arbitrary start and endpoint game, we can see how his season has been divided into very good and very bad.

Start of season to May 31st: 120 PAs, .320/.388/.400, 0.364 BABIP

June 1st to August 27: 145 PAs, .178/.254/.217, 0.215 BABIP

August 29 to present: 47 PAs, .441/.587/.529, 0.517 BABIP

The simplest and easiest answer here to explain his recent surge is to assume that he’s just getting more good fortune on balls in play like he did when the season started.  In all probability, this is the best explanation.… Click here to read the rest

Adios Javy, it’s been (not particularly) nice knowing you

Home Run JavyAfter his latest in a seemingly never-ending string of pitching debacles, Javier Vazquez has almost certainly lost whatever remaining supporters he may have still had in Yankeeland. While the Vazquez reacquisition was met with both praise and scorn last December, it was hard to argue logically that the deal didn’t made sense.

Although I myself was slightly dubious about Javier’s pending success in New York, I cast my doubts aside. Instead I argued that trading for Vazquez a second time was one of Brian Cashman’s smarter decisions. Regardless of how any of us felt about Javy, he was a good pitcher in actuality and was just coming off a Cy Young-caliber year. Considering the unlikelihood of the Yankees’ entrusting two rotation spots to both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, it made sense for the Yankees to try and reacquire the veteran innings-eater. At the very least, it seemed reasonable to expect somewhere in the vicinity of 200 league-average innings.

The outlay on the Yankees’ end was minimal — the hacktastic Melky Cabrera was eminently disposable.… Click here to read the rest

Pitching Frustrations in Last Night’s Game

During last night’s game, I found myself rather frustrated by the Yankees’ pitchers.

Javier Vazquez’s performance–which could be his last innings as a Yankee–was the cherry on top of the disappointment sundae that has been 2010 for Mr. Vazquez. He was one out away from giving up just four runs in 4.2 innings, but a hanging curveball to Aaron Hill changed that. I was sad for Javy that he gave up that blast, but there was a bit of anger in me. Granted, that anger had little to do with Vazquez and everything to do with the hitter: I have an irrational hatred for Aaron Hill. I don’t know why; I don’t know where it comes from…I just hate the dude.

Encouragingly enough, Javy did manage to get six swings-and-misses last night, but that’s just looking on the super bright side. As I’ve said many times, it’s just sad, and borderline painful, to see the 2010 version of Javier Vazquez. Many will stand up and say, “See?… Click here to read the rest

Open-Mindedness and Overreach

Let me elaborate on that last point a bit. I’m not sure who has votes on the A.L. Cy Young this year, so it’s hard to guess at who is going to win. I seem to think Felix has a better chance than most do, but that’s really neither here nor there. My point is, I think the “old-school” writers made a mistake by even picking this fight, in the long run.

If I had to guess, I’d imagine that a lot of this is an angry response to last year’s Cy Young results, especially since Adam Wainwright would have won in the National League if Keith Law hadn’t voted for Javier Vazquez. I think that caught a lot of people off guard, and there’s been a more conscious effort to get out in front of that in the A.L. voting this year. The problem the anti-Felix crowd is having, though, is that they’ve picked such an absurd hill to plant their flag on, in the long run they’re undermining their goal, no matter if they win this battle.… Click here to read the rest

Does Joel Sherman read TYU?

Odd thing happened yesterday. I was reading Joel’s latest article on AJ Burnett and something struck me as very familiar.

On Tuesday, September 28 I posted this:

By contrast, Cervelli has been AJ Burnett’s personal catcher, logging 23 of his 33 starts behind the dish. When Burnett is on the mound, opponents have stolen 36 bases this year, which is the highest of any pitcher in all of Baseball. AJ has also logged 15 wild pitches (#2 in AL) and hit 16 batters (1st in AL) to go with his 75 Walks (7th in AL). When a pitcher is that wild, it makes it that much harder for the catcher to catch and throw to 2B.

On Wednesday, September 29 Joel had this passage in his article:

Burnett’s strikeout rate is down to 6.97 per nine innings, which is actually lower than Vazquez (7.13). His opposing OPS is .823, which means he turns the average hitter against him into Torii Hunter.
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Brett Cecil becomes Majors' winningest pitcher against 2010 Yankees in Blue Jay rout; A-Rod hits 30-HR plateau for 13th straight season

It may say Managing General Partner next to Hal Steinbrenner’s name, but it is in fact 24-year-old Brett Cecil who actually owns the New York Yankees. Cecil led the Blue Jays to a 8-3 romp of New York, picking up his Major League-leading fourth win against the Yankees in 2010 and improving to 4-0 in five starts against the Bombers this season. The win was no surprise whatsoever considering the Yankees haven’t been able to do anything of note against Cecil all year and have done nothing but struggle against slow-throwing pitchers of his ilk.

It obviously didn’t help the Yankees’ cause that they were starting soon-to-be-former-Yankee Javier Vazquez, who did his best A.J. Burnett impression in giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. The more you think about it, it’s actually pretty incredible that the Yankees ended up making it to the postseason with 40% of their Opening Day five-man rotation pitching to a 5.00-plus ERA in more than 350 innings.… Click here to read the rest

Game 159: Yankees 4, Blue Jays 8

In the bottom of the fifth, Yunel Escobar singled to left.  He moved to second on a groundout by Jose Bautista.  With two outs, Vazquez walked Lyle Overbay and Hill connected with a big homer to left, giving Toronto a big 7-0 lead.  Vazquez’s night was done and Royce Ring came in to get out of the inning.

Despite the big hole, the Yankees offense finally struck back in the top of the sixth.  Sparked by a lead off homer by Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees rallied.  A pitch hit Robinson Cano and Austin Kearns worked a walk.  Francisco Cervelli singled to right, bringing Cano home.  Greg Golson then singled to right, scoring Kearns.  Jeter singled to load the bases with just one out, but Hill fielded Nick Swisher’s hard grounder for an inning ending double play.   Still, the Yankees were back in the game, with the score at 7-3.

The Blue Jays got a run back in the seventh.  With Joba Chamberlain on the mound Vernon Wells reached on a throwing error by Rodriguez. … Click here to read the rest