Pitchers are taking advantage of Gardner’s passivity.

Last week, I wondered if at least some of Brett Gardner‘s noted patience isn’t simply a matter of straight-pitch taking, and if that wasn’t getting him into some trouble as pitchers made an effort to throw him more first pitch strikes, anticipating that he wouldn’t swing. After another week and six more games, the answer to that question seems to be a pretty obvious yes.

After 36 plate appearances over 9 games, Gardner has seen a first pitch strike in 69.4% of his plate appearances, with a swing and a miss accounting for just 4.2% of strikes against him. Additionally, 53.6% of all pitches Gardner has seen this year have been in the strike zone, compared to 48.3% of the pitches he saw in 2010. At this point, we’re seeing a clear trend emerge; pitchers are pounding the zone against Gardner, and the Yankees lead off hitter simply isn’t adjusting to this change at this point.

The results have not been pretty thus far. Gardner is hitting just .167/.265/.267 through the Yankees first 9 games. To change that, Gardner is simply going to have to start putting more balls in play early in the count to force pitchers to be more honest when he comes to the plate. Continue reading Pitchers are taking advantage of Gardner’s passivity.

Yankees vs. Orioles I: The Buck stops here

The Yankees (5-4, tied for 2nd) host the surprising Orioles (6-3, 1st place) for a three-gamer at Yankee Stadium beginning tonight, with Baltimore coming into a series with New York playing better baseball than their AL East rivals for the first time in quite a while. While the season is of course still quite young, what the Orioles have done thus far can’t be ignored, and with the Yankee offense suddenly looking lost at sea along with continued uncertainty about the performances the Bombers will receive from their starters, the Orioles have an opportunity to make a strong early statement Continue reading Yankees vs. Orioles I: The Buck stops here

Trying to relax on Jeter and Posada

The Yankees have been clubbing a bunch of home runs and scoring a bunch of runs, but that doesn’t mean the offense has been without fault. As Larry’s pointed out a few times on Twitter, the offense isn’t working its way on base as frequently as we’re used to. And, as we’ve seen, most of the Yankee runs are coming from the home run. Granted, that will change as things even out and as the Yankees’ crazy low .242 BABIP corrects itself. Long term, I’m not worried about the offense. Breaking it down on an individual level, there are concerns. Continue reading Trying to relax on Jeter and Posada

Everything you wanted to know about small samples but were afraid to ask

Readers of this site are probably aware that you can’t read too much into statistics this early in the season because players have only given us a small sample of data to work with. The concept is that there isn’t enough data in a small sample to make an informed conclusion about the data that is available. This is technically true, but one of my biggest pet peeves in baseball analysis is that analysts seldom, if ever, define the population of data they are sampling and therefore do not actually prove that the sample is small. This drives me up Continue reading Everything you wanted to know about small samples but were afraid to ask

Manny Ramirez Should Be In The Hall of Fame

When word came that Manny Ramirez was retiring because he’d failed another drug test, my first thought was “he’ll never get into the Hall of Fame now.” Then I realized he probably had a better chance of falling off of the ballot altogether in his first year than of ever being enshrined. And you know what? That’s really sad.

Whatever you thought of Manny, one thing was never up for debate; the man could hit a baseball better than almost anyone who ever lived. His career OPS+ of 154 is tied with Frank Robinson for 25th all-time, and he finished his career with a .312/.411/.585 slash line and 555 home runs. By any measure of performance the man is a Hall of Famer.

Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame electorate has taken it upon themselves to act as the ex post facto jury for legislating PED crimes, clearly declaring that, for now, no one associated with the taint of steroid usage (at least among players who primarily played post-strike, anyway, or weren’t extremely well liked. Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken Jr. need not worry about suffering the wrath of the BBWAA) will sully the sanctity of the Cooperstown establishment. Even Buster Olney, who has loudly proclaimed his support for Mark McGwire’s candidacy, has said he won’t vote for Manny.

This is a crock. Baseball has a system of punishment in place for violating its banned substance policy, and it does not involve ineligibility for Cooperstown. By the same token, I can’t think of any other rule-breaking that evokes similar outrage from Hall of Fame voters. You’re infamous for illegally doctoring the baseball as a pitcher? Not only will you get in the Hall of Fame, we’ll all have a good laugh about your vast array of rule breaking for years to come. You’re suspected of using a banned (or not even officially banned) chemical substance during a portion of your career? No Hall for you!

Whatever the Hall of Fame should be, one thing it shouldn’t be is a final punishment for rule breaking. The Hall isn’t about holding out some final consequence for breaking a rule or sinning against the game in some abstract sense, it’s about remembering and immortalizing the greatest baseball players of all-time and all eras. At least until we have some concrete proof that steroids drastically increase offensive production, the idea that one of the top 30 hitters in the long and storied history of baseball has a better chance of not being on the ballot in his second year of eligibility than of ever making it into the Hall is a shame, and an outrage. Continue reading Manny Ramirez Should Be In The Hall of Fame

Comment of the day: “We are Yankee fans”

This might be my favorite comment in quite a while, from biscuit pants:

…we are Yankee fans.

We don’t need to debase ourselves by attacking the integrity of Kevin Youkilis or anyone else. Red Sox fans still have a 1918-complex that makes them hate us personally, but we are better than that.

We should not act like them, because we are not like them.

A Yankee fan’s favorite chant is “Let’s go Yankees.” A Red Sox fan’s favorite chant is “Yankees suck.”

A Yankee fan looks at this series and says, “Okay, we lost a series. We are now one game out of first place. Let’s go beat the Orioles.” A Red Sox fan looks at this series and says, “The first six losses are okay, because we beat the Yankees in Fenway.”

That’s why they all remember the Roberts steal and the bloody sock game more than anything that happened in the 2004 world series.

Red Sox fans always hated Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi and every other great Yankee. But we had nothing but the utmost respect for the likes of Pedro and Manny. We welcomed Johnny Damon with open arms, even after he’d embarrassed us with that grand slam in game 7.

So was Youkilis’ slide a dirty play? Absolutely. And it was rightly called interference. But if we call him a whiner, it just turns us into them.

To steal a line from Boston homer Bill Simmons: Yep, these are my readers. Damn proud of ’em, too. Continue reading Comment of the day: “We are Yankee fans”

TYA Open Thread | Off Day | Monday April 11, 2011

The Yankees have the day off today. Hopefully the team uses the time to breathe some life back into the offense after Sunday’s Josh Beckett experience. The Yankees are back in action Tuesday, at home against the Orioles. A.J. Burnett toes the rubber for the bombers, while the division leading O’s counter with Chris Tillman. Use this as the open thread tonight. We can use Mark Teixeira as the conversation starter. After coming out of the gate strong, Tex is now batting .182/.325/.545, which isn’t as bad as it seems. That’s actually a 133 OPS+. After nine games last season he Continue reading TYA Open Thread | Off Day | Monday April 11, 2011

The Mystery Of Derek Jeter's New Old Stance

Over the last few days, we have heard reports that Derek Jeter has abandoned the stance that he developed this winter with Kevin Long. In the past, Jeter typically lifted his front (left) leg, did a toe tap, and then took a stride to home plate as he swung. Long wanted to quiet Jeter’s swing and felt the stride was making him late on pitches, so they eliminated the entire process and had him keep his left leg planted for the entire at-bat. However, Jeter started off slowly, admitted that he was focusing too much energy on the changes, and Continue reading The Mystery Of Derek Jeter's New Old Stance

Slade Heathcott Finally Showing His Vast Potential

Slade Heathcott has had an eventful 4 games to start the season with the Charleston Riverdogs. He’s hit .500/.474/1.167 with 2 singles, 4 doubles, a triple, and two home runs. This comes following his first professional season where he hit just 16 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs in 76 games. A lot of Yankee fans were rightfully skeptical that Heathcott’s .258/.359/.352 debut was good enough for a 1st round pick and prospect of his caliber. After everyone was insisting for over a year that he really did have power, Heathcott displayed it, for at least this week. Heathcott Continue reading Slade Heathcott Finally Showing His Vast Potential