The Yankees just completed a miserable 2-4 road trip on which the team averaged just three runs per game. This stretch of games isn’t representative of the true abilities of the Yankee offense, but it highlights the fact that the team just isn’t putting the same kind of hitters in the batter’s box that it used to. In 2009 the Yankees scored 915 runs, or 5.65 per game. Since then the offense has steadily lost its fizzle (comparatively, of course) leading to the 2012 team that has scored 615 runs over its first 127 games, or 4.84 runs per game. What’s changed?
Partially, the Yankees saw a legendary offense split up and haven’t been able to add players of the same caliber. The 2009 squad featured eight players with an OPS+ of 115 or greater. That’s difficult to accomplish and harder still to maintain. But another reason is the decline of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. When the Yankees added Teixeira to the team in December 2008 I was certain that he and Alex were going to combine for at least 70 home runs a season for years to come. Sadly, that’s never happened once, but they came close in 2009 when the two combined to hit 69 dingers.
2009 was also the one season the former Ranger teammates hit the way they were supposed to in the middle of the Yankee order. Both players had wOBA’s over .400 in 2009 (.405 for Alex and .402 for Tex) and wRC+’s of at least 140. After that, the wheels came off. Both players saw their wOBA’s fall into the .360’s in 2010 and neither has returned to 2009 form. Each has remained a productive hitter, to say the least, but in 2009 the Yankees had two of the best hitters in baseball batting in succession in their lineup. Those players have never been the same since.
Sadly, neither has the Yankee offense as a whole. While it is true that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have both emerged as the team’s two best hitters, the Yankees are suffering from addition by subtraction. Neither player has been as good in 2010 or beyond as A-Rod and Tex were in 2009. Over that stretch Cano has had a .383 wOBA and a 138 wRC+ while Granderson has had a .366 wOBA and a 127 wRC+. Those are great totals, but in a real way the Yankees effectively traded two .400+ wOBA hitters for a .380 wOBA hitter and a .365 wOBA hitter. That’s a large drop off.
Obviously the Yankees had continued to put up high powered offenses since 2009. Also, Tex and Alex were not the only reasons the Yankee offense was so good in 2009. But, they were a big part of it and, as good as Robbie and Curtis have been, the team has never been able to replace that level of production in one player, let alone two, in the seasons that have followed. It is one more reason why the Yankee offense has steadily declined over the past few seasons.