Dissecting the boom/bust Yankee offense

The 21012 New York Yankee team has been very streaky. All teams are to some extent, but in the past two months this group has won 9 of 11 (7/4 to 7/18) and 7 of 8 (8/8 to 8/15). In that same time frame they have put together losing streaks of 7 of 10 twice (7/28 to 8/7) and again from 8/20 to today with last night’s loss. That Jeckyl-Hyde nature could either be very good or very bad come October, but one should not even assume they will even get there with a 2 game lead on September 1st. As we’ve seen in recent years with the Mets, Braves and Red Sox no lead is safe in September. Over all this group is 5th in Runs scored. Not bad, but certainly not the elite position the Yanks are accustomed to being in. Its also worth noting that 2 of the 4 teams ahead of them (Boston/LA Angels) would not even make the playoffs if the season ended today. Run prevention seems to trump Run production in the era of steroid testing.

Here’s a quick look at what’s been going on with some of the regulars that aren’t currently on the DL:

Robinson Cano-Overall, Robbie’s had a fine year (.304/.369/.543). But if he’s had one achilles heel this season, it’s been Lefties. He’s destroyed right handers (.354/.423/.682) while being anemic  facing lefties (.227/.282/.328) for 2012. 200+PAs both ways, so the sample is sufficient.

Curtis Granderson-Poster child of the Yankee boom/bust offense, his season has followed suit. He was on fire the first 6 weeks of the season, posting a line of .273/.367/.595 on May 10.  Since then he has dropped steadily, falling to the .808 OPS he had entering last night’s game.

Russell Martin-He has never recovered his all star form from 2006-08, and this year is no exception. He’s batting .198/.306/.366 overall and has really struggled facing finesse pitchers (.552 OPS). He’s suffered a big platoon split (.821 vs LH .608 vs RH) this year, something we haven’t seen in prior campaigns. He’s been dangerous against lefties (.821 OPS) particularly power pitchers (.775) and those who generate fly balls (.826). Could just be a down year, or the accumulation of injuries as a Catcher could be turning him into a bench player.

Andruw Jones-Always a dead red hitter, this season has been no exception. Despite his paltry .207/.291/. season line, believe it or not he can be very good if you pick your spots with him. Looking at the types of pitchers he’s faced he’s posted a .265/.357/.469 (.827 OPS) against power pitchers, while posting .188/.270/.406 (.676 OPS) against finesse pitchers. You shouldn’t play Jones against any pitcher with quality secondary offerings, that’s why he’s a bench player at this point of his career. Classic case of injuries forcing you to play someone more than you should.

Raul Ibanez-Like Jones, he’s a part time player for a reason. Despite a massive platoon split (.780 OPS vs RH .495 vs LH) has still managed to log 50 PAs facing lefties, almost all of them coming against relievers. He won’t see the light of day facing a LOOGY in October.

To summarize, you can get all these guys out mixing and matching in the late innings. Throw a lefty at Cano/Ibanez, junkballers against Jones/Martin and just execute your pitches against Granderson. There’s no such thing as a perfect player, but this group as currently constructed does make things easy for opposing managers.

3 thoughts on “Dissecting the boom/bust Yankee offense

  1. Seems to me that Cashman’s bulging prospect phobia is really hurting franchise.
    He recently called all prospects “suspects” — a very strange comment for GM of a team that won five titles with a homegrown core.
    At this moment, there are at least two homegrowns who could help this boom/bust lineup. They are both high average contact hitters. One is David Adams, who has been well over .300 all season, but much better still against lefties. The other is Ronnie Mustelier, who has hit over .300 with 15 HRs between AA and AAA. Unlike Adams, he does not have a strong split bias. He would certainly be as good or better than the Jones/Ibanez duo in many situations.
    Yanks desperately need youth, energy and contact hitting– holes that can be filled right now by these two. I think Nunez would also be a help, though I’d like to know more about his defense at short in AAA of late.

  2. Elaborating a bit on Cashmsn’s counter-productive and currently downright crippling fear of prospects. It seems to be rooted in the misfortunes of IPK/Joba/Phil when the were all installed in the rotation as virtual rookies.
    Well, it’s first worth noting that two and arguably all three have since proved to be valuable MLB assets (the possible exception the rehabbing Joba).
    But the bigger point is this. Hitters are far more likely to have near-instant MLB success. Pitching develops notoriously slowly, with its familiar ups and downs, in most cases. Putting three rookies into the rotation is just asking for trouble (though even that has succeeded on a few occasions).
    Finding spots for a couple of young contact hitters who address current lineup weaknesses is a far safer — and I believe necessary — initiative.
    Cashman has avoided prospects like they were lepers all season, opting for the likes of Eppley and Nix and McGeehee on every occasion. Some of his retreads worked out but the tires are getting balder and balder. Time for some new rubber. And we have it in the system, Brian.

  3. I suppose you can dissect mini hot and cold streaks any way you want. So I give myself permission to point out to groups of 44 and 46 games in which these 2012 Yankees have played .500 ball starting the season at pretty much full strength…going 22-22…..and now at half strength going 23-23 since the break. So which is more revealing? Mini streaks or larger sample sizes?