William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Russell Martin’s ready for late peak?

The futility of Martin’s batting season is simply amazing. Before August, his best month was May. His triple slash line by month:

  • April: .167/.338/.296
  • May: .202/.329/.362
  • June: .194/.270/.433
  • July: .183/.290/.400

Though the power numbers with four homers in both June and July were better, that was a whole lot of lousy hitting. And you want to talk about amazing? Check out his progression of BABIP numbers: .189, .222, 196 and .156!  You can’t say that such low BABIP numbers are a product of bad luck. There is a lot of weak contact in there.

The Yankees did not expect Russell Martin to hit like he did in his early Dodgers days. But they would have taken .240 to .250 with occasional home run pop. The home run pop has been the only part of that equation this season with twelve after hitting eighteen last season. On top of his struggles with the batted ball, his current strikeout rate of 19.2 percent is the highest of his career and five points higher than his career average.…

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Mark Teixeira no longer cringe-worthy

His season was especially alarming because last year seemed like such a fall off for him. His batting average of .248 is not the most important of statistics, but it symbolized that Teixeira was tumbling a bit as his Yankee career continued. His .361 wOBA last season was his worst since his rookie season way back in 2003. Where Teixeira was sitting on such a late date as July 1, 2012 brought the obvious questions if Teixeira, at the age of 32, was seriously, and irrevocably regressing.

On the surface of things, his current wOBA of .358 is even lower than last season. But considering where he was on July 1, the number is a lot more encouraging in retrospect. But as they say, what a difference a month makes. July was the bomb for Teixeira. His OPS for the month was 1.017 as he batted .298 for the month and slugged .631. Over the course of the month, he became the team’s most reliable offensive force.…

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Maxwell > Jones > Wise > Ichiro

Ichiro has basically replaced Dewayne Wise on the Yankees’ roster. Wise had 63 plate appearances before he was DFA’d, just two more than Ichiro. Wise’s OPS was .778 compared to Ichiro’s .635. And Wise had more pop and was more of a deep threat AND he was a better outfielder at this stage in their relative careers. The difference is that the Yankees did not consider Dewayne Wise an every day player and certainly, playing Wise against lefties was not a good idea. But then again, neither is playing Ichiro against lefties.  There is this assumption that Ichiro Suzuki is a hitter feared by pitchers. That hardly seems true anymore. Wise was better than this current Ichiro.

And before Wise was another outfielder that got away. His name is Justin Maxwell who had a fantastic Spring Training for the Yankees. The guy just looked like a ballplayer. And though Spring Training means very little, Maxwell looked like the best player on the Yankees.…

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Yankees lose to Tigers again, 6-5

Both pitchers started the game with three effective and scoreless innings. The Yankees got two hits in the top of the second off of Tigers’ starter, Rick Porcello, but an Eric Chavez double-play ball kept those hits from doing any damage. Curtis Granderson struck out in the first and the third. Phil Hughes looked on fire the first three innings. His fastball gave him two strikeouts to lead off the bottom of the first and then threw a wicked inside fastball to Miguel Cabrera and the great Tiger hitter fouled out. Great inning. In the second, Hughes worked easily around a single. Great inning. Hughes worked again around a single in the third and looked in complete control. Then the Yankees scored. Dang.

Derek Jeter led off the top of the fourth with a bounding single through the left side of the infield. But Robinson Cano grounded into a double play. For the second time in the game, Mark Teixeira beat the shift with a screamer to right for a single.…

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Granderson’s worrisome second half

In the second half, Curtis Granderson’s triple slash line is: .225/.289/.461. That covers the last 22 games and gives him a second half OPS of .750. In the five games in August, his slash line is: .200/.304/.350. Based on those two sets of numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that he is scuffling at the plate. Lately, Joe Girardi has installed Granderson into the lead-off spot. Why exactly? Granderson has not gotten a hit to lead off a game yet.

All of this is sort of important as it seems that Curtis Granderson is one of the keys to whether the Yankees win or not. Call it a coincidence, but in games that the Yankees win, Granderson has a .965 OPS. In games the Yankees lose, Granderson has an OPS of .651. In those losses, Granderson has struck out in 36.5 percent of his plate appearances. In high leverage situations, he has struck out 25 times in 80 plate appearances or 31.5 percent.…

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Freddy Garcia does something remarkable

There is a lot of scientific stuff in the article about spin and the smooth part of the ball and the seams. The bottom line, it seems, is that Garcia at times throws a pitch that moves in the opposite way normal versions of the split-fingered pitch should move. According to the article, one physicist spent hours looking at the pitch frame by frame from video and even wrote a scientific paper about his findings. That link can be found within the article noted.

The article and the findings by the physicists does perhaps explain how Freddy Garcia can strikeout 6.2 major league batters per nine innings despite having absolutely nothing on the ball and a fastball that, on a really good day, can reach 87 miles per hour. Getting swings and misses is more than just speed. It is also throwing a pitch the batter does not expect with movement the batter cannot detect. The article quotes Chris Stewart and Russell Martin and they confirm that Garcia does throw this remarkable pitch with somewhat regularity.…

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August 3, 1998

The game featured a pitching match-up of Orlando Hernandez and Mike Oquist. Hernandez was in the middle of a run that would make him the toast of New York. The Yankees had signed the recent 32 year old Cuban defector back in March and Hernandez entered this contest with a record of 5-3. He would only lose one more game the rest of the season. Mike Oquist was heading in a different direction. Oquest was a 32nd round draft choice of the Orioles way back in 1989 and beat the odds to pitch in the majors beginning with the Orioles in 1993 and later with Oakland starting in 1997. Oquist entered this contest having coughed up six runs a piece to the Red Sox and Blue Jays in his previous two starts.

The temperature was a warm 87 degrees with a light breeze.  Tim Tschida was the umpire behind the plate and a little more than 18,000 fans showed up to watch the contest.…

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