About Katie Sharp

Former ESPN researcher; forever baseball and Yankees fan. Now living in northern Vermont and the color of the front door of our house is Yankee blue. Also write about college football and basketball and the NFL. Bleed Huskies blue (that's UConn, of course).

Nathan Eovaldi’s putaway problem

The scouting report on Nathan Eovaldi is pretty simple: a hard-throwing yet hittable right-hander, who has struggled to rack up strikeouts despite a dazzling fastball that he throws consistently in the mid-to-high 90s.

The stats back up the scouts, too. Eovaldi’s heater last season averaged 95.7 mph, fourth-highest among starting pitchers, yet his strikeout rate of 16.6 percent ranked 70th in that group of 88 qualified starters. He racked up just 142 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings last year, one more than Masahiro Tanaka managed in his injury-shorted season of 136 1/3 innings.

Eovaldi even admitted that his lack of strikeouts remains one of the biggest holes in his resume. “That’s one of the big issues I’ve had, not being able to finish the batters off,” Eovaldi told reporters this spring.

So why did Eovaldi struggle so much to get strike three and putaway hitters, despite a fastball that nearly reaches three digits? You know the drill, let’s dig into the numbers to see if we can make sense of the apparent disconnect between Eovaldi’s high heat and mediocre strikeout rates. Continue reading Nathan Eovaldi’s putaway problem

Imagining a Didi Gregorius that crushes lefties

Didi Gregorius‘ biggest challenge as a baseball player this season won’t be trying to follow in the footsteps of a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. That’s a storyline for the mass media to hype and write about it, and Gregorius knows himself that he can’t replace the Yankee legend.

“What Jeter did, nobody else is going to do that,” he told reporters during the first week of spring training. “If they compare me to Jeter, there’s nothing I can do.”

The most daunting task he’s going to face come April will be whether he can hit left-handed pitching and show Joe Girardi that he is capable – both offensively and defensively – of being the Yankees everyday shortstop. Continue reading Imagining a Didi Gregorius that crushes lefties

IIATMS Top Moment #17: Rauuuuuuuuuul!

[caption id="attachment_72662" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Source: Fangraphs.com Source: Fangraphs.com[/caption]

Raul Ibanez was never supposed to be the hero for the Yankees in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS against the Orioles.

But thanks to a gutsy move by Joe Girardi — pinch-hitting Ibanez for the slumping Alex Rodriguez with one out in the ninth inning and Yankees trailing by a run –- the 40-year-old etched his name among the pinstriped immortals with a couple swings of the bat.

The Yankees and Orioles had split the first two games of the best-of-five series, giving added significance to this critical Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The loser would be on the brink of elimination, the winner would be one step away from advancing to the ALCS.

The Orioles struck first with a solo homer by rookie second baseman Ryan Flaherty in the top of the third inning, but the Yankees quickly answered back in the bottom of the frame when Derek Jeter tripled home Russell Martin to tie the score at 1-1.

Manny Machado put the Orioles on top again with a home run leading off the fifth inning, giving Baltimore what appeared to be an insurmountable 2-1 lead as the Yankee bats went cold through the first eight innings.

When the Yankees entered the ninth inning still down a run, a rally seemed nearly impossible against an Orioles team that had gone 74-0 when leading after seven innings in the regular season. It also didn’t help that the three batters due up for the Yankees — Ichiro, A-Rod and Robinson Cano — were a combined 0 for 9 in the game.

After Ichiro lined out to left field for the first out, Girardi made one of boldest decisions in Yankees history. He kept A-Rod — a guy that had 647 home runs on the back of his baseball card — in the dugout, and instead sent Ibanez to face Jim Johnson with the game on the line. It was an unprecedented move, the first time that Rodriguez had been pinch hit for in a postseason game.

With the stadium buzzing following this most unpredictable move, Ibanez stepped up to the plate and took Johnson deep on the second pitch of the at-bat, tying the game at 2-2 and sending the Yankee Stadium crowd into an absolute frenzy.

Ibanez etched his name in the franchise record books with that sweet swing, becoming the first Yankee ever to hit a game-tying pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning or later of a postseason game.

But his record-breaking heroics wouldn’t end there.

Three innings later, Ibanez drilled a homer to deep right off Brian Matusz on the first pitch he saw, giving the Yankees one of the most improbable comeback wins in their long and storied history.

Not only did the 40-year-old likely save the Yankees season with his two dramatic longballs, he also made a bit of major-league history on that special October night in the Bronx.

Ibanez was the first player ever to homer in the ninth inning and extra innings of the same postseason game, and also became the oldest player to hit a walk-off postseason homer.

Although Ibanez played just that lone season in New York, he remains a true legend in the hearts of Yankee fans everywhere, and has cemented himself as one of the more unlikely postseason heroes in franchise history. Continue reading IIATMS Top Moment #17: Rauuuuuuuuuul!

Why Garrett Jones could become your favorite Yankee

[caption id="attachment_72515" align="aligncenter" width="515"]That short right porch looks really enticing. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports) That short right porch looks really enticing.(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)[/caption]

One of the more under-the-radar moves by the Yankees this winter was the acquisition of Garrett Jones, who came over in the Shane Greene/Nathan Eovaldi trade. Jones is likely to be used as a platoon bat (81 percent of his career plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching), but he still could end up being one of the more valuable Yankees even in his backup role.

It’s no secret that the Yankees have been starved for power over the last two seasons. Since 2013, they rank 11th in the AL in homers and second-to-last in slugging percentage; only the Royals have hit fewer extra-base hits.

Garrett Jones has a chance to really help the Yankees reverse that trend in 2015. Continue reading Why Garrett Jones could become your favorite Yankee

The numbers behind Adam Warren’s transformation

To put it mildly, Adam Warren‘s first outing in a Yankee uniform did not go well. In June 2012, Warren was summoned from Triple-A to make an emergency start against the White Sox in the wake of injuries to both Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. The 2009 fourth-round pick couldn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing eight hits – including two home runs – and six runs in a 14-7 loss.

Nearly three years removed from that disastrous debut, Warren has established himself as one of the team’s most valuable middle relievers, and this spring has been given a chance to compete for a potential spot at the back of the rotation (and, at worst, will be the third-best arm in a deep bullpen). Continue reading The numbers behind Adam Warren’s transformation

Yankeemetrics: The Final Series

[caption id="attachment_70039" align="alignnone" width="970"]The final hit of The Captain's career. (Photo: Steven Senne/AP) The final hit of The Captain’s career. (Photo: Steven Senne/AP)[/caption]
A rare meaningless Red Sox-Yankees game
Following Thursday’s dramatic Yankee Stadium finale, the Yankees rested most of their regulars on Friday night at Fenway Park in the opener of the final series of 2014, but still managed to beat the Red Sox, 3-2.

This was the first time since October 2-4, 1992 that the Yankees and Red Sox played a series with both teams eliminated from playoff contention; that date was also the last time both teams entered a head-to-head series at least 13 games out of first place in the division.

The Yankees started five rookies and all five got at least three at-bats. Since rookie rules were established in 1958, the only other time the Yankees had five rookies get at least three at-bats in a game vs Red Sox was on Sept. 10, 1966, a 5-1 Yankees win at Fenway Park.

Chris Capuano finished his season with a strong outing, allowing just one unearned run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He is the first left-handed Yankee starter to get win at Fenway without allowing an earned run and no more than four baserunners since Tommy John on May 20, 1979.

Eight is enough
The Yankees 10-4 loss on Saturday guaranteed that they would finish with fewer wins than the 2013 team. This is the fourth straight season they’ve finished with a lower win total than the previous year. The last time that happened was during a six-year period from 1985-90.

Eight of the 10 runs scored by the Red Sox came in the second inning. It is the first time the Yankees allowed at least eight runs in an inning vs the Red Sox since May 31, 1998, and the first time they did that at Fenway Park since Sept. 26, 1989.

Masahiro Tanaka was making his second start since coming off the DL and to say it didn’t go well would be understatement. He became the first Yankee to give up at least seven runs and seven hits in fewer than two innings against the Red Sox since Spud Chandler on May 11, 1941.

The Red Sox went 10-for-19 with runners in scoring position, just the third time the Yankees have given up at least 10 hits with RISP vs the Red Sox over the last 40 seasons. It also happened twice in 2005, on May 28 at Yankee Stadium and July 15 at Fenway.

The End
It is very fitting that Derek Jeter, one of the winningest players in major-league history, ended his career with a victory.

Jeter etched his name in the record books for the millionth time even before he took his first at-bat. This was Jeter’s 153rd game at Fenway Park (including postseason), passing Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig for the most games ever played there by a Yankees player.

He went 1-for-2, singling in his second at-bat for his 3,465th career hit and then was removed for a pinch-runner. That hit moved his average from .30945 to .30951, which rounds to .310.

He ended his career with a triple-slashline of .310/.377/.440, joining a group of four other Hall-of-Famers to reach each of those numbers in at least 10,000 career at-bats: Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker and Honus Wagner.

Jeter finished the season with 149 hits, matching George Brett for the most hits by anybody who played in his final season at age 40 or older since 1900. His 18 seasons with at least 149 hits are also tied for the most in MLB history with Pete Rose, Speaker, and Cobb.

Michael Pineda stole a little bit of the spotlight from Jeter with another gem, tossing 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts and no walks. He is the first Yankee to strike out at least 10 batters without a walk at Fenway Park since Mike Mussina‘s epic 13-strikeout shutout on September 2, 2001.

Pineda finished 2014 with a 1.89 ERA, the lowest ERA by a Yankee with at least 10 starts in a season since Ron Guidry (1.74) in 1978. Continue reading Yankeemetrics: The Final Series

Yankeemetrics: Captain Clutch edition

[caption id="attachment_70003" align="alignnone" width="620"]Captain Clutch does it again. (Photo: John Munson/NJ.com) Captain Clutch does it again. (Photo: John Munson/NJ.com)[/caption]
We’re leading this one off with The Captain, Derek Jeter

Captain Clutch’s last stand
You could not have scripted a better sendoff for The Captain in his final game at Yankee Stadium. His life really is a Hollywood movie, no joke.

Derek Jeter played his first and only game at Yankee Stadium with the Yankees eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday night, and he made sure that it would be a historic one.

Jeter came to bat in the ninth inning with the score tied and Antoan Richardson on second base, and lined a single to right field that scored Richardson for the game-winning run. It was his seventh career walk-off hit and first since 2007. Since his rookie season in 1995, no other Yankee has more walk-off hits than Jeter.

Four of those seven walk-off hits came in the ninth inning with the score tied. In the last 75 years, the only Yankees with more such hits than Jeter’s four are Mickey Mantle (6) and Graig Nettles (6).

It was also his third walk-off hit in September, matching Don Mattingly, Yogi Berra and Elston Howard for the most September walk-off hits by a Yankee in the last 75 seasons.

and now for the rest of the series

(Almost) Perfect Pineda
The Yankees opened the final series at Yankee Stadium of Derek Jeter’s career with a 5-0 win against the Orioles on Monday night. Michael Pineda pitched a gem, allowing just two baserunners (one hit, one walk) in 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He became the first Yankee with at least eight strikeouts and two or fewer baserunners allowed at Yankee Stadium since David Cone‘s perfect game in 1999.

The Yankees held the Orioles to one hit in a game for the first time since April 26, 1958 at Baltimore, and the first time in a game at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 2, 1942.

Jose Pirela had a historic debut, going 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI. He etched his name in the record books even before taking a swing as the franchise-record 57th player used by the Yankees this season.

With a triple and a single in the third and fifth inning, he became the first Yankee to get a hit in each of his first two at-bats in his MLB debut since Mike Pagliarulo in 1984. He is also the first Yankee to triple in his first career MLB game since Steve Balboni in 1981.

And then there was one
Brandon McCarthy picked the wrong time to have his worst start in pinstripes. McCarthy allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday in the Yankees 5-4 loss, which left them with a tragic number of one with less than a week remaining in the season.

The Yankees were lucky to lose this game by only a run, as the Orioles piled up 17 hits but scored just five times. It was the first time they allowed that many hits and gave up that few runs in a nine-inning game since Sept. 20, 1925 against the St. Louis Browns.

Brian McCann‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning was his 23rd of the season and 19th at home. He is the first Yankee catcher with at least 19 homers at Yankee Stadium in a season since Yogi Berra also had 19 in 1956.

That’s all folks
The Yankees were officially eliminated from the postseason race with another loss to the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon. This is the first time the Yankees will miss the playoffs in consecutive season since doing so 12 years in a row from 1982-93.

The O’s battered the Yankees pitching once again, knocking out 15 hits and scoring runs. It is the first time the Yankees have allowed at least 15 hits in back-to-back games vs the Orioles since 1962 and the first time doing so at home since 1932.
Continue reading Yankeemetrics: Captain Clutch edition

Yankeemetrics: Jeter farewell edition

[caption id="attachment_69931" align="alignnone" width="604"]Derek Jeter's career is unmatched in baseball history.Derek Jeter’s career is unmatched in baseball history.[/caption]
As Derek Jeter‘s incredible career comes to an end, let’s celebrate the amazing accomplishments of the soon-to-be Hall of Famer with a list of my 10 favorite stats from Jeter’s 20 seasons with the New York Yankees. Special thanks to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index and the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia for many of these notes.

1. Jeter is the only player in major-league baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 350 stolen bases, 250 homers and 1,300 RBI. Nada, no one else has done it.

2. Jeter and Hank Aaron are the only two players in MLB history with 16-or-more seasons of at least 150 hits, 20 doubles and 10 homers.

3. Arguably Jeter’s most iconic hit was his 3,000th, a home run off David Price on July 9, 2011. The only other player to reach the 3,000-hit milestone with a homer was Wade Boggs on August 7, 1999.

4. He is one of two players all-time with at least 3,460 hits for one franchise and none with any other team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other is Stan Musial, who had all 3,630 of his hits with the St. Louis Cardinals.

5. Jeter never won the MVP but did finish second in 2006. His numbers in that season – 214 hits, 97 RBI, 14 HR, 34 SB – were historic. Since RBI became official in 1920, only two other players have reached each of those totals in a season: George Sisler (1920) and Kiki Cuyler (1925).

6. In 158 postseason games (roughly one season) Jeter has 200 hits, 18 stolen bases, 32 doubles, five triples and 20 homers. That’s a pretty good regular season. In fact, only one Yankee has reached those totals in a single season – Mr. Jeter in 1999.

7. Jeter and Frank Robinson are the only players to win the Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP and All-Star Game MVP awards in a career. Jeter is the only player to win the World Series and All-Star Game MVPs in the same season (2000).

8. Jeter, who was taken with the sixth pick in the 1992 Draft, has been worth roughly 72 Wins Above Replacement in his career. The five players taken ahead of him (Phil Nevin, Paul Shuey, B.J. Wallace, Jeffrety Hammonds, Chad Mottola) have been worth a combined 30.5 WAR in their careers.

9. Jeter has played for 13 teams that finished in first place. That is the most first-place teams played for in major-league history (with a minimum of 400 plate appearances in each season).

10. Jeter has played in 2,742 career games, and only one has been when the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs – September 26, 2008 at Boston. He has never played a “meaningless” game at Yankee Stadium in his career (so far). Continue reading Yankeemetrics: Jeter farewell edition

Yankeemetrics: Sept. 18-21 (Blue Jays)

[caption id="attachment_69901" align="alignnone" width="675"]Derek Jeter is on fire in his last homestand. (Photo: NY Times) Derek Jeter is on fire in his last homestand. (Photo: NY Times)[/caption]
Chasing the hero
The Yankees started Derek Jeter‘s final homestand with a dramatic walk-off win against the Blue Jays on Thursday night.

In the bottom of the ninth inning with the scored knotted at 2-2, Chase Headley hit a groundball to Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, who let it go through his legs, allowing Antoan Richardson to score the winning run from third base.

If you remember, the Yankees also lost a game via a walk-off error in Toronto on June 24. Hmmm… This is the first time in at least the last 75 years that the Yankees lost via walk-off error and won via walk-off error against the same team in a season.

Shane Greene held the Blue Jays without a run into the seventh inning, the second time he’s had a scoreless start at home this year. He is the first Yankee rookie with at least two scoreless starts at Yankee Stadium in a season since Orlando Hernandez in 1998.

Jeter did not disappointment the home crowd, going 2-for-4, including his first home run in the Bronx this season. That snapped a personal 75-game homerless streak at Yankee Stadium, the longest such streak of his career.

I’ve definitely written this story before… there are few things you can predict in baseball, but one of them is a Yankee win when Mark Buehrle is the opposing starter on the mound.

Buehrle fell to 1-14 in 21 career starts vs the Yankees following Friday night’s 5-3 Yankee win over the Blue Jays. That is the worst record among the 212 pitchers that have at least 20 starts vs the Yankees in last 100 years.

He has now lost 12 straight decisions vs the Yankees, the longest losing streak by a left-handed pitcher vs Yankees in the last 100 years and tied with Dutch Leonard (1940-42) for the fourth-longest by any pitcher. The only pitchers with a longer streak are Red Ruffing (13, 1926-47), Dennis Martinez (13, 1984-98) and Slim Harriss (14, 1920-24).

Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings and improved to 5-0 with a 2.43 ERA in five career home starts against the Blue Jays since joining the Yankees. He joins Roger Clemens (2000-02) as the only pitchers in franchise history to win five straight starts in the Bronx vs Toronto.

Jeter milestone alert
The Yankees three-game win streak ended on Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays. They dropped to 79-75 on the season, the second straight year they’ve reached 75 losses (had 77 last year). It is the first time the Yankees have lost 75 or more games in back-to-back seasons since a five-year stretch from 1988-92.

Jeter scored a run in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1. It was his 1,920th career run, passing Alex Rodriguez for ninth place on the all-time list.

The Yankees took the four-game series against the Blue Jays with a 5-2 win in the finale on Sunday afternoon.

Masahiro Tanaka had a solid outing in his first start since July 8, allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings. He improved to 13-4 with a 2.47 ERA, and is on pace to be the first Yankee rookie with a sub-2.50 ERA and 13 wins since Stan Bahnsen in 1968 (17-12, 2.05 ERA).

Brian McCann led the offense with two homers and three RBI, and now has hit 18 of his 22 home runs at Yankee Stadium (82%). That would be the highest percentage of homers hit at home by a Yankee (min. 20 homers) in a single season since Don Mattingly hit 19 of 23 (83%) at home in 1989.

Jeter continued to swing a hot bat on his final homestand, recording his fourth straight game with at least two hits. He is the first player in franchise history with four consecutive multi- hit games at the age of 40 or older. Continue reading Yankeemetrics: Sept. 18-21 (Blue Jays)