Yankees individual clutch hitting

Yesterday, Katie Sharp had a terrific piece on the historic fail of the Yankees in the clutch hitting department. Like all great writing, the post made me think and it also confirmed (judging by the comments) what most of us have been seeing with our eyes all season. To call it bleak has been an understatement. The first question it raised was: Is this a total team breakdown or just certain segments of the lineup? So I decided to piggyback on Katie’s work and take a look.

Katie focused on three statistics: Runners in Scoring Position (RISP), Runners in Scoring Position with Two Outs (I’ll shorten that to RISP2) and Late and Close. She found the Yankees as a team to not only be way below league average in all three of these categories, but historically bad for Yankee teams since 1973 when this sort of data started to be compiled.

I took a look at the twelve players with more than fifty plate appearances that have only played for the Yankees this season.…

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Yankees historically bad clutch hitting

This is a familiar shot for the Yankees this season. (Photo: Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News)

This is a familiar scene for the Yankees this season. (Photo: Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News)

It’s a minor miracle that my television set has survived the entire season so far, given the numerous times I wanted to throw hard objects at the screen in frustration after watching yet another Yankee ground out to end an inning with a couple men on base.

Though is there is little evidence that “clutch” hitting is a repeatable skill, what has already happened in the past is real and cannot be undone. And what the Yankees have done in pressure situations so far this season is nearing historic, record-setting lows.

To measure the performance of the team’s bats in various situations, I used a stat found on baseball-reference.com called Split OPS+ (adjusted OPS relative to the league’s OPS in the split). A 100 is league average, and each point up or down is one percentage point above or below league average.

There are a couple advantages to using this statistic:

1) OPS is a better measurement to use than batting average, since a walk can be just as valuable as a hit in these situations and a homer is definitely more valuable than a single.…

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Can Greene be money again vs Orioles?

Shane Greene faces perhaps the biggest test of his young career tonight when he takes the mound against the division-leading Orioles.

Not only is winning this game crucial to the Yankees razor-thin playoff chances, but the O’s are the first team who will see him a second time as a starter (he has pitched against the Red Sox twice, though one game was a relief outing where he faced only five batters).

Greene has made six starts and has mixed results so far, with three excellent outings and three mediocre outings. One of those outstanding starts was a month ago in Baltimore, the same place he’ll be pitching tonight.

What can we learn from the differences in his pitching performances during his good starts versus his bad starts, and can he neutralize the strong Oriole bats again tonight?

Stay grounded
The biggest takeaway from looking at his good/bad splits is that he needs to keep the ball on the ground to be successful.…

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What to Watch For: Verlander vs Yankees

The Yankees will try to beat another former Cy Young winner tonight. (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Image

The Yankees will try to beat another former Cy Young winner tonight. (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Yankees will make history tonight even before they swing a bat, when Justin Verlander takes the mound in the bottom of the first inning.

According to the Elias Sports Bureua, this is the first time in major-league history a team has faced the last three Cy Young Award winners (Max Scherzer, David Price, Verlander) in three straight games.

There is one caveat: tonight’s starter may have the name “Verlander” on the back of his jersey, but he is a shell of the pitcher that won the award in 2011. With a 4.66 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, he is on pace to have his worst season since 2008 when he led the league in losses and finished with a 4.84 ERA.

Cy who?
Verlander’s fastball velocity has declined every season since 2011 and opponents have increasingly been hitting his heater harder and harder each year.…

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Can Jeter reach another milestone vs David Price?

Derek Jeter hits a home run off David Price for his 3,000th career hit on July 9, 2011. (Photo: MLB)

Derek Jeter hits a home run off David Price for his 3,000th career hit on July 9, 2011. (Photo: MLB)

How fitting is it that as Derek Jeter approaches yet another milestone – he is three hits away from tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time list – the pitcher on the mound tonight in the Bronx will be David Price?

Whether by ironic fate or mere coincidence, Jeter has had his share of memorable at-bats against the former Cy Young Award winner.

Most fans remember that Jeter’s epic 3,000th hit – a home run on July 9, 2011 – came at the expense of the lefty ace, but that is not the only time Price has been at the center of a Jeter highlight reel. Here are some of the other milestone hits by Jeter during their matchups:

•  Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the most career hits at the old Yankee Stadium on September 14, 2008 when he hit a solo homer in the fifth inning off the rookie Price (who was making his major-league debut).…

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Why Stephen Drew can help the Yankees

Stephen Drew is bringing his bat to the Bronx. (Photo: USA Today Sports)

Stephen Drew is bringing his bat to the Bronx. (Photo: USA Today Sports)

In one of the more surprising trade deadline deals in recent memory, the Yankees traded Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox in exchange for Stephen Drew. The Yankees later designated Brian Roberts for assignment, giving Drew the full-time job at second base.

On the surface, this is what the deal looks like: The Yankees picked up a player that is hitting .176/.255/.328 this season and who has never played an inning at second base in his professional career (majors or minors) to be their regular second baseman for the remainder of the season.

Huh? That doesn’t seem like a move that would help the Yankees chances of playing in October.

But those facts don’t tell the entire story of why Drew is an upgrade over Roberts and has a chance to help the Yankees down the stretch.

Heating up in July
Drew was signed by Boston at the beginning of June, so essentially he was in “spring training” for the first 4-6 weeks after joining the Red Sox, and it showed in his performance at the plate.…

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Carlos Coming Around Post-ASB

Beltran HR vs CIN

Courtesy of Getty Images

Before the All-Star break, Carlos Beltran looked every bit a 37-year-old outfielder on the downside of his career.  He hit .195/.256/.378 in June, went 4-22 in his first 6 July games, then fouled a ball off his own face in BP and missed a week of games leading up to the break.

In hindsight, that freak accident might have actually been the best thing for Beltran.  Between the 7-day concussion DL trip and the 4 days off for the ASB, Beltran got 11 days off.  That was 11 days to let his facial cuts heal, 11 days to rest his troublesome right elbow, and 11 days without the general wear and tear that comes with playing professional baseball every day, even as a full-time DH.  That’s a pretty solid chunk of time off for a late-30s veteran with the mileage on his body that Beltran has, and the early small sample size results at the plate since the break indicate that it might have been just what the doctor ordered.…

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Yankeemetrics: July 21-24 (Rangers)

Chase Headley celebrates his game-winning hit on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

Chase Headley celebrates his game-winning hit on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

Comedy of Errors
The Yankees lost in embarrassing fashion on Monday, committing five errors en route to a 4-2 loss against the worst team in baseball, the Texas Rangers.

It was the first time they had at least five errors in a nine-inning game since August 20, 1998 at Minnesota, and the first time at home since October 1, 1989 vs the Tigers.

Shane Greene was responsible for three of the miscues, the first Yankee pitcher with at least three errors in a game since Tommy John on July 27, 1988.

Somehow Yankee pitchers were not charged with any unearned runs despite the five errors. This is the only time in the last 100 years that the Yankees made at least five errors without allowing an unearned run in a nine-inning game.  It has happened twice in extra-inning games in that span: on August 9, 2002 vs the A’s and August 18, 1927 vs the White Sox.…

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What To Watch For: Darvish vs Yankees

The Yankees will try to make Yu Darvish look bad tonight. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees will try to make Yu Darvish look bad tonight. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees face the Rangers’ ace Yu Darvish tonight in the third game of this four-game series. Here are a few things to look for when watching and praying for some runs against one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Which Yu is it?
There is no doubt that Darvish is having an excellent season, with a 2.88 ERA over 18 starts and a league-leading strikeout rate of 11.4 per nine innings.

However, after starting the season strong with a 2.08 ERA and nine quality starts in his first 10 outings, he has been very inconsistent over his last eight turns.

His ERA is a shade under 4.00 since June 6 and he has given up at least four runs in five of his last eight games. He is coming off a 12-strikeout, one-run effort against the Blue Jays on Friday, but that followed a six-run, 10-hit disaster against the Astros in his final start prior to the break.…

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