Checking in on the Yankees’ Defense

Remember when the Yankees were projected as the 3rd best defense in baseball before the season began? Those were the days.

Entering play on May 19th, the Yankees rank 7th-worst in the bigs in UZR. Fangraphs would categorize that as somewhere between “Below Average” and “Poor”.

uzr

UZR through 5/19/15 via Fangraphs

 

While it’s difficult to measure defense with stats, and UZR is far from the perfect defensive metric, you can look just about anywhere and find the Yankees at the bottom of the rankings. They’re 22nd in Fielding Percentage (.981), 6th in Errors (28), and 14th in Defensive Runs Saved (-14).

The additions of Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley were supposed to remedy some of the Yankees’ defensive woes, but it hasn’t quite worked out. Headley (8) and Gregorius (4) have combined to commit 12 errors, with Stephen Drew adding 4. While Gregorius is enjoying the highest UZR of his career (1.3), Headley (-2.9) is far from where he was last year (20.9 with SD & NYY). …

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About CC’s struggles in the batting order

sabathiaSo Brad was right on the money with regards to CC Sabathia‘s failings at the bottom of the lineup, as he mentioned earlier today. CC is absolutely getting OWNED by the bottom of the opposing lineups this year (SSS warnings and all that jazz). But what Brad didn’t really mention is that, for the most part, you can chalk a lot of it up to some really bad luck. Batters 7-9 are posting an unsustainably high BAPiP of 0.429 this year. Compare that to the 0.313 and 0.314 posted by batters 1-2, and 3-6, respectively.

Hell, just look at the SEVENTH hitters have done to CC: 0.800 BAPiP. That’s ridiculous and completely a SSS gremlin. It means that CC has turned the seven hitter into a 1.526 OPS behemoth. Any idea what player that would profile if that OPS held over the course of the year? How about no one EVER. The best OPS over a season was Barry Bonds‘ 2004 wrecking ball when he racked up 1.4217.…

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The Yankees’ Upgraded Fielding

Much was made during the off season on how the New York Yankees focused on defense in targeting acquisitions. And while none of us saw this good of a start to the season the team has brokered to this point, one question is how much that defensive upgrade applies to the current success. According to the major statistical sites, the answer is: Not very much.

Let’s get a few valid points out of the way. First, unlike batting and pitching statistics, fielding statistics to this point have had a larger margin for error. While we feel good about what the two former categories are telling us these days, fielding statistics have been perceived to be on less solid ground. Secondly–and perhaps because of the last statement–we are strongly cautioned against taking much stock in fielding statistics on a short sample size. We have been told in the past that such statistics should be viewed on the long term, perhaps over several years, to take seriously.…

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Quick Hit: The Terrific Top Two

Yesterday wasn’t a banner day for the Yankee offense, but in general it’s been much better this month after a slow start.  Power and patience have been the name of the game, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out the stellar job being done at the top of the batting order by the team’s 2 designated table setters.

In a perfect world, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner would have provided the top of the lineup with a potent combination of average, speed, and occasional power last year.  In 2015’s Jeter-less world, they’ve finally gotten the chance to do that and they’ve responded with exactly the type of performance we (and Joe) hoped for.  Ellsbury sits at .321/.406/.381 after yesterday’s 3-hit effort, with a BB rate of 10.4% and a K rate below 15.  Gardner is right there with him at .311/.400/.410 with a 9.6% BB rate and a minuscule 11.0% K rate.  Between the 2 of them they’ve scored 31 runs and stolen 14 bases, each ranking 1-2 on the team in those categories.  …

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About Last Night: The offense exploded again!

So last night was pretty fun.

I mean, sure, after the Yankees went up 6-0 in the first inning, it was fun. It wasn’t that enjoyable to watch Detroit immediately answer with four runs of their own right away, but seeing the Yankees continue to get on base and score throughout the game and to see Adam Warren hang in there after a rough first inning was pretty great.

You know what else is pretty great? Watching the Yankees hitters work counts and not rush things when they’re at the plate. It seemed like Alex Rodriguez was the only guy in the lineup who exhibited any patience at the plate to start the season and now, it feels like the whole lineup is much better at pitch selection and waiting for a good pitch to hammer.

Case in point:

Carlos Beltran had two hits last night! Both were on changeups – in the second inning, it was an 83 mph change up from David Price that he laced for a triple and in the fourth inning, he hit an 87 mph change up from Aaron Nesbitt for a single.…

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Quick Hit: The Surprisingly Stout Lineup

Yesterday Dom touched on the solid all-around start for the pitching staff through the first 2+ weeks of the season, and noted that the group as a whole was outperforming some of its less-than-stellar individual performances.  A comment was made that the offense needed to “step up” to match the pitching staff’s strong start, which I found a bit strange considering that the offense had been performing very well in multiple key areas.  Then last night’s all-out assault on David Price happened and I thought I’d take a look at just exactly how well the Yankee lineup had been stepping up after a pretty lame first week.

As with Dom’s post yesterday, all stats here are courtesy of FanGraphs and rankings are MLB-wide:

  • T-1st in Home Runs (21)
  • 2nd in ISO (.187)
  • T-3rd in Runs (83)
  • 4th in Walk Rate (10.5%)
  • T-7th in OBP (.332)
  • T-8th in SLG (.433)
  • 8th in wRC+ (109)
  • 8th in WAR (2.6)
  • T-9th in Doubles (27)

Remember that all of that is coming with a low batting average, LD rate, and BABIP, which are things I expect to normalize and increase as the season continues and sample sizes grow.  …

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What to look for: Nathan Eovaldi

Tonight Nathan Eovaldi will be making his third start this season. Eovaldi is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in eight career starts in April but he is 0-5 with a 6.23 ERA over his last six road starts which is the longest road losing streak of his career.

In his last outing this past Wednesday night, on the road in Baltimore, Eovaldi only lasted five innings. And while his nine strikeouts were a good sign, he surrendered eight hits, three walks and two runs. He also threw a season-high (and so far, team high) 101 pitches in those five innings which caused the bullpen to be called in early and they ultimately, and almost immediately, gave up the lead and the Yankees lost.

Let’s see how Eovaldi is doing so far.

16 hits – 14 singles, one double and one home run:

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

  • Against lefties, Eovaldi’s given up eight hits, has struck out eight and walked one.
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Early Yankee BABIP Problems

Can you judge a team’s offense after just eight games? Probably not. But you can look at trends to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead. According to most statistics I am looking at, the Yankees are a middle of the road offense. The one thing lagging behind everything else is the team’s batting average on balls in play or BABIP.

The Yankees are ninth out of thirty teams in runs scored. No doubt that fourteen-run explosion the other night helped that out quite a bit. The team is seventh in ISO, so the power numbers are decent. They are eleventh in wOBA. And they are fifteenth in on-base percentage.

Looking further at the numbers thus far, the team is ground ball / fly ball neutral. In other words, they are not leaning heavily in one batted ball type or the other. The team hasn’t hit a lot of line drives to this point and are 28th in that category.…

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About Last Night: The offense comes alive!

Well, we wanted (needed) the Yankees to snap out of their offensive slumber last night and by the time the first inning ended, they had seven runs on the board.

The offensive outburst, which lasted most of the game and resulted in 14 runs (they only scored 17 in the previous 5 games combined), helped raise the team’s slash line to .233/.318/.404/.721.

All of the starters had at least one hit, Brian McCann hit the 200th home run of his career – the fifth against the Red Sox since becoming a Yankee – and Chase Headley and Stephen Drew went yard back-to-back in that crazy first inning.

If we isolate some of last night’s numbers, this is what they look like:

  • The team slash line for the game was .444/.500/.722/1.222.
  • With men on: .500/.522/.722/1.244.
  • With no outs: .688/.667/.875 /1.542.
  • With one out: .273/.333/.909/1.242.
  • With two outs: .222/.364/.222/.586.
  • Okay, so that’s not good but their K rate with two outs was 0% and their walk rate was 18%.
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