Gardner and Ellsbury Living Up To New Contracts

When the Yankees signed Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury to contracts this winter it represented a pretty big change for them and it has paid huge dividends so far.

The Yankees invested big money in two outfielders who are known for their speed, defense and contact hitting. Brian Cashman has never been one to hide his love for “big hairy monsters” who hit home runs, so the fact that he signed two non-power outfielders in one offseason was pretty surprising.

Also, when the Yankees gave Gardner a new four-year, $52 million contract it represented another change in philosophy. The Yankees never gave out contract extensions to players before their current deals expired, and it might have cost them Robinson Cano. Most other MLB teams have been locking up their young players early for years now, while the Yankees were lagging behind, so it was big of them to see what they were doing wrong and adjust.

The Gardner signing was an easy call, and the Yankees got a great value.… Click here to read the rest

Centerfielder Factor

Exactly one year ago today, the Boston Red Sox sat atop the mighty AL East with the best record in the American League. New York was not doing too shabby in their own right, sitting just 2.5 games back from the Red Sox, and 19 games over .500. One of the main catalysts for both teams was the tremendous play of their centerfielders. This of course led to a major debate over not only which team was better, but which team had the better centerfielder. In a way, the discussions were a bit reminiscent of the 1950s in New York where there were three great centerfielders. I am of course referring to the days of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider. Now I am well-aware that the Yankees and Red Sox do not reside in the same city, but the proximity is close and the rivalry has reached a boiling point over the past decade.

Curtis Granderson was batting .277 to go with 21 home runs and 56 RBIs on this date last season.… Click here to read the rest

TYA Mailbag: What is up with Jacoby Ellsbury’s power?

I really didn't need another Boston power hitter in my life.

TYA reader Shai recently sent us this question via Twitter: “Can I make a request for an article on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s power and if it’s sustainable?” This question couldn’t come at a better time. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three run homer in the first game of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader the Red Sox played against the Rays. That hit gave Ellsbury 21 homers on the season. In his entire professional career entering this year he’d hit only 20 homers. So, yeah, Jacoby’s hitting with a bit more pop this season. Shai can count me among those who are curious to know if the power is sustainable or not.

It’s certainly unprecedented. The table below shows what Ellsbury has done since he entered the majors. (To be consistent with the advanced stats, all of these data exclude what Jacoby did in both of Tuesday’s games.)

Apart from his cup of coffee campaign in 2007, Ellsbury has never shown the kind of power he’s had with the bat this year.… Click here to read the rest

Statistics: We Do Not Have All Of The Information

Matt wrote an excellent post this morning about bringing statistics into the mainstream, and I think Chris began to follow through on that with his fascinating post on breaking down UZR. Both posts illustrated that fans now have more information at their hands than ever before, and that we can educate ourselves about the very essentials of the game. However, an interview that I heard this morning on WEEI, with Theo Epstein, reminded me that as fans, we still do not have all of the information:

I think that he (Ellsbury) is an above-average center fielder now, who is going to be a great center fielder. I know there is a certain number we don’t use that is accessible to people online that had him as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball last year. I don’t think it’s worth anything. I don’t think that number is legitimate. We do our own stuff and it showed that he is above average.

Click here to read the rest

The Steal of Home And ESPN

Dan Turkenkopf posted an article on stealing home at The Hardball Times today, and his findings were too juicy to ignore. He found 25 instances of an attempted straight steal of home since 2000, with 15 successful and 10 failing. There was one particular team that was victimized four times, and one pitcher that was embarrassed three times. That team, of course, is the Yankees, and the pitcher is Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has been on the losing end of a straight steal of home three times: once by Jacoby Ellsbury, once by lightning quick Aaron Hill, and once by world class sprinter Mike Sweeney. The author concludes:

And if you really want to be successful stealing home, be sure to go when Andy Pettitte is on the mound.

Why do I bring this up? Because Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home is now part of every single ESPN MLB broadcast, as if it were the greatest play of all time. I am certain that it will at least be nominated for an ESPY, and Red Sox fans here in Boston have been referring to it as the gutsiest move of all time.… Click here to read the rest