Panic! in the Boogie Down: The Current State of the Yankees

mark-teixeiraOn May 16th, the 2009 NY Yankees had a record of 19-17. The 2011 NY Yankees on May 16th are 20-18. The point? Well, that it’s a long season. The 2009 Yankees were actually 15-17 at one point and had recently been swept by the Red Sox. Those were some dire times, were they not?

This was one of those weekends where nothing seemed to go right for NY. They got some decent performances from individual players, but their hits seemed to come at the wrong time, they threw bad pitches in the worst spots, had costly defensive mistakes, and had some questionable calls go against them. Such is baseball. With the exception of poor umpiring (at least, to me), those are part of what makes baseball fun and exciting.

The point of all this is that in baseball the lows are not usually as low as they may seem. The Yankees actually have a lot of players who are performing well overall. Let’s look quickly at the OPS+ and ERA+ of the regulars (remember, 100 is league average):

OPS+:

That’s still a pretty decent lineup, with a lot of good hitters at critical positions. The lowest OPS+ comes from the DH, which is certainly the easiest position to improve. It’s also relatively easy to improve RF, though the Yankees have to be thinking that Swisher will bounce back.

Joe Girardi made an attempt to have his lineup configured based on performance and moved Posada to 9th. We all know how that worked out. Jeter clearly needs to be moved to the bottom of the lineup as well, but that will probably require even more tact on the part of the Yankees.

ERA+:

What more could the Yankees possibly ask for from Garcia, Burnett, and Colon (well, actually they could ask a lot from Burnett considering what they’re paying him, but considering expectations…)? If they can even remotely keep up what they’ve been doing, the Yankee rotation will be in good shape. Chances are though that at least 1 of those starters will struggle (if not more) but that at the same time, Joba and Soriano can’t possibly be worse. The thing about using ERA+ is it evaluates only how effective a pitcher has been; it has no real predictive ability. For example, if you look at Joba’s K-rates and HR/FB rates, they suggest that Joba’s effectiveness will improve (essentially the odds of so many of his flyballs being home runs aren’t good).

So what do the Yankees ultimately have? Great starts from their question marks (Colon, Garcia, Burnett, Granderson, Martin, etc) and poor or mediocre starts from those they expected to produce (Hughes, Soriano, Joba, and even guys like A-Rod and CC to a lesser extent). Really though we don’t even know who this team is yet. It’s frustrating losing to the Red Sox in May, but the reality is these first 38 games have only told us a small portion of the story that is the 2011 Yankees and they are still in good enough position to make their expected run at the playoffs.

So time to panic? Not quite yet.

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4 Responses to Panic! in the Boogie Down: The Current State of the Yankees

  1. Mike S. says:

    The problem is, the offense doesn't string together hits. The OPS+ of 114 (#1 OPS in AL) is coming from two sources: #1 in HR and #1 in walks. But the BA is .249, 8th in the AL. Yes, they lead the AL in runs scored, but a lot is all or nothing reliance on the HR. Let's remember, that in the superb season of 1998 (a season of McGwire, Sosa, and even Greg Vaughn's 50) that the Yanks' top HR hitter that year was Tino with 28. The Top BA by a regular right now is just .281 (Granderson).__The ERA+ is a good 107. But this is ERA. It doesn't take into account unearned runs, and the Yanks have given up 26 of those in 38 games. They lost 7-5 last night, and two of Boston's runs were unearned. They lost 5-4 on Friday night. One of Boston's runs? Unearned. On May 5th, lost 6-3 to Detroit. The margin of victory, three runs, were unearned. __(cont.)

    • Mike S. says:

      Swisher and Posada, obviously, are two killing the Yanks.__But going into last night, Martin was .154 over his last 16 games. A-Rod .188-2-13 over his last 23, Cano .175 over his last 11. Combine those three's recent failures with the season-long struggles of Swisher (just 2 HR in 38 games after 29 HR seasons in 2009 and 2010) and Posada, not to mention Jeter's .260 (just 5 XBH out of 39 hits) and you can see why they are stuggling lately. __They aren't piecing together hits but relying on the big bomb. Not too much hit & running. Giving away too many unearned runs. Giving away too many free bases (2 k/pb in a week; a game in which the opponent gets just 4 hits but 11 walks, a HBP and an error).

      This must change, and soon.

  2. David K. says:

    You've got to be kidding me that Teixeira is above average. This is where the stats take over common sense. Teixeira is the number 3 batter and he is killing more rallies than you can count. There is no worse #3 hitter in the A.L. right now, I'm sure. To make it even worse, he saves his worst games for Boston and Tampa. Right now, the most telliing stat is batting average. The whole team is a .240 hitting team. No wonder they're not able to string together hits. Another thing is they don't hit from the 5th inning on. Is it a sign of age? We'll know for sure in a month. At this rate, if they don't turn it around, they will be done in a month. I've been a fan since 1981, this is the worst I've ever seen since the bad days in the early '90s. And they had no talent back then, so this is even more frustrating.

    • Mike S. says:

      Agreed David. What I have above. The OPS is all on HR and walks. They aren't stringing together innings. Lost 6-5 tonight. A 3-run bomb by Granderson, 2-run single by Nunez. They could have tacked on in the 2nd, didn't and it killed them. After 2-run single by Nunez (and and error) Jeter up, two-on, two-out and fails. The failure to make it a big inning cost them.

      Teix started the year 0 for 19 vs. Boston.