Who ever thought, going into the year, that this would be the current narrative: the Yankees once again got a quality outing from their starter but failed to win because their offense could not put together enough runs.
AJ Burnett continued his string of solid outings, throwing 7 innings and allowing only 1 ER. In fact, he only allowed 1 hit, but that’s a little deceiving because he allowed 6 other baserunners (5 BBs and 1 HBP). I don’t love using WPA for starters, but his .395 definitely shows that AJ pitched well enough for the Yankees to win this one. His counterpart, Vin Mazzaro only lasted 4 innings and allowed 10 baserunners. The Yankees stranded most of those though, as Mazzaro only allowed 2 runs. As was the story all night, the big hit just never came.
Other notable players and their WPAs:
Curtis Granderson: .349
Another big game from the Granderson. He homered early and then hit the game-tying single in the 10th.
Aaron Crow: .326
In some ways, the unsung hero of the game for the Royals. Crow didn’t actually pitch all that well – he allowed 6 baserunners (3 hits, 3 BBs) in 3 innings, but he managed to not allow a run despite being in some high-leverage situations.
Jorge Posada: .038
Poor Jorge. The man had a great game – his .638 wOBA was just barely behind Granderson’s. The problem is, Posada only had 1 critical at-bat and he struck out. He reached base in every other plate appearance. I really wished Swisher would have taken ball 4 in the bottom of the 11th so Posada would have had one more chance.
Brett Gardner: -.11o
Gardner’s game tonight was a perfect example of the benefits and flaws in bunting. In the 4th, Gardner laid down a surprise bunt down the 3rd base line. The Royals had no chance of throwing him out. In the 10th, Soria was wild and quickly fell behind Gardner 2-0 after walking Martin on 4 pitches . Gardner kept squaring to bunt, but I assumed there was no way he would actually offer at it, seeing as he was potentially about to get walked. Yet he fouled one off. 2-1. Then Gardner took ball 3. With the count 3-1, a runner on first, and a wild pitcher on the mound, Gardner absolutely has to be taking. Yet he bunted. Yes the runner moved up, but the Yankees gave away an out. Gardner was congratulated in the dugout like he did something good, but the Yankees’ chances of winning the game had just gone down by .062.
I know the Yankees blew a lot of chances and this 1 bunt was only part of the problem. But the Yankees have a lot of great hitters. Their goal each game should be to get as many of them to the plate as possible. There are only 3 outs an inning and that is the most valuable thing. Yet Girardi insists on giving up an out whenever one of these situations comes up. There is part of me that assumes this must change eventually; baseball is slow to evolve but there is so much at stake these days in terms of money if nothing else, that managers will have to rethink how they manage games – because if they don’t, there are a lot of smart GMs out there who will find someone who will. The Yankees aren’t paying their players over $200 million so they can give away important outs simply because that’s how the game has always been played.
The bunt is not a universally bad thing. It’s a good skill and can be used effectively in many situations. The way Girardi uses it though – sacrificing outs – is not one of those situations.
Joakim Soria: -.268
Need more proof that wins are a pretty pointless stat? Soria got the win in this game despite being – easily – the Royals’ worst pitcher. Every other pitcher had a positive WPA. Soria just did not have it in terms of both velocity and control.
Derek Jeter: -.314
An 0 for 6 night for The Captain. I know he has looked good recently, but I still think he will be lowered in the order sometime this season. Even Brian Cashman hinted that there would be some lineup changes. Isn’t that the most obvious and logical change?
Buddy Carlyle: -.350
Yes, I was surprised that Buddy came out for the 10th and even more surprised that he came out for the 11th. But with Joba overworked and Soriano out, there weren’t a lot of options. I would have gone with Luis Ayala first, but that is nitpicking. What is most frustrating is all the walks. How many times does a leadoff walk have to score before it’s clear that you need to avoid them at all costs? At this point, I’d rather just see a guy hit a homerun. Make them earn the run. And if you can’t simply throw a strike, then you probably should not be pitching in the majors. Robertson walked 2 in 2/3 of an inning, Carlyle walked 3 in an inning, and Ayala walked 1 in an inning. That is simply unacceptable. Melky Cabrera walked 3 times last night. That should never happen.