For the most part, things are going well for the Yankees so far this season. They are just 3.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who also have the best record in baseball, and are 3rd in the AL in runs scored per game.
At a second glance though things aren’t going so well for the Yankees, especially over the past 20 games where they have played just .500 baseball. Last season, when the Yankees won 97 games, they averaged 5.4 runs per game. That number is down to 4.9 this season and 4.0 over the last 20.
The stats are similar to last year’s numbers with a few exceptions. The Yankees 2011 line was .263/.343/.444/.788, over the last 20 games this year the line was .263/.324/.443/.767. Pretty much the only difference has .020 points in OBP. Another noticible difference is that the Yankees have been stealing bases at a lesser pace from 0.9 steals per game in 2011 to 0.5 per game over the last 20 games.
Hitting with runners and scoring position has been a bit of an issue. A year ago they put up this line w/RISP: .273/.361/.455/.816, but this year those numbers have dropped to .243/.341/.438/.778. Essentially, they are not hitting the ball as often and when they are, they aren’t hitting it with as much power.
There are a few reasons to expect a bit of a turn around though. For one thing, it is still very early. This isn’t football, a month and a half of baseball is a very small part of the season. The RISP numbers were down in the first half of last season and they eventually came back up to be more in line with the overall numbers. That is likely to happen again this year.
The downfall of Mark Teixeira also comes into play. In a short sample size, his absolutely putrid numbers have a bigger affect on the overall picture. The $180-million-man may be in in decline, but he certainly isn’t this bad this soon. He’ll eventually get over his cough and start putting up big numbers. When he does that’ll raise the power numbers and perhaps he’ll begin to walk a bit more and raise the OBP numbers too.
The stolen base thing is an easy fix as well. The Yankees have been without Gardner for about a month now which has done a huge number on their running game. Further, they have now sent their second fastest player Eduardo Nunez to the minors leaving them with just Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez to swipe bags – a big drop-off from a year ago. Once Gardner comes back though, it should add an extra dynamic to the Yankees lineup that has been missing.
The Yankees are currently sitting 3rd in the AL in runs scored per game and 5th overall in MLB. That doesn’t sound bad, but for a team that is usually in the top two, it is a drop-off. Once Teixeira rebounds, and to a lesser extent Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano too, and Gardner comes back, which shouldn’t be too much longer, things will change in the Bronx.
The Yankees lineup is the oldest in baseball, at an average age of 32.7 years-old, more than 2.5 years older than the AL’s 2nd oldest Red Sox. That might have at least played a small role in their recent struggles, but there are signs that they should bounce back eventually.
That is unless such an old lineup starts to deal with injuries.