2 May 2016
Last night notwithstanding, and boy was I wrong about that one, the Yankees have been putrid with their bats. They are tied for 27th in runs scored and are averaging a minuscule 3.5 runs per game. While much has been made over their terrible batting average with runners in scoring position, that’s not the real problem. The real problem is they are not getting on base and they are not hitting for power. Let me explain.
You can read a math-heavy article about average with runners in scoring position and how little it actually influences run-scoring here, but let me try to condense and clarify. The two biggest factors in determining offensive output are OBP and SLG. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The higher the OBP, the more runners on base. The more runners on base, the more chances to score. The higher the SLG, the further the runners advance on base, again the result is more scoring chances. Yes, the Yankees are dead last in hitting with runners in scoring position at .203, but look at Arizona right above them at .206. The Diamondbacks are not hitting with runners in scoring position, but have scored 123 runs- seventh-most in baseball thanks to an OBP of .323 and a SLG of .457. (The Yankees are at .305 and .365.) Or take Atlanta, fourth-best in hitting with runners in scoring position at .290, but below the Yankees in runs scored with 79 because of OBP and SLG’s of .299 and .287 (SLG<OBP is not a common occurrence)
So if you believe me on that, figuring out what is wrong with the offense can be pinpointed easily. Use OPS+ which measures a players OPS figure compared to the league. 100 equals the league average, and every point away from 100 means a player is that percentage above or below average. So an OPS+ of 110 means 10% better, while 90 means 10% worst. Here are the numbers for the Yankee regulars:
Now a small sample size warning should be flashing, but Headley’s number is terrible. He is 76% worse than an average MLB-er so far this year. He is hitting line drives at the lowest-rate by far in his career (probably the reason he doesn’t have an extra-base hit) while hitting fewer fly balls in general. He is the anchor of this offense and the Yankees are smart to hit him 9th right now, but might be smarter if they played Torreyes more. The kid put up decent numbers in the minors and is only 23, and he can’t really do worse than Headley at this point.
But beyond that tweak, the Yankees don’t have a lot of bullets to use. So far Hicks is doing nothing offensively, and Ellsbury has started hitting a bit more recently. Ackley hasn’t hit either, and Castro is currently the best offensive player on the team while Teixeira is right at the league average. Didi is off to a bad start, but again the sample sizes are still so small. And while everyone points to the Yankees’ age, the three worst hitters in the lineup are the youngest in the lineup, with the exception of Castro. That could be a reason to hope for improvement, time will tell.