From my uncle, after the Yankees’ dispiriting 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays yesterday:
While it is nice to have Sabathia back and Andy [Pettitte] looming on the horizon…the big problem for the Yankees continues to be stranding an absurd amount of men on base.
The Yankees’ failure with runners in scoring position this season has become an albatross around the team’s neck and a sore spot for fans. The problem is simple to show statistically:
YANKEES SITUATIONAL HITTING 2012
Bases Empty: .283/.339/.476 (.815 OPS, 1st in MLB)
RISP: .251/.327/.427 (.754 OPS, 10th in MLB)
RISP w/ 2 Outs: .231/.332/.390 (.722 OPS, 17th in MLB)
Bases Loaded: .211/.255/.472 (.727 OPS, 15th in MLB)
There’s a reason the Yankees score such a high percentage of their runs off the home run. They are comparatively awful with men in scoring position, particularly with two outs or with the bases loaded. For lack of a better word, they choke.
And it’s a top-down problem for the Yankee offense. Check the OPS numbers of the Yankees’ best hitter, Robinson Cano:
Bases Empty: .916
RISP w/ 2 Outs: .704
Bases Loaded: .712
Cano goes from an All-Star level hitter with no one on base (and, curiously, with just a runner on first) to a slightly below average player with RISP. The Yankees depend heavily on the top of their order, so the millstone that is Cano’s split statistics with RISP (and similar numbers for Mark Teixeira) is pretty damn heavy.
Wednesday, the Yankees went 3-17 with runners in scoring position. In the fourth inning, they loaded the bases with one out before Nick Swisher and Cano struck out. In the sixth, Jayson Nix doubled to lead off the inning, but the Yankees did not score. In the eighth, two straight doubles to start the inning cut the Toronto lead to 6-5, but the Yankees failed to score Russell Martin from second with none out.
Next time you watch the Yankees play, apply a cardinal (if somewhat anachronistic) rule of baseball to the Yanks’ offense: one out should equal one base. In other words, if you have a runner on second and no one out, you should score. If you have a runner on third and fewer than two outs, you should score. Odds are, you will notice the Yankees leaving a lot of “supposed to score” runs on the table. That may be fine in a 162-game season, but it could very well be deadly in a short playoff series.