Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another Look At The Underwhelming Offense

(One of many not getting it done presently.  Courtesy of The AP)

I'm not going to bother trying to tip toe around the facts, because we're all smart enough to know what they are.  The Yankees are an absolute mess right now.  They're 4-9 in their last 13 games, their division lead is down to just 1 game, they're in the middle of a 10-game stretch against the 2 teams closest to overtaking them for the AL East lead, and they're showing no signs of turning anything around.  The roster is a jumbled mess of banged up superstars, old guys finally having their flaws exposed after being forced to play more than they should have earlier in the season, and middle-of-the-pack players turning in inconsistent performances, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the 1-9 lineup card that Joe fills out every day.

In these last 13 games, the Yankees have scored a total of 43 runs, just a tick under 3.31 per game.  That's hardly enough to win games regardless of what kind of pitching you're getting, and a surefire way to lose more than you win when you're getting the iffy starting pitching and horrid relief pitching that the Yankees are getting right now.  I've had this feeling that there are too many big gaps in the Yankees' run scoring these last 2 weeks, that in addition to not scoring enough runs in the innings they do score the Yankees are also not scoring in enough innings period.  Looking back through these past 13 games, there's definitely support for that theory.

The Yankees have played a total of 117 innings of baseball in their last 13 games, a number that comes out to a perfect average of 9 innings per game thanks to a couple of 8 offensive-inning home wins and the 11-inning extra-inning game against Toronto.  They have scored at least 1 run in just 26 of those 117 innings, a little over 22.2% and a value that comes out to an average of 2 scoring innings per game.  There has only been 1 game where they scored in more than 3 innings (8/27 against Toronto) and 10 in which they scored in 2 or fewer innings.  Overall, they have scored in the first 3 innings 10 times, the middle 3 innings 10 times, and the final 3 innings 6 times.  There have been 6 instances where they've gone 3 innings or more between scoring innings, each of those instances occurring in the 5 games in which they're scored in the 1st inning of play.  They've also only scored in the 8th inning or later 3 times, and they lost all 3 of those games.

The Yankees were already struggling with the quality factor of their offense.  Their problems hitting with RISP, inability to take extra bases on the basepaths, and hot-and-cold HR hitting have left many a scoring opportunity not as fulfilling as it could have been over the last 2 weeks.  Now they're compounded these offensive problems by not getting enough quantity in terms of even creating scoring opportunities for themselves.  They're going dark offensively for big stretches at a time, seemingly at least once a game, and when you aren't creating a lot of scoring chances and aren't maximizing your output on the chances you do have, that's how you end up averaging just 3.31 runs a game.

So does this mean anything?  And if so, what's the cause/solution?  To be honest, I really don't know.  I don't know if there's anything that can be taken from this that we don't already know.  In a way, this is nothing more than a personal catharsis of my building frustrations related to this offensive ineptitude.  Every offensive problem area (RISP Fail, station-to-station baseball, cold steaks, too many platoon bats, injuries, declining production from the middle of the order) can be considered a contributing factor to this current state of affairs, and until some of these problems start to turn around there probably isn't one definite solution.

The bottom line is that the Yankees are either without or with a less than 100% healthy version of their 3-6 hitters in the batting order right now, and the collection of players responsible for picking up that slack aren't getting it done.  That's not unexpected, as I'm sure there are plenty of other teams out there who would be going through the same thing as the Yankees right now if they were without the heart of their batting order.  But that doesn't make it any less frustrating and any less panic-inducing given that it's all happening in the final month of a pennant race.

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