Friday, July 23, 2010
Wait, Did You Feel Something?
What's that rumbling? Is the Yankee offense starting to wake up? Could we finally get to see everybody clicking at the same time? A first look at the box scores might not support that point, but a quick look at the top 6 guys in the lineup over the last 10 games, even just a basic, non-sabermetric look, shows that the signs are there that everybody might be starting to get it together at the same time. Observe:
- Derek Jeter: only 10 for his last 44 for a .227 BA with 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 10 R. Nothing to write home about, especially for a hitter with a track record like Jeter. But dig deeper into his last 4 games: 7-19, .368 BA, 1 HR, 7 R. Jeter has come on these last few games, hitting the ball with more authority and being the table setter you want your leadoff hitter to be. He's still not taking enough pitches and striking out a little too much (7 in last 10 games), but the contact he is making is much more Jeter-esque than what we've seen for the better part of the year.
- Nick Swisher: 15-44, .341 BA, 5 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R. Swish has kept on doing what he's done since the beginning of the season before the break and since the break, and has proved just as valuable as the number 2 hitter as he was in the 6-hole. he continues to hit both for average and for power, racking up RBIs from the 2-spot and keeping the table set for the big boppers behind him. After last night's game Swish has now scored a run in 8 straight games.
- Mark Teixeira: 17-40, .425 BA, 5 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R. Teix has been on an absolute tear for the month of July (1.256 OPS) and if it wasn't for the still below-average season tripleslash (.261/.369/.475), his numbers would almost look in line with what we would expect from him. The fact that he has more runs scored than ribbies is most likely a byproduct of Jeter's rough patch before the AS break and the fact that A-Rod has been mashing with RISP behind him. Teix has inched his way into the top 10 in some major categories (3rd in R, 9th in HR, 6th in RBI, 2nd in BB) and is completely locked in right now.
- Alex Rodriguez: 12-41, .293 BA, 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 4 R. People can say whatever they want about his injuries and his reduced power, but the fact is A-Rod is still putting together a very productive season. The batting average is still down, but he is getting the hits when they count and doing his job as the #4 hitter by cleaning up. Like Teix, his season tripleslash is down (.275/.347/.500), but all 3 continue to creep up and by season's end we should see him somewhere around .285-.290/.370-.380/.540-.550, which is much closer to his career averages.
- Robinson Cano: 11-38, .289 BA, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R. He isn't mashing like he was in April, but nobody expected Cano to keep that pace up all season. Bottom line is he is still doing what he's done all season long and what he was expected to do as the #5 hitter and that's produce. Of his 11 hits over the last 10 games, 6 have gone for extra bases, which has helped drive in runners and create RISP opportunities for the hitters behind him. Cano is also earning more respect from opposing pitchers, as shown by his higher count of pitches seen and more intentional walks. Oh, and he's still top 10 in pretty much every major offensive statistical category in the AL.
- Jorge Posada: 9-34, .265 BA, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R. These numbers don't look too sexy, but if you look at the numbers closer, they show that Jorge has done most of his damage since the AS break. He's scored all 3 of his runs since the break and his both homers since the break. Jorge has an RBI in 6 straight games, most likely due to Cano and his extra-base hits and intentional walks being right in front of him, and if he could get some help from the bottom of the order, maybe he would score a few more runs. a 2.2/1 k/BB ratio isn't great, but what else do you expect when Jorge swings at pretty much every curveball in the dirt?
So there you go. Good signs aplenty for all of the top 6 in the lineup. With Granderson still up and down and Gardner in a mini-slump right now, these guys have carried the load over the last few weeks, which is what everybody expects them to do anyway and what the team has needed since the break with the way the rotation has struggled.
Perhaps the best stat of all has been the BB/K ratio of the 3 power hitters in the middle. Cano has 7 BB to just 5 Ks, The Horse has 4 to 3, and Teix has 7 to 4. Not only are these guys making pitchers work harder and driving up their pitch counts, but they're also making them pay for it at the end of the at-bat one way or another. That's a lethal combination and is what was missing from these guys (mainly A-Rod and Teix) at the beginning of the season.
I'm not saying they've put all the pieces together just yet, but there's no denying that there has been more production from these 6 lately and that Yankees have won over the last week because of their offense. So far this year they haven't had a time where there's been more than 2 or 3 guys hitting well at the same time, and earlier in the season one of those guys was usually Gardner. If they can get 3 or 4 or 5 of these 6 mashing together, it could be a long rest of the summer for the competition.
And if they can get all 6 going, then you can pretty much wrap up the AL East and put a bow on it.