Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why's Everybody Getting Antsy About The Offense?

(Mark Teixeira: The worst player with 4 HR and 10 RBI through 9 games in MLB history.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

The usually reliable Mark Feinsand fell victim to the typical NY media worryworting this morning in his article about the "struggling" Yankee offense. 

"Imagine what the Yankees' record would be right now if the lineup was actually hitting.

Yes, the Bombers are tied for the American League lead with 18 home runs, but they rank in the lower half of the league in average (.236) and on-base percentage (.311), relying far too much on the longball to score." (via The Daily News)

The rest of the article isn't as "end of the world" as you would expect with that beginning, and Feinsand does acknowledge that it is early in the season and some of the low numbers possessed by Yankee regulars right now are to be expected in such small sample sizes.  But the fact that he's looking at just batting average and OBP as evidence of the Yankees' team-wide offensive woes is flawed and the implied idea that the Yankees hitting so many home runs is a bad thing is completely ludicrous.

Joe Pawlikowski at RAB touched on the same subject this morning, saying:

"When the home runs stop flowing, the logic goes, the Yankees will face trouble scoring runs. Yet this blatantly ignores what we’ve all learned from years of watching baseball.

The team you see on the field will change in the course of the next few months. The players might remain the same, though there’s a good chance we’ll see changes there, too. But the manner in which the team plays will always be changing."

And that right there is the important thing to remember.  What's happening right now, good or bad offensively, is not indicative of what can or will happen moving forward to the next game, the next week, or the next month.  The sample size so far is too small to be making any kind of judgments, and the argument that the Yankees could be in trouble if this continues overshadows what is really important, that being that the Yankees have managed to be a productive offensive team despite their apparent early struggles.  Case in point:

- While they rank 9th and 8th in the AL in BA and OBP respectively, the Yankees as a team rank 4th in OPS thanks to their high SLG percentage (cough, cough: home runs).  They might not be getting a lot of hits, but the hits they are getting are big hits.

- Their 50 runs scored ranks 5th in the AL.  Again, they might not be hitting all the time, but they're making the most out of the hits they get.

- Even with the recent 0-18 mini-slump, Teix is still 2nd in the AL in HR and RBI.

- The Yankees are the only team in the AL with 4 players in the top 25 in OPS (A-Rod 7th, Martin 16th, Cano 19th, Teix 24th).

And that is the point that Feinsand and I'm sure plenty of other people seem to be missing.  It's not a bad thing that the Yankees aren't hitting as well as we'd like them to be, and it's certainly not a bad thing that they're bashing home runs and doubles all over the ballpark to score their runs.  On the contrary, it's good that they are showing power now when the hitting for average isn't there collectively because it's putting them in a position to win.  And as Joe Paw stated, what we see now from the lineup isn't what we're going to see later on.  Things are going to balance out. C-Grand and Gardner and Posada will pick it up. Martin will come back to Earth a bit.  And when that happens, the Yankees will still be productive as a whole, which is the most important thing in contributing to winning baseball.

Joe said it best at the end of his post:

"This type of thing happens every year. At some point people say that the Yankees don’t do this, or the Yankees don’t do that. Maybe it’s true for that moment in time. But as the season progresses the team changes. Players who slump early start to streak. Guys who hit a ton of homers might cool down, but that doesn’t mean they become unproductive.... The Yankees offense as a whole, though, will be just fine. To think otherwise is to ignore years of experience watching a 162-game season unfold."

Basically, there's nothing to worry or write about with the Yankee offense right now.  Just be happy that they are helping the team win while the issues with the rotation continue to fester.


scooterb1 said...

The old adage: Good pitching always beats good hitting. That's the storyline on the last game with the Sux. As for the idea of a struggling offense, it's waaaaaay to early to talk about that. But I am getting ready to start talking about the struggling Phil Hughes!

Unknown said...

Yes indeed. That's tomorrow's post. That is a much bigger concern for me than whether or not the Yanks are hitting too many HRs.