Friday, December 16, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:13 AM
Well, it's not a clean and just world, and for Tex, the problem wasn't injuries, age or blonde aerobics instructors. He just never solved the defensive over-shift. He didn't figure out how to bunt, check his swing or hit to an opposite field. He just blasted balls at the fielders who were perched in the gaps, and now he's pitching tapes to ESPN. Listen: I love the guy and wish him the best, but the truth be told, Tex last year was so terrible, so soul-crushingly ineffective, that I am massaging my personal Canyon of Heroes to celebrate that he is gone. Last year, Tex hit .204. Two oh four. To owe for! Horrible. And, yeah, part of his decline came from a wrist injury that robbed him of 2012-13. But Tex never recovered from the over-shifts that began with Joe Madden in Tampa and spread through the game like chlamydia.
In recent years, Yank fans have enjoyed a ringside seat to the downfall of numerous big name sluggers, who came to Gotham with high expectations and finished as dead pull hitters, swinging drunkenly for the seats. There was the Giambino, the Grandyman, the Pronk, the Andruw Jones, the Stephen Drew, the Brian McCann, Alexander the Great and, of course, Tex. Over the years, they turned the heart of our batting order into the Mohave Desert.
Defensive over-shifts have done as much to kill the Yankee brand name as bad trades, wasted draft picks or even Hal's love of the almighty nickel. On that note - and with fingers crossed - let us rejoice in the notion that Matt Holliday, our figurative 2017 cleanup stud, hits 'em like this.
I stole that schematic from River Ave, who appropriated it from Baseball Savant. It shows a RH slugger who still uses the entire field. Holliday will bat near Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, and right now, none would induce an over-shift. (I'm worried that Bird will devolve into a pull slugger... Aaron Judge, too.) Coupled with Gardner (if not traded), Ellsbury, Didi and Headley, we might actually go a few innings without seeing a defensive over-shift. (I'm also worried about Starlin Castro; did teams start shifting on him late in the season?)
This is critical, because one thing we've learned about the Yankees: Hitting coaches don't matter. They pass through the clubhouse like a Fleet enema. Once a hitter becomes a star, he apparently decides that the word "coach" is an abbreviation of "cockroach." He stops listening and treats every suggestion like an unsolicited email from Vladimir Putin.
So maybe - just maybe - our young players will listen to Matt Holliday. After all, he will be 37 this season - same age as Tex. Ah, if only the world were clean and just...