Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wrong, long, and losing

This started out as a comment to Alphonso's post below, but it got too long and leeched into another issue entirely, so it's post time.

Of course, we didn't get the right guy. That was kind of a given, but since Babe-san would not sign with us, it's like Jesse Jackson said back in the 1970s: "The moot."

I was clenching my teeth when the Yankees got Stanton, regardless of Judge and other players singing their hosannas. It seemed to upset the delicate apple cart that the Yanks had achieved near the end of last season. Now, instead of one gigantic guy who hits a lot of home runs but strikes out four or five times as much, we have two. I'm not sure what the statisticians and number crunchers have to say, but that equates to a big gaping hole in the lineup. And it puts more weight on the shoulders of Gardner, Didi, and Sanchez to be productive enough to pick up the slack. (Would've included Bird in there, but it looks more and more like he's the second coming of Nick Johnson, with his foot being what Nick's wrist was.) Say Clank and Judge are up 1200 times, and maybe they hit 100 home runs but strike out 400 times. That's gonna kill a lot of rallies and scoring opportunities. (Judge's silver lining is his OBP, which hovers in the .400s. Over 100 walks is nice, but it still shifts the burden to other guys. They didn't pay Mantle and Reggie and DiMag and Tino to walk.)

All of which would be less of a problem if we had the pitching. But so far, as we all know, we don't. In fact, aside from Severino and a few guys in the bullpen (who are not named Betances and Chapman), we got nothin'. When your pitching staff basically demands that you score 10 runs a game to notch a win, the strike-out kings become that much more of an albatross.

There has been some discussion over the years that continuing to hit into the shift and striking out with regularity (yeah, the Mick did strike out quite a bit for his day, but he also hit .325) are fine, since the power numbers make up for it and more. But we watch the games, and the reality seems different than the theory and the numbers. It shows that we struggle when guys do it, and it shows that over and over and over.

The turn in the game that brought us to this point is inexplicable, at least to me. Supposedly, the stats say striking out one-third or more of the times you come to the plate is fine, because you gain from the HRs that result from this approach.

I still don't buy it. Maybe because I'm an antediluvian fossil from another era, or maybe because having five or six guys in the lineup who hit .300 give you interminably more chances to score, wear out pitchers, and drive the other team nuts. Psychological factors are completely lost when you go with numbers alone. And so are a lot of games. 

But, you know, I hope I'm completely wrong and we win 100. Plus, I'm old. What do I know?

1 comment:

KD said...

Nice post on the state of the game, John. Baseball is slowly dying and it's the statistician who will drive the hearse.