Monday, April 29, 2019

Between the injuries and the replacements, the Yankees have found an amazing new way to score runs: Singles

A sad but standard move for following the 2019 Yankees: 

When you hear we've scored, you pull up the box score to learn who hit the home run. 

During the horrible first weeks of April, that's all this team seemed to do: Swing away, directly into the teeth of defensive over-shifts, and try to swat the ball not just out of the park, but out of the city.

Lately - in what historians may label "the Brett Gardner Batting Third Era" - things have changed. Last week, we beat the Angels by scoring six runs - and not one homer. Imagine that. Six runs... not one homer. Yesterday, we swatted two, but in the previous pair of victories against lowly SF, we hit only one HR in each game. It's as if these no-name replacement players are content to score the old fashioned way, moving from base to base. Wow! You can actually score without home runs! Who knew?

Last year, the Yankees set an all-time HR record. That got us the Wild Card. Today, we sit 5th in MLB behind Seattle, Milwaukee, Minnesota and the Dodgers. (Fourth in runs scored and 8th in batting average, at .262.) Of course, this will change. It's happened without last year's top HR threat (Giancarlo Stanton, 38) and the four team runner-ups (Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge... all with 27.) 

By this time next month, Stanton and Hicks should have returned. Judge and Gregorius should be in rehab. (Andujar? Who knows? He needs to play a few games.) And it's fair to wonder if, when the big hitters return, the team will abandon the ways that it just won five of six on the West Coast.

(By the way, one of the beauties of this last week is the compelling difference between us and the Redsocks, who suffered their early indignities on a West Coast swing. If we feared our own disaster on the road, that's now gone.) 

Aaron Boone was hired, at least in part, because of the easy going way he handles star players. To some extent - and I don't mean to diminish this, because some managers never learn it - Boone is paid to simply get the fuck out of the way. 

If the sluggers slug, the Yankees - at least on paper - should win enough games to make the playoffs. From there, it's a crap-shoot. But the other night, the Yankees won a game because replacement nobody Tyler Wade stole second base, and then scored on a single. In game after game, this team of forgettable names has strung together two-out singles and even sacrifice flies to score key runs. It's become fun to ditch the box score and actually see how the Yankees managed to score, rather than learn who clubbed the ball out of the park.

I wonder if Boone can, as Ken Singleton would say, "keep the merry-go-round moving," when the stars return. If so, this could be a great Yankee season. If not, and we revert to winning the team HR crown - well, we'll probably another Wild Card and a crap-shoot. But we all know what happens when home run hitters face playoff aces: They get shut down. The path to the World Series runs base to base. Will we remember the heroes of late April, back in the days when Brett Gardner batted third?


Anonymous said...

I'm so confused by your statement. Are you suggesting that hitting the ball, but NOT putting it over the fence, can score runs? How is this even possible?

Aren't the rules of the game of moneyball that the team with the best average launch angle at the end of the game wins? How are you supposed to perfect your launch angles if you hit situationally, get runners on base, and try to move them around the bases in whatever way is most advantageous? I mean you might score runs that way but your launch angle will be all out of whack. No way the boys up in the analytics department would go for that!

If your theory is right, you may be on to a whole new strategic approach to the game of moneyball. You could write a book called "Baseball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game." Maybe they'd even make a movie about you! I'd cast Jonah Hill, no offense.

JM said...

Everyone but Evil Anon will be sorry to see these kids go. This is baseball, as opposed to Home Run Derby. Though Sanchez's Grand Salami was pretty tasty and a nice change from his repeated whiffs... while trying to hit home runs and failing. Remember when it was touted that he was the best pure hitter of the youngsters who came up a little while back? What happened to that guy?

Swinging for the fences, that's what happened.

HoraceClarke66 said...

But let's not forget the key element in the turnaround—what is, in fact, the key element in every turnaround, everywhere: pitching.

Why was it that the Mensheviks were forced out by Lenin during the Russian Revolution? Was it their determination to remain in the war and their failure to come up with a slogan as good as the Bolsheviks'?

No. It was a lack of pitching.

How come for centuries larger armies in Asia, Africa, and the Americas failed to defeat exponentially smaller European forces? Was it a lack of firearms and the knowledge of how to maximize their use through military drill—or, in some cases, greater vulnerability to European diseases?

No. No pitching. Mesoamerica, to take just one example, did not develop a first-rate starter on its own for eons.

Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Paxton and Happ seem to have turned it around, German has been an unexpected joy, and for the most part, CC and Tiger Tanaka have been using their wiles to get by.

Also, the Arson Squad has been a little better, improving their Coll/Bull W/L to 7-12.

If this keeps up, it won't matter if we're bunting our way on board or back to slugging.


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Mostly true confessions:

I admit, I'd rather see Hicks in the OF than Gardner. And: I've always liked the way Gardy played the game.

I admit, I'd rather see Red Clint playing than Giancarlo. Don't tell me about HRs, his salary, etc.

I admit, I am already HATING whatever these geniuses will do to get Tulo onto the roster (i.e., whoever they let go is gonna hurt). If they release Tulo (thus keeping Gio and Wade) I will be ecstatic.

I admit, I have lost hope in a recovery of The Glory That Was Severino. This is depressing as shit, as the guy is only 25 years old.

I admit, the early-season surge of Curtis Lemay surprised me. I repeatedly say to myself in the mirror -- "You know nothing." (yes, my wife agrees...) Either that, or a depressing late-season collapse (at least by him) is coming.

AND: I admit, I didn't read my history and learn that the Mensheviks came up very short in pitching. Maybe they didn't have enough lefties on the roster?

Retired Stratman said...

What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ape in apricot?
What do they got that we ain’t got?

You can say that again. (Ta-da!)

Anonymous said...

I guess you were in the bathroom during the homeruns by Voit, Sanchez, Torres, Urshela, etc., etc. It's true that this is not as much an all-or-nothing offense, but it's still heavily power-dependent.

Anonymous said...

Hey Imbecile JM--I've written several posts celebrating the flourishing of the "B" team and touting its virtues. You're a moron.

Anonymous said...

Dear assembled dunces: look at the post-1920 teams with the highest win totals. Check out the homerun totals. (Yankee fans: hint--1927, 1961, etc.)

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Yeah, but none of these Replacements will pose nude in ESPN's 2019 Skin Rag like eight-packs Judge and Stanton.

These Replacements just win ballgames.

Anyone can do that, but it takes real skill to over-train and get oiled down in a manner approved by Bristol.

Anonymous said...

Joe FoB,

I admit that I admit your admittances are pretty much the way I feel as well.


Mesoamerica has more than made up for it's slow start.

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

The correlation between home runs and win totals is not simple or direct--but clearly it's there if you look at the teams with the top win totals since 1920. You guys act as though it's still 1912.

If homeruns are so unimportant, why were you all slavering over Bryce Harper and Manny Machado rather than LeMahieu?

There's a lot of passion on this blog, but not much coherency or intellectual consistency.

13bit said...

What a miserable bastard.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Doug K., the turning point was Denny Martinez, I believe. If the Aztecs—ballplayers themselves—had had him, there is NO WAY Cortes beats them. And I'm not referring to our own Nestor Cortes.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Stratman: EXACTLY! Now you got it...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Joe FOB, I didn't think much of The General, either, but he has shown me how wrong I was.

And hey, you gotta be careful saying things like that in front of the wife. They never miss an opportunity!

ranger_lp said...

When your whole team is on the IL, you go against the analytics because most of your HR hitters are there.

I was thinking as the Rays invented the opener that the Yanks are showing the league that they have become the SF Giants of a few years ago, winning with cast-off players. If I were Stanton, Judge, Hicks and Andujar, I'd be concerned. This might be the way to construct a roster and all the teams might do the same. The best analytic is a puny player's salary to a GM.

HoraceClarke66 said...

But as far as that goes, Judge and Andujar are dirt cheap, and even Hicks is relatively inexpensive by today's standards.

The one, indissoluble lump is Stanton, and he has a contract...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Also, it depends WHICH cast-off players you have.

Tyler Austin was playing as if he didn't want to be there all series. So did a lot of the other Giants.

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