Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Early returns on Yankees offense not great

202204221154Tms Mngtrpub Sports Early Returns On Yankees Offense Are 1 Ny5

The Yankees still have plenty of time to get people to crow, but right now they look like a slightly remixed version of the feast-or-famine team that faltered last season.

If their minimum off-season works, and the Yankees enter the playoffs without the elite shortstop or No. 2 starting pitcher they looked destined for last October, much of it will be forgotten. They certainly seem a few pieces away from a complete puzzle, though. While the season takes time to develop, the feelings that come from watching this team are still a little off, something that is arguably more important than any statistics at this time of year.

But while we’re on the subject, let’s look at those statistics. The Yankees won 92 games last year, but many of those victories were not because of him but despite his offense. The 2021 Yankees ditch the collective .237/.322/.407. The batting average placed them 23rd out of 30 teams. Only five teams struck at a high clip. They can be considered above average, but only by the shortest hair on their clean-shaven chin. The Yankees posted 101 WRC+ last season; 100 is the average.

Now, even with Anthony Rizzo setting his reunion tour on fire, the Yankees have 95 WRC+ through their first 13 games. Josh Donaldson replaces Gio Ursella and two defensive specialists in the old place of Gary Sanchez mark the biggest on-field change from last year’s disappointment. The club also hired new hitting coaches, one of whom had the tagline: Hit Strike Hard.

This idea has not yet been born in reality. The Yankees are swinging on 35% of pitches outside the strike zone, the second worst in MLB. With the critical admission that it is still too early, the Yankees have reversed course in the plate discipline department. Their chase rate last year was 28.3%, behind only the Padres, Giants and Dodgers for the best look in the league.

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When they’re swinging on strike, as hitting coach Dillon Lawson preaches, often they’re not hitting them at all. In their first 13 games, the Raiders have a Z-contact%, or rate of contact, on pitches inside the strike zone. This is almost identical to the 83.0% posted last year, which was 29th in the league.

While you can’t put a lot of stock into those numbers in April, losses are still all the same at this stage of the season. Closing in their two most recent losses – once by Michael Pineda and the Tigers, once literally a series loss to the Baltimore Orioles – cherished memories of the group that scored a zero or a run 20 times last year.

To make matters worse, the Mets are riding high thanks, in large part, to the moves they made, while the Yankees were mostly pats. After losing the last of the wild card game, Yankee general manager Brian Cashman said he wanted the team to stay stronger, Starling Marte certainly fits that bill, but he’s already scoring on doubles and stealing bases in Queens instead of the Bronx.

Donaldson probably wasn’t brought up for his athleticism, but it’s worth noting that the Yankees’ new third baseman ranks in the 13th percentile of MLB sprint speed. Partly due to his waning pace, Donaldson made his way to 22 double plays last season, finishing second in the American League. The Yankees have already been involved in 11 double plays this year — the second in the AL as of Friday morning — with Donaldson rolling in a particularly slow-moving rally killer during Toronto’s early-season loss, another shutout.

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Eduardo Escobar, the Mets’ new third baseman, is up in the 74th percentile of sprint speed. In many ways, Escobar (a switch-hitter who can play multiple infield positions, runs, and is a knowledgeable base runner) is exactly what the Yankees needed.

Since this means so much to the current Yankee front office, it will cost him far less money than Donaldson, who is also three years younger. Isiah Kiner-Falefa certainly adds a dash of athleticism to the Yankees, and she’s off to a quick start, but Gold Glover has never been the idea of ​​a good hitter throughout the season.

Until the Yankees can prove it can work, their off-season strategy will be ruthlessly put aside. It is the nature of playing at Yankee Stadium, where the microscope lens gets tighter and tighter with each loss, and where fans are also being treated to the same type of baseball they thought a dramatic roster overhaul would bring.

Instead, it’s the same, whereas the Mets are the toast of the city. This all comes with warnings of this happening quickly, but right now it looks like a change in the city’s baseball hierarchy is upon us.


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