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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The real reasons Yankees bats are struggling

It’s not strikeouts, not really. Ten teams have struck out as much as or more than the Yankees, among them the Rays, arguably baseball’s best team, and the Giants, baseball’s biggest surprise team. (The celebrated 1927 Yankees struck out a ton by the standards of the time, anyway.) It’s not an overreliance on the “three true outcomes” of strikeouts, walks and homers, because while the Yankees do those things the fifth-most often, the top three teams (Rays, Giants, Brewers) would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

It’s not injuries, mostly. Sure, they’ve had their share—Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks most prominently—but to date, the Yankees have missed out on just over 5% of their projected preseason Wins Above Replacement, less than 16 other teams. It’s not platoon splits; they’ve performed equally against lefties and righties….

It is that they’ve done a poor job of scoring the runners they put on—worst in baseball at that, importantly—and while that’s obviously bad, that’s a bit more about describing what has happened than predicting what will happen. That might be a little about the fact that no team has had more runners thrown out on the bases (28, most in baseball) and no team has taken a lower rate of extra bases (30%, lowest in baseball). This is not a good baserunning team, not that it was ever expected to be.

Still, since a lot of those underlying indicators—good hard-hit rate, good plate decisions, high walk rate—are strong, this feels like less of a team-wide approach issue than it does a collection of underperforming players. (Most of them, anyway. Aaron Judge has been outstanding.) Given that the pitching has also been outstanding, the lineup is responsible for almost all of the 2021 team’s struggles.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 08:49 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 08, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6023153)
The bats are fine, AFAIK, it's the guys swingin' 'em that's the problem.

Have the Yanks ever had three sub-.200 BA starters this late in the season?
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: June 08, 2021 at 09:35 AM (#6023154)
their countless baserunning blunders border on the comical.

and the algorithm that runs the team doesn't have any instruction for "manager" Aaron Boone on what to do about it.

on a good day, the team looks listless.

accountability? also not in the algorithm. blunder away, kids!

it is amazing that they aren't nearly dead yet, though. if they can purchase a pulse and stay under the salary cap...
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 08, 2021 at 10:35 AM (#6023166)
Gleyber is the one guy that really jumps out at me. What is going on with him? Is there something about playing shortstop that is dragging Gleyber down? He was great in 2018 as a second baseman then splitting time great again in 2019. As a full time shortstop the last two years he hasn't been what he was.

Now in fairness in 2019 he was actually considerably better as a shortstop than as a second baseman and last "year" is actually "third of a year" so really we are at less than one full down year for him. But still, he's the guy that jumps at me. LeMahieu has two full seasons over 100 OPS+, Sanchez is what Sanchez is and Urshela feels like a guy coming back to earth. Torres though, I'd expect him to still be putting a 120+ OPS+.

EDIT: I'm starting to think my prediction that Frazier would be better than Judge is not going to be correct.
   4. Rally Posted: June 08, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6023167)
Gleyber is the one guy that really jumps out at me. What is going on with him? Is there something about playing shortstop that is dragging Gleyber down? He was great in 2018 as a second baseman then splitting time great again in 2019. As a full time shortstop the last two years he hasn't been what he was.


His batting average is right at his career mark, his OBP is slightly better. He's just stopped hitting the ball over the fence. 38 in 2019 and now just 6 in his last 320 AB.

He's had 28 AB against the Orioles with no homers, that's his second most AB against any team, so it can't be explained by scheduling quirks. In 2019 he hit 13 against the birds in only 66 AB.
   5. The Duke Posted: June 08, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6023170)
Maybe they should hire chili Davis as hitting coach
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 08, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6023183)
Gleybar:

EV:
2018: 88.8
2019: 89.1
2020: 88.6
2021: 85.4

GB/FB:
2018: 0.77
2019: 0.89
2020: 1.07
2021: 1.13


   7. Rally Posted: June 08, 2021 at 01:19 PM (#6023186)
I've got a guy in OOTP doing a Gleyber. Billy Bass is a poor man's Mike Trout. Good all-around player but unlike the other fish not a great one. Over the previous 6 years his HR totals are 20, 24, 30, 27, 36, and 21. This year he has just one in his first 198 at bats. But his batting and OBP are within normal levels for him.

Hard to tell if this is just random variation, or at 30 years of age he's hit a wall.
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 08, 2021 at 02:05 PM (#6023196)
#4, if he had such an outrageous concentration of his production in 2019 against the O's, couldn't we argue that he was never really that good?
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 08, 2021 at 02:45 PM (#6023206)
I'm starting to think my prediction that Frazier would be better than Judge is not going to be correct
I’m still pulling for you, Jose.
   10. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 02:55 PM (#6023207)
I'm starting to think my prediction that Frazier would be better than Judge is not going to be correct


You are just looking at it all wrong. Clearly, since the Yankees aren't winning, Judge isn't valuable at all, because if he was, the Yankees would be winning. If Frazier can light a fire under the team and get them going, well then, you can clearly see who is the more valuable of the two.
   11. weiss-man Posted: June 08, 2021 at 03:05 PM (#6023211)
I've read the article, but at no point does it discuss WHY certain players are struggling with the bat. Could it be the de-juiced ball?
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: June 08, 2021 at 04:56 PM (#6023222)
I've got a guy in OOTP doing a Gleyber. Billy Bass is a poor man's Mike Trout. Good all-around player but unlike the other fish not a great one. Over the previous 6 years his HR totals are 20, 24, 30, 27, 36, and 21. This year he has just one in his first 198 at bats. But his batting and OBP are within normal levels for him.

Hard to tell if this is just random variation, or at 30 years of age he's hit a wall.


But that's just the issue if you are running a sim. Either the program keeps the underlying abilities the same (gradual improvements or declines at best), and what you see is just normal variation, or the sim decided that the player really did hit the wall and will likely never bounce back. Some sims however are quite nice about it and will actually let you see the underlying skills (more or less-in Baseball Mogul if you paid your scouts sufficient salaries the ratings would be pretty much spot on). Many the time I saw a formerly key player drop in pretty much everything and had the sad decision to either cut him or salary dump him somehow.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: June 08, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6023233)
Maybe they should hire chili Davis as hitting coach

Or the newly available Khris Davis. Or take Chris Davis off the O's hands and turn him into a well-paid hitting coach.

more or less-in Baseball Mogul if you paid your scouts sufficient salaries the ratings would be pretty much spot on

"Sufficiently?" Move #1 in Baseball Mogul (OK, ca 15 years ago) is find out who spends the most on the minors and blow them out of the water and never let it flag. You'll be constantly faced with the difficult decision of whether you move ARod to third to put the next ARod at SS or should you trade him for the next Chipper Jones. Decisions, decisions, decisions. In OOTP, I used to have the best hitting and pitching coaches at the ML level, the 2nd best at AAA, the next best at AA and the next best at A (all more than fairly compensated); then you had to get a smidgen tricky to do that. The Green Bay mini-dynasty (think a more dominant Rays) couldn't always pull that off but good coaches were frequently suckers "but we are a struggling small market franchise, you can really display your genius."

But then OOTP did get realistic/complicated enough I figured I needed an assistant GM to help keep on top of everything and MIT physics PhDs don't come quite that cheap.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: June 08, 2021 at 06:34 PM (#6023236)
Oh yeah, the real bats ....

Gleyber is still barely over 2 full years of PAs. The move to SS probably wasn't good for the bat but, as mentioned, it's really barely a half-season of "struggle" where "struggle" is a 103 OPS+ and 2.1 oWAR from a MI.

The Yanks have some under-performance among the starters but mainly their offense has been decimated by their bench -- could be a random blip, could be a crappy job of putting together a bench. But read down the OPS+ column at b-r and, from guys not expected to play much, you get OPS+ of 71, 60, 64, 60, 53, 33. That group has totaled 517 PA, more than 2 full positions at this point in the season. Add LeMahieu, Frazier and Hicks to that and that's another 554 PA around a 80 OPS+ but that you can kinda live with if the bench is producing.

On Frazier/Judge ... I never expected Judge to be much more than an average-ish poor-fielding corner slugger (oops ... and who knew he'd move that well). But my instincts always thought Frazier would flop. Not for any sensible reason, just a feeling. He's actually hit much better in his career than I realized ... and of course it's still just barely over a season of PAs ... but score one for irrational bias!!

Not based on any analysis but I have really soured on young bats who play a poor corner OF. I know it's a long-running baseball tradition, there are plenty who are decent players, I'd be happy to trot one out on my team and I've rooted for many. But even if it's just over-reaction to the Schwarber experience, it's a long disappointing haul before they either wash out or magically turn into Nelson Cruz. Schwarber could be that guy. So could Eloy Jimenez but I'm a lot less annoyed at trading him away after seeing him -- lousy defense, so far 122 OPS+ in a bit over a season, now unfortunately hurt (maybe he'd have been a monster this year), now he'll be a 25-yo average corner OF the next time he takes the field. (Apparently some chance he'll return this season.) Still young, easily worth a starting spot, could still become a big hitter but doesn't really look like a big star. (Saying it out loud guarantees he'll be a big star.)

Maybe it's the restricted benches. Schwarber is a perfectly average sort of player and hasn't been atrocious in the field (despite his rep) ... but he's not a big bat and he hasn't hit lefties. Put him on a 70s O's team and Weaver would get good value out of him as a platoon hitter; run him out there every day and 25-30% of the time you've got a poor fielder who can't hit.

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