Reassessing The Yankee Lineup At The Break

Wells K

Last and most certainly least in our quick little ASB reassessment series is the lineup.  By now, everybody's well versed in how weak this year's offense has been so the less said about it the better.  They rank in at least the bottom third of almost every major offensive category in baseball this season, and since the start of May they've been neck and neck with the Marlins for worst offense in the game.  Injuries have played a major part in the lineup's struggles this season, as have the cheap stopgap replacements for those injuries that have unfortunately had to take on bigger roles.  The lineup is the clear cut weakness of this team at the break, and if the Yankees don't end up making the postseason this year it will almost assuredly be due to the lack of offense.

Starting at the top is where you'll find the only consistent production from this group.  Brett Gardner has had a nice year at the plate and was arguably the team's best offensive player from mid-May through June.  He's taken a bit more of an aggressive approach hitting leadoff and he's added a little power to his game (7 HR, career high .150 ISO).  As bland as his overall numbers look, Ichiro Suzuki has actually been pretty good himself since June.  He hit .292/.333/.406 that month and currently sports a .918 OPS in July.  Now that Joe has both of these guys installed at the top of the order, setting the table isn't a problem.

The one man who can drive them in is Robinson Cano, who's put on another MVP-caliber performance in his big contract year.  Were it not for a down June, Cano could be right in the discussion with the Miggies and Chrises Davis of the world right now, but you know he had to have his 1 bad month.  Cano has been even more impressive in putting up his numbers considering he's had the rotting corpses of Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells "hitting" behind him since early May.  Those fine gentlemen now sport .317 and .282 wOBAs respectively this season and no longer seem up to the rigors of playing every day.  Despite their lack of support behind Robbie, he's still managed to rein in his free-swinging ways a bit and post a new career best 11.7% BB rate.

Lyle Overbay and his "still kinda just good enough to not complain wholeheartedly about" line of .252/.308/.437 with 11 HR holds down the 5th-6th spot in the order most of the time and that's really where the lineup's production goes to die.  New left fielder Zoilo Almonte has seen his numbers take a dip since his hot start, especially in the power department, and the bottom 2 spots in the order are usually a combination of Stewart, Romine, Nix, Nunez, Cruz, Gonzalez, Adams, or whoever was hanging out around the ballpark earlier in the day.  These guys are good for about 1 rally a week.  The rest of the time they're basically free outs for opposing pitchers.

There's no sugar coating how bad the Yankee lineup is day in and day out.  A .243/.307/.399 team batting line is as un-Yankee-like as we've seen in over 20 years.  They don't work counts anymore, they don't hit for power (at all from the right side), they have to over-rely on the sac bunt to generate scoring chances, and they rarely seem to come up with the big hit when they need it.  That's to be expected when you've had $100 mil on the DL all year and only made an effort to replace that with replacement-level guys.  Whether you want to lay the blame for that at the feet of Cash or ownership is irrelevant.  What matters is that this lineup isn't good enough to win and the time to wait for the cavalry to arrive is running out.  Robbie Cano has done it by himself for most of the year so far.  If the Yanks are going to sneak into the playoffs, he needs some help.

(Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today)