The Anatomy of Losing 9 of 12

As of this writing, the Yankees are a bad team. Over the past two weeks, they are - by winning percentage - the third worst team in baseball. It's no secret, to be sure, but it still feels strange to put it in writing, and see the words staring back at me. The worst part of it may well be that the Yankees are bad at everything right now. How did we get here?

The Yankees are batting .223/.280/.327 in their last 12 games. That's a 69 wRC+, good for 28th in the Majors over that time. They're four points behind the 27th place Dodgers in that metric, so we can't spin it to say that they're bunched up with several other teams, either. The team's .104 ISO is 29th over that same time, ahead of only the lowly Braves. That mark is particularly egregious, as well, as six of those twelve games were in the Bronx, with the other six coming in hitter-friendly Fenway Park and Globe Life Park in Arlington. This may be due to the team's 27.8% hard-hit percentage, which ranks 26th in the league. And the once patient offense also ranks 26th in BB%.

During this time, Alex Rodriguez (172 wRC+), Starlin Castro (132), and Jacoby Ellsbury (121) have been quite good (if not great). The next-best hitter, however, is Austin Romine, with an 86 wRC+ in 10 PA. Then come Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner, both sporting a 64 wRC+. The team's fourth and fifth best hitter's have slashed a combined .206/.301/.269 in the last two weeks.

Add that all together, and the Yankees are dead last in runs over the last two weeks, with 32 - six behind the 29th place Braves. That's 2.4 R/G. And the pitching staff has been equally as offensive, pitching to a 5.31 ERA.

Masahiro Tanaka posted two strong starts in that span, and Nathan Eovaldi spun a gem. Despite this, the Yankees starters have a 5.08 ERA during this stretch, as CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino combined to allow 25 ER in 35.2 IP.

The justifiably hyped bullpen has been even worse, with a 5.73 ERA. Andrew Miller has been lights out in five appearances, and Kirby Yates and Nick Goody have performed well, too. The rest of the bullpen has allowed 22 ER in 24.2 IP - that's an 8.03 ERA. And, as Stacey recently pointed out, not even Dellin Betances has been immune to this stretch of horrors.

To be fair, the Yankees defense has almost certainly hindered the efforts of the pitching staff. The team ranks 26th in UZR/150 at this juncture, and 28th in Defense Runs Saved. Or, if you prefer non-advanced metrics on this side of the ball, the team has made 6 errors in the last twelve games - a number that does not include some notably poor routes taken by Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks. And this from a team that has largely prioritized defense over the last few years.

An obvious caveat applies here - it's only May 3rd. Twelve games represents just over 7% of the season, and the team has been bad in the early goings before. The staff's ERA is more than a run above its FIP, and nearly two runs ahead of its xFIP. Despite the hideous ERA, the pitchers are still 1st in the Majors in GB% during this stretch, 2nd in BB/9, and 12th in K/9. And the defense should rebound, given the reputations and histories of ... well ... everyone, save for Carlos Beltran.

There is reason for hope when the Yankees take the field.

The offense, however, remains incredibly disconcerting. This may well be a prolonged cold spell (it has been below-average for most of the season, after all) - but this is an older team, with only two regulars under the age of 32. I do not expect this group to continue to battle for a spot in the bottom third of all offenses, but its days as a top-tier team may be over.

Again, though, I am not panicking. And you shouldn't, either. If that time does come, it will be a few weeks from now, if not a couple of months. But the frustration is palpable at this point, and a glass half-empty approach is more than reasonable.

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Random Stats for the Night Off

In these early days of the season, it is difficult to offer in-depth analysis without putting a great deal of weight into small sample sizes. Strikeout rates are just about the only statistic that has begun to stabilize at this point, and even something as straightforward as velocity may not be wholly indicative of what's to come. And so this is not a post wherein I will strongly offer praise, nor will I condemn any performances; instead, I will attempt to let some numbers speak for themselves. There will be the good, the bad, and the ugly ... and at least a bit of funny. After all, these are the Yankees that we're talking about. Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .243/.296/.342 (75 wRC+) since September 1, 2014. Yes, that is a selective endpoint - but it also represents a stretch of 660 PA. In that time he has 10 HR and 28 SB (11 CS), with a 6.1 BB% and 16.5 K%. He has also cost the team about 5 runs on defense in that span, as per UZR.

Starlin Castro currently has the best BB% and ISO of his career, while also swinging at fewer pitches outside of the zone than ever before (29.4%, which is well-below his career average of 33.3%). And his .306 BABIP is about 15 points below his xBABIP, based upon his batted ball profile. He's only 26, folks.

Only Colby Rasmus is pulling the ball more often than Mark Teixeira (60.0% to 58.5%). The Yankees first baseman is also making 'soft' contact in 26.4% of balls in play; that's in the bottom 20 of all hitters. He's 13th in the Majors in BB%, though, and is still an above-average overall hitter, with a strong 121 wRC+.

There are currently 195 players that qualify for the batting title. Among those, Chase Headley ranks 190th in wRC+ (28), and dead last in ISO (.000). He's the only qualified player without an extra base hit.

Dellin Betances has more strikeouts (23) than Yordano Ventura (21), Matt Harvey (21), Gerrit Cole (19), Marcus Stroman (19), and Jordan Zimmermann (16). Only 52 pitchers have more strikeouts than Betances, all of which have thrown at least 20.1 IP. Betances has 10 IP thus far. He also leads all relievers in K%, K-BB%, and xFIP (-0.28; yes, that's a negative xFIP).

Luis Severino has the second largest gap between his ERA (6.86) and FIP (3.67) among all starting pitchers (David Price is first). He also has the second highest BABIP, at .417 (behind Chris Archer).

The Yankees bullpen ranks 1st in the Majors in K/9 (11.27) and xFIP (2.64). The unit ranks 4th in total strikeouts, with 81, despite sitting 19th in IP (64.2).

The Yankees rotation is in the top ten in K/9 (8.41), BB/9 (2.40), GB% (49.1), xFIP (3.52), SIERA (3.60), and K-BB% (15.4). It also ranks 25th in the Majors in ERA, with a 5.13 mark.

The Yankees offense ranks 25th in ISO (.131) - every team behind them is either the Braves, or plays in a pitcher's park. The team's .273 BABIP ranks 26th, as does its 26.9% hard-hit percentage.

The Yankees have stolen 17 bases - that's third in baseball. Only the Cubs, Padres, and Indians have added more value on the basepaths in 2016.

Most importantly: the Yankees have 142 games left in their season.

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Kneejerk Foment

[caption id="attachment_81089" align="aligncenter" width="525"]A-Rod K vs OAK When you strike out with the bases loaded during a brutal RISP slump. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] I fully realize that I am falling in Wallchand territory here but I can feel the angst and brine rising within me. You have been watching these games along with me, right? This version of the New York Yankees has been such a drag to watch. I know Stacey wasn't as impressed as I was, but Michael Kay's "Groundhog Day" line the other night just felt so right. Each game has bled into the next with the same ineptitude and similar losses. It is like going off Broadway and watching the same bad production for fourteen straight days.

My rational mind is shouting to my emotional Italian side chiding the latter with reminders of sample size and season length. In the immortal words of Frank Sinatra, my heart ain't gonna buy it. My inner Yankee is foaming at the mouth.

This is what my mind has watched thus far this season. I qualify this statement knowing full well that observations are faulty and I will look at some stats a little later:

  • It seems that every fat mistake pitch thrown by a Yankee pitcher gets hammered while the Yankees take such pitches for strikes when they are batting.
  • You can squeeze more appeal from our front-running presidential candidates easier than the Yankees can squeeze runs out of a potential rally.
  • I wish Aaron Hicks could hit so he could play the field every day.
  • How long do we wait out Alex Rodriguez before doing the Soriano-Jones?
  • The Yankees' offense is the easiest team to defense in the history of baseball.
  • Why does Mark Teixeira have to stink every April?
  • How many of you are like me and start to get afraid every time a Yankee starting pitcher starts a game with two or three scoreless innings?
  • I would take four errors a week from Rob Refsnyder over watching Chase Headley every night
  • Austin Romine is no John Ryan Murphy. But he is like a J.R. Murphy. Maybe he should insist on being called, "Austin Allen Romine."

Okay, somehow, I need to pull this rant out of the gutter of my mind and put some data in here to at least make it sound respectable. I know full well that this is a lost cause because any stats I cull will be cherry picking and a rant is what this is and there seems to be no turning back. But here goes a few cherry picks to at least make it look like I'm trying.

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Friday Morning News And Notes: 9/18/15

Final off-day of the regular season yesterday.  It's 17 in 17 from tonight on out and there's going to be some real juice to this weekend Subway Series.  Should be fun to watch. - The Yankees will send Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia to the hill this weekend, with Joe non-committal on pitching Tanaka on normal rest again next Wednesday against the Blue Jays.  Given the state of the rotation and the potential divisional effect of winning that series, it should be a no-brainer.

- Assistant GM Billy Eppler has started his interview rounds for open GM positions.  Via George King, he met with the Mariners in Chicago on Wednesday after talking to the Angels on Monday.  I don't see any way he comes out of this offseason without a GM job somewhere.  He's been real close the last few years.  Good for him.

- The 2015 MiL season officially came to an end for the Yankee organization on Tuesday night when SS Staten Island lost the Penn League Championship Series in 2 games.  Triple-A SWB and and Rookie League Pulaski were bounced in their first round of their respective postseason series.

- The highlight of the game, and really the last few weeks of the SS Staten Island season, was 2015 1st rounder James Kaprielian.  He tossed 6.1 shutout innings with 6 strikeouts in a ND cause, this coming after he threw 6 1-run innings with 4 strikeouts and no walks in the first round series.  He looks like he'll be ready for a full season next year.

- How's this for a "sample sizes be damned" stat: Greg Bird is 2nd in MLB in average batted ball velocity this season at 95.5 MPH.  First?  Giancarlo Stanton at 97.7.  That's courtesy of IIATMS alum Katie Sharp.

- Here's a less impressive one: Dellin Betances has faced 21 batters over his last 4 appearances.  Of those 21 batters, 15 of them did not put the ball in play (9 strikeouts, 6 walks).

- Remember that post I wrote a little while back about Dustin Ackley being the most important September call up?  It looks like it's finally happening.  Ackley has gotten pretty consistent playing time over the last week and change and he's been used all over the field: left field, first base, second base, and as a pinch hitter.  He's 6-17 in his last 8 games with 2 XBH, 2 R, and 3 RBI.  That'll get you more PT when your team is searching for some offensive consistency.

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The Yankee Offense Drives Me Insane

I know. You are tired of me writing about the Yankees' offense. I have railed all year about it and I don't blame you for being sick of it. It's just that misery loves company. If I have to watch this team hit every night and drive myself to distraction, then I might as well take someone with me. Frankly, I hate this offense. As thrilling a win as Monday night was with Slade Heathcott's three-run dinger to win it, the Yankees had just four hits. Last night they had five. Just a random couple of games? Hardly. The Yankees have had five or less hits in a game 29 times. That is tied for sixth most in the Majors. That is also 20% of their games or a fifth of them. Is that a lot? Well...the 2009 Yankees did that only fourteen times all season. Which is also how many times the Blue Jays have done it this season.

So what, exactly, drive me crazy? The approach to hitting drives me crazy. If you face a guy with a good change-up (which describes everyone on the Rays), then the best approach is to think away and then you are still back enough to hit the change up hard. It is my observation that the Yankees give away more outs that most teams and certainly less than their closest opponents. But is that an accurate observation?

I think the numbers back it up. Which team has the lowest BABIP in baseball? You guessed it. The New York Yankees at .284. BABIP is the batting average of balls in play. An average BABIP is considered around .300 and fluctuates a percentage point from year to year.

We have eye evidence that nearly every Yankee batter has a shift employed against him. And, gosh, that makes so much sense. Why? Because the Yankees easily have the highest pull percentage in baseball at 44.8%. At the same time, the team has the lowest opposite field percentage in baseball. Of course the teams are going to shift! Of course, the Yankees are going to keep doing what they are doing and the result is an offense that (outside of homers) drives me crazy.

The Yankees of 2015 also rank tied for seventh for the highest percentage of soft contact. The Yankees have only two batters in the top fifty players (with 300+ at bats) in hard contact percentage. Alex Rodriguez comes in at 37th and Mark Teixeira is 41st. The Yankees' oldest offensive player leads them.

The Yankees have three players in the top fifty with the lowest percentage of hard contact. Jacoby Ellsbury is 16th lowest and leads the team in that dubious statistic. He was supposed to be good, right? See Brad's post yesterday for more on that wayward notion.

Three of the Yankees' homers in the last two games have not been pulled. Heathcott's dramatic homer was to the opposite field. A-Rod's from last night was opposite field and Greg Bird's blast was to center. It's a beautiful thing. Take what the pitcher gives you. Hit it the other way. Make it harder to defense you. Why is this such a difficult concept?

I can see how it would be hard to have much leverage talking to a Mark Teixeira about his 55+% of pulled baseballs and Brian McCann about his 51.5%. But seriously? It's okay with you that Chris Young pulls the ball 60.5% when he makes contact!? A guy that close to the edge of having a job cannot be convinced to try something different?

Yes, this team can bop the homers. They do it more often than all except two teams. That's great. You cannot beat a homer for effectiveness. But what about the rest of the at bats? Wouldn't it be nice to have Ellsbury on base in front of A-Rod's homer? Wouldn't it be great if your two top guys in the lineup could get on base once in a while?

I can't help it, folks, and I apologize. This offense drives me batty. Except for the occasional homers, the team cannot string together hits, it has no desire to fight what the defenses are doing and they just keep thinking they can hit that slow stuff thrown on the outside corner by rolling over on it. It is infuriating. But, gosh, a playoff spot is still well within reach. So I should just shut up.

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Quick Hit: Jacoby Ellsbury Stinks

Were it not for Slade Heathcott's incredible timing, the big talking point from last night's 9th inning would have been Jacoby Ellsbury and his potentially back-breaking GIDP.  On the first pitch from Brad Boxberger after Dustin Ackley singled to start the inning, Ellsbury rolled a grounder over to the first baseman to start a double play and clear the bases.  After a night of precious few offensive chances, Ellsbury took what looked like the last good one the Yankees would get and flushed it. If you haven't been playing close enough attention, Ellsbury has been doing a lot of that lately.  He's slumping about as badly as anybody on the team has at any point this season, and it climaxed with that GIDP in the 9th.  Ellsbury wakes up this morning with a .254/.315/.354 batting line that is, quite simply, pathetic.  That .660 OPS is almost 30 points below Didi Gregorius' season line and a mere 3 ahead of everyone's favorite Twitter punching bag Stephen Drew.  Among the 30 players who qualify as center fielders on FanGraphs and have at least 400 plate appearances this season, Ellsbury's .293 wOBA and 83 wRC+ rank 23rd.

And it gets worse than that. Consider:

  • Ellsbury is 0-18 in his last 4 games.
  • He's 1-27 in his last 6 games.
  • He's hitting .104/.140/.104 in 50 PA this month.
  • He's hitting .208/.253/.314 in 171 PA since August 1st
  • He's hitting .210/.251/.328 in 258 PA since coming off the DL on July 8th

And he's just 4-7 in stolen base attempts and has a 4.7% BB rate in that same time.  There's nothing that he's doing well as a leadoff hitter and yet for some reason he's still hitting leadoff every day.  Remember that this is year 2 of a 7-year deal and Ellsbury just turned 32 last Friday.  This isn't a case of a guy clearly being over the physical hill like Carlos Beltran.  Ellsbury is still technically in his prime.  That's a scary thought when you imagine what the next 5 years could be like at this pace.

To be fair, perhaps Ellsbury is playing more hurt than he's letting on.  He did miss a significant chunk of time with a knee injury earlier in the season, and the poor production along with the lack of steal attempts suggests that the knee might not be 100%.  Still, there are other players playing hurt right now and they're finding ways to be productive.  If Ellsbury is healthy enough to be in the lineup every day, he's healthy enough to get held to the same standards and right now he isn't even coming close to meeting those standards.  He straight up stinks right now and he needs to start turning that around tonight.

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About Yesterday Afternoon: #TANAK

Tanaka vs BAL III The Yankees needed to win yesterday's game to avoid falling 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the division race and to avoid an embarrassingly awful four-game sweep at home. Luckily they had Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, and while he didn't last as long as he did in his last start against Toronto , he was just as great. Tanaka kept most of the power hitters off balance, and helped shut out the Blue Jays lineup for the first time since the All-Star Break.

In his last two starts against Toronto (16 innings pitched), Tanaka is 2-0. He has walked three batters, struck out 15, has held the potent Blue Jays lineup to a paltry .164 BA and he has not allowed a home run. That last one is important because that team likes the long ball and hits it often.

So how do you shut down a team with such a potent offense? You don't allow them to feast on fastballs. You pitch to your strength which is your splitter and Tanaka's splitter was on yesterday.

Here's the breakdown of all of his pitches courtesy of Brooks Baseball (as of late last night):

  • 12 four seamers: 93.3 mph (95.3 max), 9 strikes, 5 swings, 4 of them were a first pitches
  • 11 sinkers: 91.6 mph (93.2 max), 7 strikes, 4 swings, 2 of them were first pitches
  • 19 sliders: 83.6 mph (87.5 max), 11 strikes, 9 swings, 6 of them were first pitches
  • 11 curveballs: 78.2 mph (81.7 max), 7 strikes, 4 swings, 4 of them were first pitches
  • 11 cutters: 88.6 mpg (90.1 max), 9 strikes, 7 swings, 1 was a first pitch
  • 44 splitters: 88.1 mph (90.2 max), 33 strikes, 26 swings, 7 were first pitches

Here's the results breakdown (hits, foul balls, balls in play, etc.) courtesy of Baseball Savant:

chart (9)

Tanaka gave up four hits. Three of them were doubles that obviously didn't amount to anything because Toronto never scored. And all three doubles were hit by righty batters. He also gave up a single to lefty Josh Thole on an 89 mph splitter. That was the only splitter that didn't quite work for Tanaka yesterday.

Here's how that pitch looked most of the day:


Here's the splitter that didn't quite work:


According to Brooks Baseball (again as of late last night when this post was written), Tanaka threw the splitter 19 times to lefty batters - 15 of them were strikes (10 were strikes not in play) and he generated 13 swings. Five balls were in play and one, the Thole single, fell for a hit. He threw the splitter 28 times to righty batters - 20 of them were strikes (18 were strikes not in play) and he generated 13 swings.

Here's how Toronto's four hits looked in heat map form. The 1-1 at the low end of the zone is Thole's single and the 1-2 just below the 2-2 in red is Bautista's double:

trumedia_baseball_grid (27)

Here's a spray chart of all of the balls in play (outs in included): Masahiro Tanaka (4)

It was another ace-like performance from the staff ace when the team needed it.

Tanaka mentioned to Meredith Marakovits in his postgame interview on YES that he felt he had the right mindset going into the game. He told her that he said to himself he wasn't going to let Toronto sweep the Yankees. Maybe Tanaka should talk to the other members of the starting rotation and even some guys in the bullpen and help them with their confidence against Toronto.

Happy Monday!

[Heat maps courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info. Pie chart and spray chart courtesy of Baseball Savant. Other numbers courtesy of Brooks Baseball]

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Tanaka Is Still An Ace

[caption id="attachment_78237" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Tanaka vs BAL III Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] Before watching the sadness of what was a lousy offensive performance by the Yankees last night, I watched a little bit of Baseball Tonight on The MLB Network. Pedro Martinez and Dan Plesac were discussing the Matt Harvey situation. Plesac talked about every team having a "pecking order" with its starters and relief pitchers. The point made was that Harvey was #1 on the Mets' pecking order and they needed him. Masahiro Tanaka is still at the top of the Yankees' pecking order.

During this season, two other pitchers have been handed that spot by the fans and the media. Earlier in the season, Michael Pineda was dominant and he was the ace of the staff. In the second half of the season, that title went to Nathan Eovaldi (sigh). But all along--except for the seven starts he missed--Tanaka has been right there giving the Yankees a chance to win.

I will admit up front that I am going to "cherry pick" some numbers. I feel it is necessary because the current ways we have to rank pitchers are WAR and FIP. Both are skewed heavily by the three supposed outcomes a pitcher can control: homers, walks allowed and strikeouts. Tanaka's walks allowed, strikeouts and strikeout per walk ratios are all still in the elite category. But homers are another story. He has given up a ton of them. His 1.5 homers per nine rate (over 16% homer to fly ball ratio) is very high.

That one fact alone--and I am not dismissing its impact--drags Tanaka down, puts his FIP over four and knocks his WAR down a few pegs. Tanaka has a bit of a Phil Hughesian problem at Yankee Stadium III. On the road, Masahiro Tanaka has a 0.80 homer per nine rate. But at home, that rate jumps to 2.0 per nine. White giving up only six homers on the road, he has allowed fifteen at home.

All of his other stats both home and the road are nearly the same. But the homer rate pushes his ERA to over four at home and 3.26 on the road. And yet, here's the thing: He has won six of his twelve starts at home. Mike Mussina was once asked what defined a great pitcher and his answer was winning half of games started. That certainly works for Tanaka at home despite the homers.

But there are more numbers to (cherry) pick. The Yankees have won 66.6% of the games Tanaka has started this season (14 of 21). That is the exact same rate as Eovaldi and we all know about Eovaldi's run support. And that percentage makes sense since a full 71% of Masahiro Tanaka's starts have been quality starts. That is easily the best on the team*. Pineda is second at 50%.

*Luis Severino has a higher rate, but I cannot jump on that ship until he has 20+ starts instead of six.

Quality starts is not the most popular statistic around because you can have a 4.50 ERA and have a quality start. But it does give the team a chance to win by keeping things from getting out of hand. But perhaps I can give you a stat you'll like more.

Actually, I can give you several. Let's start with Game Score. Bill James and others came up with a way to rate a start with a 50 being average, below 50 as below average and above 50 as above average. The higher the number the better. Masahiro Tanaka's average Game Score is 57.4. Only Severino is higher among the starters. Pineda is at 52.3 and Eovaldi at 49.6.

Then there is WHIP, which is walks plus hits per innings pitched. Tanaka's WHIP is 1.015. Would you guess that rate is better than Chris Sale's? It's also better than Corey Kluber, Matt Harvey, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Archer and David Price. The next Yankee starter closest to Tanaka is Pineda at 1.230. A lot of Tanaka's success there is due to a hits per nine rate of only 7.4 per nine. Add that to his low walk rate and it's easy to see why.

Lastly, there needs to be a discussion of bullpen saving. One of the stories that goes a little under the radar is that the Yankees' bullpen gets pretty dicey before the eighth and ninth inning. The more those sixth and seven inning pitchers are exposed, the harder it is on the team. The deeper a starter can go, then, the better. Tanaka leads Yankee starters with 6.48 innings pitched per start. Pineda is at 6..09 and Eovaldi at 5.71.

With the instant stats and news during the season, it is easy to get wrapped up in what is happening lately. I have always felt that you cannot take a part of the season to sweeten the entire season. Stephen Drew might have been better this past month, but his SEASON has not been pretty at the plate. Eovaldi and Pineda have carried the team in flashes of brilliance that lasted a month or more. But if you look at the season as a whole, Masahiro Tanaka has been the consistent presence the Yankees have needed. All things considered health-wise, he is still the guy I give the ball to in Game One of a playoff series or wild card winner take all.

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Checking in on Didi Gregorius

Back on July 15, I wrote about the slow and steady progression of Didi Gregorius so I thought in light of last night's performance and his performance against the Braves this past weekend, we could take a look at how he has been doing since the All-Star break. In 147 at bats (42 games), Gregorius is hitting .327/.365/.435/.800. He's batting .233/.273/.315/.588 at home and batting .419/.451/.554/1.005 away from Yankee Stadium.

Here's his overall spray chart since the All-Star break: export (67)

And here's the heat map: trumedia_baseball_grid (25)

Some numbers:

  • Gregorius has gotten three singles off the cutter - two off David Price - and he's batting .375/.375/.375/.750.
  • He's gotten one single off the splitter. .286/.286/.286/.571
  • He has trouble with the changeup, batting .111/.190/.167/.357, but he hit a double in Saturday's game against the Braves.
  • He's hit five singles and a double off the slider and he's batting .259/.259/.296/.556.
  • In six at bats against the knuckleball, he has three singles - two off R.A. Dickey and one off Steven Wright. (.500/.500/.500/1.000)
  • In 67 at bats against the fastball, Gregorius is batting .403/.461/.567/1.028

Since he's having so much success against the fastball, let's take a closer look at that.

trumedia_baseball_grid (26)

As you can see in this heat graph, Gregorius likes the upper part of the strike zone. And while looking at the individual at bat results, I noticed that the majority of his hits on fastballs come within three pitches. There's an occasional four-pitch at bat but most of the hits are occurring on pitches 2 and 3.

Breaking it down further, Gregorius is batting .435/.491/.565/1.056 in 46 at bats against fastballs that fall between 90 and 95 m.p.h. In 12 at bats against fastballs 95 m.p.h and up, he's batting .167/.167/.167/.333.

Narrowing it down again, Gregorius is batting .380/.432/.519/.951 in 79 pitches that are considered hard - fastball, sinker, cutter.

export (68)

More numbers:

  • With the bases empty he's batting .333/.371/.381/.752/.
  • With men on .317/.357/.508/.865.
  • With a runner on .256/.319/.419/.738.
  • With two on .333/.353/.533/.886.
  • With the bases loaded but in only 8 at bats he's batting .800/.667/1.200/1.867.
  • With runners in scoring position .364/.395/.545/.940.

So what does this all mean? It means that the people who were pooing pooing the move probably feel pretty silly right now. Gregorius is a solid player (.269/.318/.364/.682) who has improved as the season has gone on and he's becoming fun to watch.

[Numbers and images courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info]

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Thursday Morning News And Notes (And Bad Offensive Numbers): 8/27/15

This was supposed to be a post about how bad the Yankee offense has been over the last few weeks and me finally giving in and accepting that they've regressed and are really this bad now.  But I knew the minute I stepped into the shower this morning that I wasn't emotionally ready to do that, so instead we're going to recap some of the smaller stories from the last 2 days and I'll mix in some bad offensive stats to at least acknowledge that reality.  Fair? - The official diagnosis is in on CC Sabathia's right knee and it's about as positive as it could have been.  There is no new damage in the knee, no tears or anything like that.  It's simply the continuation of the degenerative condition that's existed there for a while and there's nothing that will require surgery.  That leaves the possibility open for Sabathia to return this season, and he did say he would be open to working out of the bullpen if/when he came back.  For now, let's see how a few weeks off helps the knee before worrying about that.

- Dustin Ackley has been slowly working himself back into game shape after hitting the DL with a lumbar strain earlier this month.  He's supposed to start his MiL rehab assignment tonight in Trenton and I would bet he'll get a couple games through the weekend and then be activated when rosters expand next Tuesday.

- The Yankee have scored 3 or fewer runs in 7 of their last 11 games going back to the end of the last Toronto series.

- Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira were back out of the lineup last night with their respective leg issues.  Joe said he didn't expect them to be available tomorrow night after today's off-day, so the Yanks could be playing with the really short bench again.

- Nick Goody was sent down after yesterday's game, so there is a spot to add a bat to the bench if the Yanks want to.  But according to Jack Curry, that move was to open up a sport for Bryan Mitchell to be activated off the DL on Friday.  He threw a 30-pitch bullpen session the other day with no issues.  It's great that he was able to recover so quickly.

- In the week since his big 2-homer game against the Twins, Greg Bird is 3-25 with 0 XBH, 2 BB, and 9 K.  That's a huge drop-off from Teix's usual production.

- Yes, Chris Capuano was DFA'd again yesterday after his lights out performance on Tuesday night.

- Via Dave Rosengrant, Gary Sanchez left last night's SWB game early after apparently injuring his right leg trying to beat out a double play ball.  The timing of this is bad if it turns out to be something serious.  Sanchez was likely to get called up as the third catcher in September.

- Since hitting his last home run a week ago, Alex Rodriguez is 1-16 with 6 K and 1 intentional BB.

- Didi's home run last night was his first in almost exactly a month.  Last one came on July 27th against the Rangers.  I remember those times.  Good times they were for the offense.

- Brett Gardner is down to .193/.302/.241 in August with a 25.8% K rate.

- The Yankees are 6-44 with RISP as a team over the last 7 games, including 0-14 in the last 3.  As generally bad as they've been, their problems have been magnified by their inability to get hits when they really need them.  Save for the last few games, it's not like they've been devoid of baserunners and run-scoring opportunities.

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