Through 50 games, the Yankees season has been sort of Jekyll and Hyde. One night they can score 10 runs and pitch well. The next game, they’ll score two and give up eight. The lineup has been feast or famine. We all know the Yankees’ struggles with RISP; they’ve been well documented throughout the season. If they’re not hitting with men on base, how are they scoring, and most importantly winning?
The home run.
Try to comprehend these numbers. As usual, the Yankees are at the top of the MLB in home runs, ranked number one with 76 round-trippers, tied with Texas. New York is 27-12 when hitting a home run in a game, and a shocking 0-11 when they DON’T go yard.
They are a remarkable 24-6 when scoring four or more runs. Oh, by the way, they’ve hit a home run each of those 30 games. Imagine what this team’s record would be if they hit in the clutch with men in scoring position? Scary.
Teams who want to go far in October can’t rely on the home run. In the postseason, teams face the best pitching in the most tense situations. The old adage is that good pitching will always beat good hitting. Home runs are rare in the playoffs, therefore, there is a premium put on situational hitting – something the Yanks have clearly struggled with.
Another aspect of the Yankees offense that has been puzzling is their hitting with the bases loaded. Last year, you could almost guarantee a big hit from anyone in the lineup. This year has been a struggle. A bases loaded situation clearly favors the hitter, as the pitcher has no room for error. With the Yankees circular lineup, not scoring with less than two outs and the bases loaded should be considered inexcusable. Take for example Robinson Cano.
Last year with the bases loaded, Cano hit a gaudy .444 (8 for 18) with three grand slams, 27 RBI and only three strikeouts. This year he is hitting .100 (1 for 10) with six RBI and four K’s. That one hit was a grand slam against Kansas City. Derek Jeter isn’t hitting with the bases loaded either. He’s 1 for 7. Arod is 1 for 9. Granderson is 2 for 8 (just hit a grand slam against Detroit). That grand slam snapped the Yankees hitless streak with the bases loaded at 0-16. The Yankees 1,2,3 hitters are a combined 4 for 24 when the ducks are on the pond.
Last year overall, the Yankees were third in batting average with bases loaded at .337. They were far and away first in hits (55) home runs (10) and RBI (142). This year they’re third from the bottom in average at .164 (9 for 55).
So as you continue to watch Yankee games this year, a good barometer to see if they’ll win that day’s game is if they hit a home run. Both trends need to even out. They need to not rely so much on the home run, and they need to hit better when they have chances to cash in with bases loaded.