Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Patience is not a virtue for the 2008 Yankees

Obviously, a lot of the Yankees offensive woes can be attributed to losing Alex Rodriguez (2007 MLB VORP leader with a ridiculous 96.6) and Jorge Posada (8th in MLB in VORP in 2007 with a 73.4 ) for weeks, and not just days.

In some rare spare time today at work, I have decided to look at the team as a whole to figure out what is different offensively this season from years past. Immediately, a disturbing statistic popped out - the Yankees are currently 23rd in Major League Baseball in walks. Ever since the early 90's the Yankees have been the gold standard in patient ball clubs and have always been among the team leaders in walks taken. For example:

* 2007 - 4th in MLB in walks
*2006 - 3rd in MLB in walks
*2005 - 3rd in MLB in walks
*2004 - 2nd in MLB in walks

Yes, the 23rd rank is likely skewed by the fact that two of the Yankees more patient hitters have been on the shelf for an extended period of time. Yes, A-Rod was 13th in MLB in walks in 2007 and Jorge Posada was 35th. However, Jason Giambi, notoriously one of the most patient hitters in baseball was injured most of last year, and he currently leads this year's team with 22 walks.

So, what has led to this decrease in walks? Lets take a look at some of the key culprits, outside of the injured A-Rod and Jorge. Derek Jeter (only 6 BBs so far) is being far less patient - perhaps trying to make up for the absence of A-Rod and Jorge? Abreu's walk rate has continued its steady decline that started in 2007. Strangely enough, Robinson Cano who has been flailing wildly at pitches all season long and who doubled his career average in walks last year, is not a main culprit. He has "already" walked 9 times this season.

Has the Yankee approach to hitting changed this year? Are they swinging earlier in counts, "being more aggressive"? Are the 2008 Yankees seeing less pitches per plate appearance than they were in the past two decades? I am sure that this kind of study is right up thehardballtimes' alley. I'm hoping someone over there will catch wind of this post and go the extra mile that I'm just not capable of going (I only have so much free time while "on the clock").

It is interesting to note, that Joe Girardi has said early and often that he wants the team to be more aggressive. Unfortunately for Joe G. this aggression has not shown up on the base-paths where the Yankees are 28th out of 30 MLB teams with only 12 steals, and a terrible 10 caught stealing in only 22 attempts. Are they taking out their aggression in the batters box to please their manager since they can't cut it on the bases?

There are a lot more questions here than answers, but some interesting points regardless. I am a Joe Girardi supporter through and through, but this lack of patience has to be a bit unsettling for Yankee followers everywhere. Lets just hope that all of this writing was for nothing and the Yankees start earning walks - and in turn start scoring runs - when Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are back in the fold.

Talk about it in the NYYSI Forums!
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