Yankees Playing Tight a Season-Long Problem
By Dave Martin On October 16, 2012 @ 12:14 am In Baseball | No Comments
The Yankees are playing tight.
After scoring just 20 runs total in their seven postseason games (of which three went 12 or more innings) and hitting just .205 during that time, that much is obvious.
On the surface, it’s a surprise. The team scored 804 runs in the regular season (second only to Texas’ 808) and set a franchise record with 245 home runs on the season. Given that the franchise is the Yankees, who’ve won 27 World Series and boasts legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio, that says a lot.
What is the reason for this? Many have theorized that because the Yankees are the Yankees they get the best effort from the opposition. This seems to make sense at first glance although that didn’t seem to matter during the regular season when they won 95 games or in previous postseasons as the Yankees were World Series champions as late as 2009.
A closer glance at their hitting woes reveals just four regulars have hit better than .200 this postseason, if you include Raul Ibanez who is more of a platoon player: Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Ichiro Suzuki, and Ibanez. With Jeter lost for the season that number shrinks to three.
The ones under .200 are struggling are really struggling too.
Among the coldest are Alex Rodriguez who is now a well-documented 3-for-23 (.130) with zero extra-base hits and then Curtis Granderson who is 3-for-26 (.115) with one extra-base bomb. Even more amazing, both have struck out in over half of their at-bats with A-Rod fanning 12 times and Granderson going down a whopping 14 times on strikes.
Meanwhile, Nick Swisher is just 4-for-26 (.154) but with fewer strikeouts (8) than the two aforementioned players, while Russell Martin is 5-for-26 (.192) but only has 4 strikeouts. In addition, Eric Chavez has no hits in his 11 at-bats while going down on strikes 6 times.
The most puzzling is Robinson Cano though. After hits in each of the first two games, the Yankees second baseman has gone hitless in a single postseason record 26 straight at-bats and is now 2-for-32—good for a playoff average of .063. This is the same Cano that had nine straight multi-hit games to end the regular season and is generally regarded as one of the ten best hitters in the game.
What is to be made of all these hitting problems?
“Any time you have 162 games, to win 95 to 100, one game you can shake it off and you can go get it the next day,” said Teixeira Monday, according to a conference call release by the Yankees. “But in the postseason you have five or seven games, everything is magnified.”
Here’s what is magnified from their regular season: despite being a great hitting team the Yankees struggled at the plate when the pressure was on—a sign of tightness. The team hit .228 with two outs and runners in scoring position during the regular season—only four AL teams were worse.If there is any possible good news heading into Game 3, with the team down zero games to two, it’s that the Yankees may actually be the underdogs in this one facing reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander. If it’s any further consolation, the Yankees actually won two of the three games Verlander started against them in the regular season. If everything is magnified in the postseason, the Yankees could be in for a big win.
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