The Yankees are 2nd in the American League in runs scored. They are 1st in OBP, 2nd in Slg%, 1st in walks, 3rd in home runs, and hold the league’s best record. Generally, run scoring would not be a cause for concern. But I don’t think that I’ve been alone over the past month or so among Yankee fans in worrying about the Yankee offense. I ran the numbers and came up with this relatively disturbing graph:
This graph contains two elements. First, I took a 3-unit moving average of runs scored each game and charted it over 64 periods. Second, I drew an exponentially smoothed trend line to more clearly demonstrate the decline in scoring. The trend is disturbingly clear: the Yankees began the season looking like a league-leading, dominant offense, and have since scored runs in fits and starts, and look much more like a below average offense. Even worse: the moving average has stayed consistently low since about the beginning of May. We’ve seen sputters, but no consistent offensive recovery.
The culprits should be pretty clear. Mark Teixeira is hitting .224/.342/.399. Alex Rodriguez is hitting .282/.354/.466. Curtis Granderson is hitting .240/.324/.447. Derek Jeter is hitting .280/.334/.419. The Yankees have been playing one of Randy Winn, Ramiro Pena, or Kevin Russo every day for some time now. Despite strong performances from Brett Gardner, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher, and a career season from Robinson Cano, the Yank’s cast of characters just doesn’t look like a particularly strong offense.
I’m generally in favor of the radical solutions, so I’d like to propose pretty big lineup shift. If I were Joe Girardi, my healthy lineup tomorrow would look like this:
LF Brett Gardner
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada
2b Robinson Cano
3b Alex Rodriguez
1b Mark Teixeira
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
C Francisco Cervelli
Marcus Thames and Juan Miranda can platoon at DH once Thames is healthy and Posada looks good enough for the team to ditch Chad Moeller.
I understand that egos and lineup politics make this impossible, but the Yankees should still do it. The Boston Red Sox are charging hard, and the Tampa Bay Rays are right there with the Yankees. One team in this division will miss the playoffs, and there’s a very good chance that the unlucky team will miss it by a margin of one or two games. The Yankees owe it to themselves and their fans to field the best possible lineup, which means replacing slumping legacy players with the best hitters possible.
If Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira hit like their old selves, then they should be restored to their traditional spots in the lineup. However, after nearly three months they are still sputtering. Jeter and Rodriguez are aging players who may never recover, and it could be time to starting getting them used to a diminishing role on the team. Mark Teixeira may just be in the middle of a down year, but for now he’s taking up a valuable RBI spot without doing a whole lot to help the team.