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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.

11 Responses to “Yankee Run Scoring Sputtering, Lineup Changes Needed?”

  1. You might as well have a unicorn leading off and Bigfoot batting cleanup. The Yanks are unlikely to move one of Jeter, A-Rod, or Tex out of their line-up spot this year, much less all three. We have to hope that these guys start hitting the way they should.  (Quote)

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  2. I’d switch Posada with Cano… Jeter should bat 1st against lefties, but not against Santana and his change.  (Quote)

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  3. The Yankees should not do so. I am big into stats. But players are not robots. Making radical changes like that would cause panic. That is exactly the wrong message to send.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Its panic if the switch happens in the middle of an ALDS. Its not panic if a bunch of slumping players are moved down in the lineup. The Red Sox have been very willing to move their lineup around in recent years (see David Ortiz), and the Yankees should show the same flexibility. Space the moves out over a few days if you have to.

    Old players decline, and lose their prime batting spots. This shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. Maybe a punch in the gut will get them moving.  (Quote)

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    DaveinMD Reply:

    If you think a still young Teixeira is out of his prime, fine. I don’t. I wouldn’t panic. I’d trust that guys like him and A-Rod would work out of it. The only change I’d consider is moving Gardner up towards the top the lineup.  (Quote)

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  4. Joe Torre used the #2 hole to jump-start slumping batters… Bernie was often put there to get him going.

    I think Tex should get a shot there, move Swish 5th with ARod third and Cano clean-up.  (Quote)

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  5. It is interesting that management is willing to spend $200 million on players and then is afraid to move them around in the order. Who is running the team? Girardi or the big names? Man up, Joe.

    Three months is not a small sample size. If you took the names off the stats, and gave the numbers to any manager at any level of baseball and told him to put together a batting order, there isn’t a chance in hell that he would line ‘em up the way the Yankees currently line up. A leadoff hitter with an OBP of .334? A 3-hole guy hitting .220? A clean-up hitter with 8 home runs? Are we serious? (Apparently not.)

    It is insanity not to have Gardner hitting leadoff with an OBP of .395 and his speed. Even if Gardner and Jeter were getting on base at the same rate, who would you rather have standing on first? I’ll bet I know who the opposing pitchers would rather see standing there. They probably go to the ballpark every day praying that Girardi hasn’t woken up and put Gardner in the leadoff spot.

    The best part of this is that if Jeter keeps hitting like this, maybe the Yankees won’t give him a four-year, $80-million contract at the end of the year. I have admired Jeter as much as the next person over the last 15 years but if they give him $80 million, at age 36, that’s $80 million that could have gone to someone named (for example) Crawford, that could help the team a lot more. And if Jeter takes it, he has to know that he is hamstringing the team. If he is as unselfish and dedicated to winning as everybody says, he would take a contract more in line with what he can currently contribute to the team, not based on what he contributed ten years ago. Of course that’s a pretty big house he’s building down there in Florida….  (Quote)

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  6. EJ, that chart would mean more to me if it was compared to league average for this year, and the same period (or full season chart) from last year. We all know run scoring has been way down across Baseball this season, and maybe as teams shed some of their roster from Spring training and make replacements this is the normal course of events over a long season. Maybe a 1.5 Run trend line is perfectly normal over the course of a season. Schedule, of course, could be a huge factor there. Not sure you can look at that chart in isolation and draw broad conclusions.  (Quote)

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  7. lower highs and lower lows…SELL SELL SELL!  (Quote)

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  8. I was wanting Teix to be moved since mid-May over at RLYW. Amazing that the team is in 1st place and amongst the top teams in runs scored with sub par Jeter, Teix and Alex.

    Only 8 more years of Alex to go! Wonder why he lost that weight?  (Quote)

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