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Because when you've lost seven straight and 10 of 11, nothing helps you right the ship like a trip to New Yankee Stadium.


The Yankees' offense has been a bit lackluster itself recently - 18 runs over the last six games, against the White Sox and Cleveland. Of course, those were road games, and there's no particular shame in scoring three runs a game away from the Yankees' rather intimate home park, but the friendly media natives will take any excuse they can find to get restless.

New York made a trade today to add 29-year-old righty-hitting outfielder Steve Pearce from the Astros. Pearce has an excellent offensive track record over the past five years in AAA, including a few months with the Yankees' AAA team earlier this year, and he's seen time in the majors with Baltimore and Houston already in 2012. He's a career .277/.347/.484 hitter against lefty pitching. (The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees play in neither Scranton nor Wilkes-Barre but the borough of Moosic, Pennsylvania. The more you know...)

The Yankees will run out David Phelps, Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia. They'll be opposed by Alvarez, Romero and Happ. Phelps, tonight's starter, is a righty from Notre Dame who's making a strong case for a permanent spot in the Yankees' rotation. He has been very effective as a low-leverage reliever, and he's done fine as a starter, holding hitters to a .253/.333/.404 line and a 2.92 ERA over 24.2 innings.

Their bullpen is a bit disheveled at the moment, as Rafael Soriano took a Jason Kipnis liner off his hand yesterday in recording out a four-out save (consider him day-to-day), and setup man David Robertson's wife has been expecting for some time. The other relievers are the usual suspects (Logan, Rapada, Eppley), the returning Joba Chamberlain, and sinker specialist/long man Derek Lowe.

Yankees are a -185 favorite. First pitch is at 7:05.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
scottt - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 07:07 AM EDT (#262730) #
Just what the doctor ordered.
Gerry - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 08:55 AM EDT (#262734) #
From bad to good to bad to good again. Good running by Mike McCoy.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 09:16 AM EDT (#262736) #
I didn't worry after the Jeter homer.  Janssen went right after him, as he should, and gave up a Yankee Stadium home run the opposite way. 

There are few more satisfying moments in a baseball game than a 3 run homer,  down 2 runs with two outs in the ninth.  I was watching live music at the time, but did steal over a glance and managed to stifle a whoop.

Hodgie - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#262741) #
Unfortunately Jeter's home run wasn't shocking and it had nothing to do with Janssen who has been outstanding. It has certainly felt all year that the Jays have been extremely unlucky with the long ball and Fangraphs confirmed it for me this morning. Toronto pitchers sport a league worst 14.5 HR/FB%. The only other team above 14%? The Rockies. Not the best of company to keep.
Hodgie - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#262743) #
Can't say that I am all that enamoured of new Yankee Stadium. 3 of the 7 home runs sure looked like Yankee Stadium specials and how often does a game see 7 home runs and 0 extra base hits of the double or triple variety? I can't imagine that Governor Cuomo would be all that impressed either that to succeed in Yankee Stadium one needs to go to the right.
greenfrog - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 07:56 PM EDT (#262758) #
I seem to ponder this every year, and maybe it's just that some of the Jays hitters simply aren't that good, but I do not understand how it can be acceptable for so many experienced regulars to have such poor OBPs. For example:

Davis: 309
Rasmus: 296
Lind: 299
Escobar: 292
Arencibia: 279

I mean, those are shockingly, absurdly bad percentages - especially for players with some speed, like Davis and Rasmus. Obviously, EE has it all figured out this year (384 OBP), and Bautista gets on base at a healthy clip, but there is virtually nothing but wreckage apart from those two (with the possible exception of Lawrie: 326 OBP).

I believe this team is going nowhere fast in 2013 if it trots out five (five!) regulars whose collective OBP is 295. Think about it: the Jays' team OBP over the last three seasons is 312, 317, 309.

Compare the Yankees regulars in 2012 under hitting coach Kevin Long:

Cano: 375
Jeter: 364
Swisher: 358
A-Rod: 358
Teixeira: 335
Granderson: 329
Ibanez: 304
Martin: 301

And that's without Gardner (career OBP: 355). The Yankees OBP over the last three years: 350, 343, 335. Oh, and did I mention that NY has the best slugging percentage and the most home runs in the league?

To me, the Jays' lazy, hacking, undisciplined approach (which, moreover, some players seem to take pride in) is a major shortcoming that has gone on far too long and needs to be addressed. IMO it is an indictment of both the coaching staff and the front office.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#262761) #
I believe this team is going nowhere fast in 2013 if it trots out five (five!) regulars whose collective OBP is 295.

Tampa seems to manage it all right:
BJ Upton: 300
Jennings: 313
Sean Rodriguez: 278
Elliot Johnson: 313
Jose Molina: 274
Luke Scott: 280

Toronto's 11th in the league in OBP. The 9th, 10th, 12th, and 13th place teams are all in the running for playoff spots.
BlueJayWay - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#262762) #
To me, the Jays' lazy, hacking, undisciplined approach (which, moreover, some players seem to take pride in) is a major shortcoming that has gone on far too long and needs to be addressed. IMO it is an indictment of both the coaching staff and the front office.

Yep.  Been saying this for years.  OBP remains a problem.  I don't know if we lay it all at the feet of Murphy but he preaches that hacky approach. 
Thomas - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#262764) #
Toronto's 11th in the league in OBP. The 9th, 10th, 12th, and 13th place teams are all in the running for playoff spots

That approach works much better with any semblance of pitching depth.

greenfrog - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#262765) #
Tampa seems to manage it all right

First of all, TB has actually posted mostly decent OBP's since the team became good:

2008: 340
2009: 343
2010: 333
2011: 322
2012: 315

More important, here are the runs allowed totals by the Rays over that stretch:

2008: 671
2009: 754
2010: 649
2011: 614
2012 (to date): 469

Here are the Jays' RAs over the same time period:

2008: 610
2009: 771
2010: 728
2011: 761
2012 (to date): 617

In summary: the Rays' OBP has actually been pretty respectable, apart from this year; the Rays' pitching and defence has been mostly very good over the last five years; the Jays' pitching and defence (apart from a stellar showing in 2008) has been mostly mediocre.
greenfrog - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 09:39 PM EDT (#262766) #
Note also that as the Rays' OBP has declined over the last three years, their pitching and/or defence has gotten progressively better to compensate.
greenfrog - Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#262767) #
Here's another way to look at it:

Since 1993 (when the Jays posted a 350 team OBP), the team has had a team OBP of 340 or above exactly *five* times - in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2006. The highest team OBP during that stretch? .352 (in 1999).

Over the same time period, the Yankees have had a team OBP of 340 or above *seventeen* times. They have exceeded the Jays' *best* OBP (352) no less than *fourteen* times over that stretch.

The Red Sox? They've posted an OBP over 340 *fifteen* times over that stretch. They exceeded the Jays' *best* OBP a total of *seven* times.

If you don't think this is a problem, all I can say is, good luck with that.
greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 09:12 AM EDT (#262775) #
Also (lastly!), Tampa has great pitching but probably wishes it had a bit more offense. They are currently third in the wild card race, with Detroit right behind them. So yes, they're "managing" but really should be leading the wild card race or ensconced in first place in the AL East.
Magpie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#262798) #
Toronto's 11th in the league in OBP.

They're 7th in runs scored, which is what actually matters. Obviously, having a good OBP is not the end in itself; it's one of the means to the end. But the team's offensive problem is not that they've become hack-happy and won't take a walk. The Jays hitters are fourth in the AL in walks drawn. The reason the team's OBP is what it is? They're not hitting.

As it happens, Dwayne Murphy was a guy who had pretty good power, drew a lot of walks, and hit for a crummy BAVG. Which I think is mostly coincidental. But there you go.
Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#262802) #
Thank you Magpie, I was about to mention just this fact. It is not a one year anomaly either, last season they were 6th in runs scored and this year's team was even better before being forced to field the Las Vegas 51's for a long stretch. Funny how the actual results seem to get lost in the aesthetics of how those results were achieved.
greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 01:14 PM EDT (#262804) #
First, here is the Jays' recent AL ranking in terms of runs scored (per BRef):

2012: 7th
2011: 5th
2010: 6th
2009: 6th
2008: 11th

And that's with 50% of the team's games in a ballpark that is favourable to scoring. In any case, I don't see how consistently ranking 5th - 7th (or below) in the league in scoring is an indication of strong offensive performance.

Second, the Jays are not fourth in the league in walks in 2012 - they're ninth. Here is the Jays' ranking in BB taken over the same period:

2012: 9th
2011: 4th
2010: 9th
2009: 6th
2008: 11th

Notice any correlations between the above two tables? Here's an article that might help out:

http://sportsstatsanalysis.com/2009/06/10/whats-more-important-obp-slugging-or-ops/

A team that raises its OBP from .300 to .400 is expected to increase itís runs scoring from 3.7 runs/game to 6.7. The equivalent increase in slugging would be about 131 points, on average. An increase in slugging from .358 to .489 predicts a scoring increase from 3.7 to 5.8 runs/game, an obvious downgrade from the OBP surge. However, if a team increases its OBP purely by walking more, then the 100 point increase in OBP will likely only increase run scoring from 3.7 to less than 5 runs/game. What a GM can take from this is that, while increases in OBP seem to lead to more run scoring than equivalent increases in slugging percentage, this is only the case when these increases come with a mix of walks and hits.

Why wouldn't you want more of something that so clearly leads to more runs?
Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 01:52 PM EDT (#262805) #
"I don't see how consistently ranking 5th - 7th (or below) in the league in scoring is an indication of strong offensive performance."

I don't know, since the current criticism in these parts seems to be aimed at Farrell and his inability to coax a higher OBP out of this lineup I don't see what the years prior to 2011 have to do with the discussion. That said, in 2011 5th in the AL was good for 6th in MLB - I would call that elite. This season, the team was in the top 3 in MLB for the majority of the season and only fell from those ranks once the Las Vegas 51's starting lineup began to receive MLB playing time.

greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 02:18 PM EDT (#262807) #
This thread has been focused on OBP, walks, and runs scored (and the relationship among them), not Farrell's managing.

Looking at multiple years allows this correlation to become clearer and provides a more evidence-based analysis. The point (as noted in the above excerpt) is that more walks and more hits lead to more runs. It's not an aesthetic issue; if anything, they're related, in that better plate discipline leads to more of both. (I would actually argue that the aesthetic issue runs the other way, with lots of fans and commentators preferring the "let it rip" philosophy - walks are decidedly unsexy.)

Ranking 5th - 7th in the AL when you play in a hitter's ballpark is nothing to write home about (you also have to pitch in that ballpark). It might get the Jays a bit further along now that a second wild card has been added, but it isn't a surefire recipe for success - the Jays play in the AL East; where they rank among NL teams doesn't matter.

As for the 2012 season, the Jays had a remarkable run of health early on, while the competition dealt with a lot of injuries (Gardner, A-Rod, Longoria, Upton, Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, etc). It doesn't mean a lot to say that the offense could be top-3 or top-5 material as long as no one gets injured.
Original Ryan - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 02:45 PM EDT (#262808) #
That said, in 2011 5th in the AL was good for 6th in MLB - I would call that elite.

There were a bunch of N.L. teams behind the Blue Jays by less than 0.2 runs/game. If those teams had played 153 of their 162 games a year with the DH, the Blue Jays probably would've dropped to somewhere between 10th and 12th in the majors. 6th place was nothing special.

Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#262812) #
Looking at a greater span of years also ignores dynamic factors like the correlation between run environment and OBP, where too often the assumption seems to be that run expectancy values remain static which of course they do not. It has been shown the correlation between runs and OBP is less in lower run scoring environments and that as the run environment deteriorates, the importance of power increases. As it just so happens, 2011 and 2012 represent the worst run scoring environments in 20 years. Am I arguing against OBP? Of course not. But in a run environment like today, an argument can certainly be made that elite power and base running can be successful. Ideally you have all 3 but without a $200M payroll and the Ballpark at Arlington as your home that probably isn't feasible.

As for the injuries they are absolutely relevant. New York and Boston (although including Crawford was cute) were fortunate to have enough depth and unexpected performances to compensate for their injuries while Tampa (17th in runs scored) and Toronto have not.

Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#262814) #
I'll concede that I should probably limit my direct comparisons to the the AL, in which case the Jays have simply been an above average offence from 2009 on and not elite.
greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#262816) #
Above-average, or roughly average, once you take ballpark effects into account?

Even if the team proves to be modestly above-average, why not shoot for elite?
China fan - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#262817) #
It's a small sample size, but Hechavarria is hitting .303 over his past 11 games in the majors.

Unfortunately he has zero walks in that span, so his OBP isn't any better than his batting average.
vw_fan17 - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#262822) #
Dang, hit ctrl-w on the wrong window. Had a long response typed out.

Summary: is it fair to compare anyone to Jeter/Arod/Cano on offense alone? All 3 are HOF locks, probably inner HOF. But, if you add in defense (using oWar/dWar from BBRef), I see:
Arod: 1.8/-0.3 = 1.5
Lawrie: 1.8/2.1 = 3.7

Jeter: 3.7/-1.0 = 2.7
Escobar: 0.4/2.3 = 2.7

Look at that - our SS/3B has way better overall WAR, for $5.xM instead of $40+M. Even with their way superior OBP.

Cano - I got nothing, he's a great player, and Johnson's average at best. But, we have JBau >> Swisher, EE > Teixeira.

Martin: worst OBP of his career, 50 pts below his career average. AL East effect? Batting coach not working for him?
Martin: 1.1/0.2 = 1.3
JPA: 1.2/0.9 = 2.1

Granderson: 3.0/-0.7 = 2.3
Rasmus: 1.2/0.6 = 1.8
Granderson > Rasmus, yes. But not by a ton. JPA + Rasmus > Martin + Granderson

Ibanez: 0.5/-1.1 = -0.4
Davis: 0.1/0 = 0.1

So, using both offense AND defense, the only wins the Yankees have for "player value" are Cano and Granderson. We have Bautista and EE (I didn't look at the numbers for them vs. Teixeira/Swisher).

Sure, the Yankees have OBP in spades. Team defense? Not so much.
I know War is only ONE metric. However, it would suggest that if you swapped:
Lawrie for ARod
Davis for Ibanez
JPA for Martin

the Yankees would be a better team, despite worse OBPs.

Escobar for Jeter would be a wash.
Similarly,
Bautista and EE for Swisher and Texeira would be a win for the Yankees.

The only players the Yanks have that are more valuable than their Jays' counterpart this year are Cano and Granderson. That's it.

I realize only 8 players were mentioned - the Jays are lacking a strong 9th candidate.

However, IMHO, the big difference has been pitching (or lack thereof), and the fact that the Jays aren't able to play Lawrie, JPA, JBats or Cooper right now.

Perhaps this shows (as some have speculated) that defense is the new market inefficiency, and it's cheaper to aquire 1 dWar than 1 oWar right now?
Magpie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#262826) #
Second, the Jays are not fourth in the league in walks in 2012 - they're ninth.

Indeed they are. D'OH! (I'm now trying to figure out just which of the BB-Ref offensive columns I really clicked on - they were fourth in the league in something. Unless I dreamed the whole thing.)

I do believe that much of my point stands. The problem with the OBP of guys like Escobar, Johnson, Rasmus, Lind isn't that they haven't been walking. It's that they haven't been hitting. I think there is a tendency to see OBP and think "walks." But the biggest chunk of OBP is, and always will be, BAVG.
Magpie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#262828) #
I must admit, I react reflexively against anything that looks like the scapegoating of coaches. It happens often enough - the Red Sox just fired their pitching coach - but I'm pretty dubious about the whole thing.

The Jays did have a hitting coach who preached plate discipline and working the count. His name was Gary Down. On his watch, the team's offense went into the toilet, and he was fired halfway through his first season here. But were the problems Down's fault? I doubt it. As everyone remembers, Cito Gaston promptly fixed the offense and he really did just two things: a) he stuck Adam Lind into the lineup and b) somehow, some mysterious way, he got the team to stop hitting into a million DPs.
greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#262829) #
Here is a table comparing the Yankees' AL annual ranking in BB drawn / runs scored over the last ten years:

Year: BB / RS

2012: 4 / 3
2011: 1 / 2
2010: 2 / 1
2009: 1 / 1
2008: 8 / 7
2007: 3 / 1
2006: 3 / 1
2005: 2 / 2
2004: 1 / 2
2003: 1 / 3

Nope. No correlation there. And can someone please tell the Yankees to stop walking so damn much? They could score so much more if they would just let er' rip!
Original Ryan - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 08:03 PM EDT (#262830) #
The Jays did have a hitting coach who preached plate discipline and working the count. His name was Gary Down.

Nitpick: His name was actually Gary Denbo.

I don't know the impact Denbo had on the Blue Jays' offence, but I feel sorry for the guy. He served as the major league hitting coach for two different teams, and he was fired mid-way through his first season on both occasions.

hypobole - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 08:16 PM EDT (#262831) #
"the Jays' lazy, hacking, undisciplined approach"

I checked out Colby Rasmus' swing %. This year he has swung at about the same % of pitches as his very good 2010, and quite a bit fewer than either 2009 or 2011.

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9893&position=OF#platediscipline

Maybe also, pitchers he faces playing in the Al East are better than pitchers he faced playing in the NL Central in years past.
greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#262834) #
Re Rasmus. Yes, it's quite possible that he's facing better pitching in the AL.

It could also be that in 2010 (his sophomore season after a so-so 2009), pitchers were more willing to challenge him. Subjectively, it looks as though pitchers are now throwing him a lot of pitches off the plate (such as breaking balls down and fastballs up and in and away). Sometimes he lays off, but he also chases quite a bit.

During the Yankees series, Buck Martinez commented that the Yankees believed they could get Rasmus out by pitching aggressively inside. In theory, this makes sense, as Rasmus is now so close to the plate.
Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#262838) #
"Nope. No correlation there. And can someone please tell the Yankees to stop walking so damn much? They could score so much more if they would just let er' rip!"

Here is a table comparing the Rays AL annual ranking in BB drawn / runs scored over the last 10 years (Year: BB/Runs):

  • 2012: 1/10
  • 2011: 3/7
  • 2010: 1/3
  • 2009: 3/5
  • 2008: 2/9
  • 2007: 5/8
  • 2006: 12/14
  • 2005: 13/8
  • 2004: 12/14
  • 2003: 12/12
Yes, you're right. Definitely a correlation there. Can someone please tell Tampa ...... wait, what?

greenfrog - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#262839) #
Apart from 2012 and 2008, that correlation is actually reasonably close. Here's another team, picked at random (Detroit):

Year: BB / RS

2012: 5 / 6
2011: 5 / 4
2010: 5 / 8
2009: 8 / 10
2008: 5 / 4
2007: 12 / 2
2006: 13 / 5
2005: 14 / 11
2004: 6 / 8
2003: 12 / 14

Same deal - not perfect, and there are a couple of outliers, but there is definitely some significant correlation going on. Personally, I think that other things being equal, more walks *tends* to mean more skilled hitters with more plate discipline, which *generally* translates to more runs.
Hodgie - Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 11:19 PM EDT (#262842) #
We must have different definitions of reasonably close then, because I only see a correlation in 50% of those years. I originally thought that one could argue 2007 and 2005 were close, until I realized that both years wound up with the same ranking in runs despite very different ranks in walks. Doesn't spell correlation to me. I would also think that 5 straight years of elite walk rankings (top 3) would result in more than 1 elite ranking in runs.

Like the Yankess, Detroit tells a different story where as I can bring up a team like Oakland who has been top 4 in walks 7 of those same 10 years and yet has managed to rank higher than 9th only once in runs. I am sure that we could go back and forth and find examples of both all night long. Well, maybe not - I am much too lazy for that. I do think your last point is reasonable and in a round about way gets back to what Magpie was saying though.

Magpie - Thursday, August 30 2012 @ 12:57 AM EDT (#262844) #
I'm now trying to figure out just which of the BB-Ref offensive columns I really clicked on - they were fourth in the league in something.

It was walks! But I was looking at 2011. Since then I've slept for about twelve hours (don't ask!), and I now feel refreshed enough to produce a Data Table! But not here, it's too hard to format...
Mike Green - Thursday, August 30 2012 @ 08:54 AM EDT (#262852) #
New papa Escobar had a big day yesterday, albeit that the three doubles weren't exactly booming line drives. 

This year, he has swung at quite a few more pitches outside the zone.  I wonder if there is a subtle vision issue, or perhaps if there is some anxiety about fatherhood affecting his focus.  Whatever it is, I want him back in 2013 because I believe that it will be addressed. 
vw_fan17 - Thursday, August 30 2012 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#262876) #
Sure, the Yankees have OBP in spades. Team defense? Not so much.

And, as if on cue, the Yankees illustrate my point nicely with a 3-error afternoon.. :-)

Richard S.S. - Thursday, August 30 2012 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#262894) #

...I wonder if there is a subtle vision issue,...

That's something that has bothered me a lot.  When a player starts looking like he isn't seeing the ball well, when he did consistently before, what can you do?   Sometimes vision problems are physical, sometimes eviromental stresses, sometimes it's "something you ate".   How can you test for that with out offending a player?

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