Archive for May 9th, 2011

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

The 2011 Yankees’ offense has been prolific at doing two things: hitting home runs and grounding into double plays.

The Yankees have been the victims of a league leading 41 double plays (Photo: Getty Images).

After only 32 games, the team has hit an astounding 54 home runs, which equates to 273 long balls over 162 games. If that pace is maintained, the Bronx Bombers would not only establish a new franchise home run mark, but also surpass the 1997 Seattle Mariners’ record of 264.

The Yankees’ lofty home run tally has been fueled by an unusually high home run/fly ball ratio. After hitting five homers on Sunday, 17.3% of the Yankees’ fly balls have left the yard. For perspective, the league average is only 7.0% and the next highest team total is 11.3% (Texas).  What’s more, the 2010 Blue Jays, which hit 257 homers, only recorded a rate of 13.6%. So, even if the Yankees’ experience a meaningful drop in the number of home runs per fly ball, the team could still approach a record-setting pace.

On the other end of the offensive spectrum, the Yankees have also hit into 41 double plays, which puts the them on target for 207. Once again, if they maintain that pace, the team will enter the record books, this time surpassing the 1990 Boston Red Sox’ total of 174.

Double Play Correlations, 2002-2010

 Year DP GB% Spd* HRs
2010 124 44.9% 4.8 201
2009 144 43.1% 4.6 244
2008 149 45.9% 4.5 180
2007 138 45.8% 5 201
2006 139 45.4% 4.9 210
2005 125 46.8% 4 229
2004 157 45.1% 4.3 242
2003 154 43.3% 4.1 230
2002 150 42.5% 4.2 223
  R= -0.4989 -0.2936 0.2682

* Speed Score is composed of the following components:  Stolen base percentage, stolen base attempts as a percentage of opportunities, triples, double plays grounded into as a percentage of opportunities, and runs scored as a percentage of times on base.
Source: fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com


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Maybe Derek Jeter shouldn’t retire after all?

Considering the furor caused by the short stop’s early season struggles, you’d have thought Jeter was the only part of the Yankees’ team not performing up to standards. In Sunday’s 12-5 rout of the Texas Rangers, however, the Captain allayed those fears…at least for one day.

By going 4-6 with two line drive homeruns over the right centerfield wall, Jeter changed the off day’s narrative from “what’s wrong with the Captain” to “could he be turning it around”? Instead of having to deal with questions about his lagging performance, Jeter can now bask in the glow of a road trip that saw him bat .393/.414/.643.

Although the growing chorus of Jeter’s detractors will likely dismiss the performance as “only one game”, it’s worth noting that his WAR of 0.6 (fangraphs’ version) ranks within reach of every other American League shortstop except Maicer Izturis (who has played only 11 of 26 games at the position). Ironically, a large part of that ranking is attributable to Jeter’s defense, which, according to UZR/150, currently ranks ninth best in all of baseball.

In addition to finding his power stroke over the weekend, Jeter also earned the distinction of becoming the most tenured short stop with one team, surpassing Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,302 games with the Orioles. By the end of the season, Jeter will also surpass Mickey Mantle for the most games played by a Yankee, not to mention the first player in the franchise to reach 3,000 hits.

True Yankees: Longest Tenured Yankees at Each Position

As of May 8, 2011.
Note: Blue lines represent those who only played for the Yankees. Gray lines represent most games at position by players who were also on other teams.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Judging by the tone earlier in the week, it was easy to come away with the impression that some would prefer if Jeter didn’t stick around long enough to accomplish any of the aforementioned milestones. In an ironic twist, it almost seems as if the Captain has worn out his welcome with a significant portion of the fan base simply because he may never regain the glory of his prime years. Hopefully, Sunday’s game will stem the tide of that sentiment. A standing ovation for Jeter in his first at bat at the Stadium on Tuesday would be a nice place to start.

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