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Archive for May 16th, 2011

Although it now seems clear that Jorge Posada made a mistake by pulling himself from Saturday’s lineup, the reactions of many have reached absurd proportions. Words like selfish, arrogant, liar and quitter have been freely tossed around, and some have even suggested that the transgression warranted a severe disciplinary action (a feeling reportedly shared by some in the front office).  Based on this response, you’d think the former All Star had committed a felony. In fact, he might have received more sympathy if he had.

Despite his son’s significant health concerns, Jorge Posada rarely took a day off from the lineup (Photo: Daily News).

The most ironic part of the ill-informed articles questioning Posada’s loyalty is very few players have exhibited a comparable level of dedication to the team. I wonder how many of those who have been so quick to label Posada as selfish and pampered realize just how much he has sacrificed over the years?

Even after he found out that Jorge IV would have to undergo serious surgery. Even after the delicate surgery last August on the then 8-month-old. Posada stayed silent and kept playing.” – Buster Olney, The New York Times, February 7, 2001

During the 2000 season, Jorge and Laura Posada quietly struggled with a very painful reality. Their new born son, Jorge IV, had been diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a life threatening congenital skull deformity that would requires years of surgery to correct. Despite the difficult months leading up the first surgery on August 2, however, Posada not only remained a fixture in the Yankees lineup (he played 151 games including 142 behind the plate), but established himself as one of the team’s best hitters.

When the day of the surgery finally arrived, Posada took one game off to be with his son, but then returned right back to the lineup. Two days after fearing that he would never see his boy again, the weary catcher went 4-5 against Seattle.

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

The longer the Yankees’ offensive malaise continues, the more it becomes confusing. Over a three-week period that has seen the team’s per game production plummet by almost two runs, no one explanation has been evident. Nonetheless, there must be something that stands out as a reasonable cause for the batting slump that most of the team is currently enduring.

After scanning the Yankees’ season splits in 2011, one number jumps out more than any other. In 30 plate appearances with a 3-0 count, the Yankees haven’t recorded a single hit. Of course, that statistics is misleading because the team has walked in 90% of those instances, or just a shade below the league average. So, when compared to the league’s performance on 3-0 (.366/.955/.761), it appears as if the Yankees have only missed out one or two hits. What’s more, the Yankees won all three games when those 3-0 outs occurred, so this split has played no role in the larger trend.

Yankees sOPS+ in Three-Ball Counts

Split PA AB HR BA OBP SLG sOPS+
3-0 Count 30 3 0 0.000 0.900 0.000 -6
3-1 Count 87 44 3 0.386 0.686 0.682 99
Full Count 243 156 8 0.199 0.477 0.385 130
After 3-0 79 31 4 0.258 0.709 0.710 142
After 3-1 166 95 7 0.253 0.570 0.526 111
Three Balls 360 203 11 0.236 0.563 0.443 114

Note: sOPS+ is a measurement that compares the Yankees performance in a particular split to the league average.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Even after an awful weekend in which the Yankees struggled mightily on three ball counts, the team’s related OPS splits are at least on par with the rest of the league. So, although the inability to do damage on 3-1 did hurt the Yankees over the past weekend, it has not been a systemic problem.

With yet another theory dismissed, one more observation bears closer examination. A lot has been made of the Yankees’ scoring too many runs via the long ball, which is an inherently silly argument. However, is it possible that the team is trying too hard to go deep? Although this tendency is difficult to identify in the numbers, one manifestation might be a decline in off-field production at the expense of pulling the ball. In other words, instead of letting the homeruns come naturally, the Yankees may be forcing the issue.

wOBA Relative to Hit Placement, 2002-2011

Source: fangraphs.com

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After being swept by the Boston Red Sox at home, the Yankees concluded one of their most embarrassing and demoralizing weeks in recent memory. In addition to losing three games to their heated rival, not to mention enduring the Jorge Posada soap opera, the Yankees also dropped two games to the Kansas City Royals. As a result, the team hopped on a plane to Tampa with a five game losing streak, matching their longest skid at the new Yankee Stadium. Hopefully, there was enough room on the flight for all the baggage.

Ted Williams congratulates Joe Cronin after his two run homer sparked another Boston victory during its five game sweep in the Bronx (Photo: NY Times).

When the Yankees and Red Sox meet, things tend to get blown out of proportion. However, being swept by Boston at home is a pretty significant event, at least from a historical perspective. Since the two ball clubs were founded in 1901, the Yankees have only been swept by the Red Sox in 13 home series of three games or more. Five of those series occurred before the opening of Yankee Stadium (including one when the team resided in Baltimore), meaning Boston has only come into the Bronx and swept on eight occasions (and two of those series took place at the end of the season).

Road Warriors: Red Sox’ Sweeps in Yanks’ Home Ballpark, 1901-1911

Games RS RA From  To Ballpark
3 10 18 5/13/2011 5/15/2011 Yankee Stadium III
3 4 16 4/23/2004 4/25/2004 Yankee Stadium II
3 12 18 9/10/1999 9/12/2000 Yankee Stadium II
3 9 22 6/16/1986 6/18/1986 Yankee Stadium II
3 5 13 10/1/1982 10/3/1982 Yankee Stadium II
3 4 11 9/20/1968 9/22/1968 Yankee Stadium
3 2 9 9/25/1953 9/27/1953 Yankee Stadium
5 12 19 7/7/1939 7/9/1939 Yankee Stadium
5 18 54 6/19/1912 6/22/1912 Hilltop Park
3 9 18 4/11/1912 4/13/1912 Hilltop Park
3 5 17 10/3/1911 10/4/1911 Hilltop Park
3 5 26 6/1/1903 6/3/1903 Hilltop Park
3 15 22 9/27/1902 9/29/1902 Oriole Park

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Although dropping three straight to Boston has a bitter feel, this weekend’s sweep doesn’t qualify as the Yankees’ most lopsided home series loss in the rivalry’s history. On two occasions, they dropped a five-game home series to the Red Sox. The first whitewash, which occurred in 1912, came amid a more encompassing 12-game losing streak to Boston that included three straight home series sweeps. During those five games in June 1912, the Yankees were outscored by a whopping 54-18, making that series the first “Boston Massacre” in the rivalry.

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