Friday, June 14, 2019

Luke Voit Not As Adroit

Everyone's favorite story last year was Luke Voit. After a year of frustration with Greg Bird and anyone else the Yankees put over at first in 2018, Voit was acquired with little fanfare, plugged into first base and became the most exciting and fun story for the 2018 Yankees. This spring, the question was, "Is Luke Voit For Real?"  I asked the question myself. While Voit has good numbers and is in the plus side of the offensive average, he is not the same dynamo and does not seem to be having the same amount of fun. So what is wrong with Luke Voit?

One could speculate in many ways. Last year, Voit was just a cog in a lineup full of powerful options for a team that broke the all-time homer record. With all the injuries this year, did Voit take too much upon himself and try too hard to make up the difference? Is it a strong factor that people doubted if he was the real deal and he tried too hard to prove he was? That is all speculation, of course, and without Voit opening up about his mindset, that is all it can be.

There are observations one can make. He looks too intense at the plate. Every pitch is a battle. He does not look nearly as happy as he was. His swing at times looks like he has taken the uppercut to new extremes to the point of looking softball-like. His hips bail out (which he never did before) leading to swings and misses, weaker contact and ground balls. Those are all eyeball tests though. And perhaps they are legit since I have been watching baseball for half a century. But for those of you who only want to know the numbers, let's consider some of them.

Last year, Luke Voit put exactly 100 balls in play in fair territory according to Baseball-reference.com. That makes for a very easy way to come up with percentages. You cannot get more easy than that! I like this number better than Fangraphs.com's percentages because it only measures balls in fair territory. Yes, there are foul outs and the like, but I think the fair territory balls in play gives a nice picture. Some of the facts I will present do come from Fangraphs, but most are from B-Ref.  The 2018 data includes his short stint with the Cardinals.

The first thing to notice is his pull percentage. In 2018, he pulled the ball only 23% of those balls he put in fair territory. That percentage is up to 33% this year. This meets the eye test that his hips are flying open and he is trying to pull the ball much more often.

Last year, he hit four homers to the opposite field. And he hit a total of fourteen homers to either right field or center field. Out of 100 balls put in fair territory, that is pretty incredible. This year, Voit has only hit one homer to right field and ten to center field (the same as last year) in 69 more at bats!

According to Fangraphs heat maps, Luke Voit's happy zones have shrunk. Last year, there was pink or darker in 22 of Voit's 36 strike zone sectors. This included one on the outer sixth of the plate. This year, he has 18 happy sectors and none on the outer sixth of the plate. This again shows that Voit has lost his approach to think first to drive the ball to right and center.

Voit's ground ball rate has increased by five percentage points while his homer to fly ball rate is lower by almost fourteen percentage points.

The most damning statistic that shows Luke Voit does not have the same approach as last year is his hard hit ball rate. Last year, his hard hit ball rate was 47%. It was that rate that had people thinking Voit was the real deal. This year, Voit's hard hit ball rate is down to 37.1%.  That is quite a drop and would account for his Batting Average On Balls In Play (BABIP) dropping from .365 last year to this year's .309.

There are two ways to look at Luke Voit's performance thus far this season. One could say that last year was unsustainable. Voit had never performed like that at any level of professional baseball. And that even where he is this year is as a very good offensive performer. His OPS+ is 131 and wRC+ is 132 (two ways at looking at the same thing). That means that he is 31 or 32% better than league average as an offensive performer. He is still a positive offensive force for the Yankees overall and still a godsend after the Greg Bird days.

On the other side of the coin, if he could go back to last year's approach and take the outside pitch to right or center and keep his hips from flying out, he wouldn't necessarily be the flame that last year was, but he would be better than he is and perhaps he would smile more again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

MLB All Star Voting Is Seriously Flawed

I just completed my first ballot for the MLB All Star roster over at MLB.com. The "first ballot" thought is a real sticking point. Why are there multiple votes allowed? Is this American Idol? And what about the timing of the start of voting? Can we really tell who deserves to go based on two months of baseball? These are some of the hangups I have when it comes to, not only this new voting, but also the old way. I am not a fan of fan voting.

First of all, I feel a very compelling guilt if I do not vote for many members of my favorite team. I have been so pleased with DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, so the urge is to vote for them. But Urshela currently stands 17th in the league in fWAR for third basemen. LeMahieu has a better argument, but if you boil it all down, Tommy La Stella and Brandon Lowe have a slight edge. Of course, part of the problem is the unreliability of the defensive statistics. Is Urshela really the sixteenth best fielding third baseman in baseball? I have a really hard time buying that.

The only Yankee I voted for was Gary Sanchez. That's it. To me, that is the way it should be done. You should not vote for hometown guys or guys with great reputations. Who is the best this year? Vote for that guy. But how many are like me out there? I am not trying to paint myself as this saint, but you know the majority of fans are voting for hometown guys or guys who were great in years past. When that happens, you get Bryce Harper starting for the NL in 2018.

If it was one vote per person, then there might be more clarity for guys and gals that think like me to have a chance. But if you can vote dozens of times or whatever it is, everything gets muddy and you do not get a true picture of who should start the game.

I also believe that the voting should not be started until two weeks before the final selections or the game itself. Say, for example, you could vote for pitchers and Domingo German is on the ballot when you first go to vote at the very start of June or whenever they started. German was an All Star in April and May. He is not now. That is how fast things can change.

How about if the reverse is true? What if a guy was just middling through April and May and plays with stars in his hair in June and by the end of the month is the best player at his position to that point? Sorry, pal, we already voted for someone else.

I do not believe that smaller market teams are penalized as in the past when voting was by cards given out at the ballpark. With things on the Internet now, it should not matter that way any more. Plus, I am not sure I buy the small market idea anyway. When every franchise is worth at least a billion or more and all that money pours in from MLB.com, etc., then you only have franchises that spend money and those who would rather pocket the money.

The alternatives are unattractive as well. Polling managers leads to team stacking. Just look at how pitchers are selected. Last year's league champion manager will put his entire pitching staff out there if he can manage it. So, no, that does not work. Writers cannot even get the Hall of Fame ballot correctly. How will they manage an All Star selection? The problem is that some will do their homework and others will just file it in. Do players really know how all the other players are doing? Doubtful.

I would be okay with fan voting if it was one vote per fan. Perhaps I could go as high as three if some change their minds. But that's it. I would also be okay if the selections were made from equal shares of writers, fans, managers and players. I just know that a plethora of votes per fan is not productive and will not lead to the best players starting the game.

All that said, MLB has the best All Star format and game in all of sports. It is the only major sport where the players actually play the game to the best of their abilities. As flawed as the voting is, the MLB All Star game is the only one in sports I am willing to watch.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Let's Play Yankees GM - Roster Moves As Players Return

The New York Yankees have missed a major chunk of their expected starting lineup and yet the team is in first place and playing very good baseball. The wounded have been slowly dribbling in and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. So many of the "fill-in" players have been playing so well that a roster crunch is definitely on its way. So how should the Yankees handle the roster as players return? Let's take a look at how this could (or should) play out.

I should point out ahead of time that these thoughts are contingent on no further injuries and based on expected return times of missing players. Let's first look at the non-pitchers.

Didi Gregorius should be the first one back. Didi is the only one not surprised that he is ready so soon. The caveat here is that the Yankees' infield has been as solid as I have seen it since the 1990s. DJ LeMahieu is so good at second base and he has been hitting so well. You hate to move him. But move him the Yankees will have to do. What is the corresponding roster move?

The easy answer is Thairo Estrada. The kid is ahead of projections and was not supposed to start his career yet. Plus, he is not playing every day to stay sharp. But the 23-year-old has a .380 wOBA and a 140 wRC+ while playing respectable defense. Would he learn just as much at the Major League level and contribute like he has?

My answer is to DFA Kendrys Morales. Morales is a dinosaur who cannot help himself hitting consistently into the shift. He is good for a walk here and there. But otherwise, he offers little value at the plate and no value in the field. And, he clogs up the DH and the base paths. Sending him away makes it easier for LeMahieu to get consistent at bats as either the regular first baseman and a rotate DH with Gleyber Torres, Gregorius (Torres plays short when Didi DHs) and Gio Urshela.

Didi Gregorius becomes your regular shortstop. Gleyber Torres moves to second, which is a shame. Urshela is your fixture at third, Luke Voit is your first baseman / DH and LeMahieu is the rover with Estrada the backup.

The next player back appears to be Troy Tulowitzki. This should be an easy one. Thanks for trying, Tulo. See ya. Any other decision would be stupid. By missing half the season already, he has lived up (or down) to his injury reputation.

Then there is Aaron Judge. I do not know about you, but I sure miss Aaron Judge. This should be an easy decision as well. Cameron Maybin has been good for the Yankees and is a great team guy. But he is the only logical choice. Brett Gardner is part of the furniture. Aaron Hicks is a newly-contracted guy and Clint Frazier is one of your best prospects and is mashing reasonably well in between his strikeouts. The only logic behind keeping Maybin is that he can play all three positions in the outfield. But as long as you have Gardner and Frazier, things are covered.

The last position player back will be Giancarlo Stanton. His long absence this year has been extremely disappointing. Not that the Yankees could not cover his absence, but he makes a ton of money and together with Judge could be hitting moonshots all over the place. Things get really interesting when he returns. What should the roster move be?

The problem is that you cannot trust Stanton in the outfield. I hate a clogged up DH. If he could play LF every day, I would be fine with that with Gardner as the backup and then you have to send Frazier down. But if he is a DH only, then you need Frazier for depth and the move is to send Estrada down. I am okay with four rotating infielders as long as they do not get hurt.

I am not even going to discuss Greg Bird. I am not even going to think about him or Jacoby Ellsbury. In fact, I am fine if I never see them in pinstripes again. And, of course, Miguel Andujar is gone until next season.

Okay, the return of Dellin Betances is long-awaited and hoped for. His roster move will be easy as the Yankees have been carrying a fringe pitcher all season.

As for starters, I do not see any point in bringing in Dallas Keuchel. First, he will be expensive for what, a little more than half the season? If CC Sabathia can hang in there and if Luis Severino comes back in August, the Yankees should be fine. Plus, Jordan Montgomery is somewhere out there in the ether too. The only worry is how many innings you want to put on Domingo German. German could be a bullpen piece in the second half and then a full-time starter next season. I guess I am fine with either signing Keuchel or not signing him.

Personally, I do not think Keuchel is as good as he used to be. His strikeout and ground ball rates have dipped. The only reason, perhaps, to sign him is so that the Rays or Red Sox do not.

I do not think we need to talk about Jonathan Loaisiga or Ben Hiller. Hiller will need to prove himself again in the minors and Loaisiga needs to find some command.

So there it is. The Yankees will have some interesting decisions to make as the wounded come trickling back. How they handle the corresponding roster moves could go a long way toward determining how far they get in the AL East or, if the Yankees get there, the playoffs.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Best Reliever Seasons Of All Time

I was thinking one night about the greatest MLB teams I had seen in my lifetime. The 1998 Yankees, of course, was one of  those thoughts. But there was also the Big Red Machine with Bench, Morgan, etc. The 2001 Diamondbacks, the 2004 and 2018 Red Sox teams were thoughts. And then I thought of the 1984 Detroit Tigers. I went to look at baseball-reference.com about that team and the thing that blew my mind was the tandem of Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez in the bullpen. Hernandez won the Cy Young Award that season and between those two pitchers, they won 19 games and saved 46 others. Doug Bair was also part of that amazing bullpen. According to B-R, Hernandez rated a 4.8 rWAR that season. Where did that stand all time? So I did a search.

First of all, let me state plainly that B-R and fangraphs.com rate relief pitchers totally different. As we will see later, Mariano Rivera's 1996 was given 5.0 rWAR, but fangraphs.com gave him 3.0. So I am featuring a list based on one site's valuations.

I also discovered that relief pitching has changed drastically in the last thirty years. Guys like Goose Gossage and Dick Raditz pitched in eras that were totally alien to today's MLB reality. That makes their rWAR records untouchable unless the game reverts back--which it may as all things are cyclical. So I made a list of the best rWAR totals all time and will do another list for pitchers from 1995 to today.

To be considered for this list, I defined a relief pitching season as to where all the appearances were in relief with no games started at all. First, here is the All-Time list followed by some comments and then the "modern" list from 1995 to today.  The figures going across will be the rWAR, the year, the player, the team, the games pitched, innings, ERA/FIP, OPS+ against. Here goes...

1.  8.2 - 1975 - Goose Gossage - White Sox - 62 - 141.2 - 1.84/2.62 - 56
2.  7.9 - 1973 - John Hiller - Tigers - 65 - 125.2 - 1.44/2.25 - 48
3.  7.3 - 1986 - Mark Eichhorn - Blue Jays - 69 - 157 - 1.72/2.31 - 47
4.  6.6 - 1977 - Bruce Sutter - Cubs - 62 - 107.1 - 1.34/1.61 - 31
5.  6.2 - 1967 - Ted Abernathy - Reds - 70 - 103.1 - 1.27/2.30 - 32
6.  6.1 - 1979 - Jim Kern - Rangers - 71 - 143 - 1.57/2.63 - 49
6.  6.1 - 1964 - Dick Radatz - Red Sox - 79 - 157 - 2.29/2.62 - 62
8.  6.0 - 1977 - Goose Gossage - Pirates - 72 - 133 - 1.62/2.50 - 38
9.  5.7 - 1980 - Doug Corbett - Twins - 73 - 136.1 - 1.98/3.06 - 52
9.  5.7 - 1963 - Dick Radatz - Red Sox - 66 - 132.1 - 1.97-2.18 - 62
11. 5.6 - 1979 - Sid Monge - Indians - 76 - 131 - 2.40/3.46 - 67
12. 5.5 - 1983 - Dan Quisenberry - Royals - 69 - 139 - 1.94/2.86 - 52
13. 5.4 - 1982 - Greg Minton - Giants - 78 - 123 - 1.83/3.38 - 81
13. 5.4 - 1962 - Did Raditz - Red Sox - 66 - 124.2 - 2.24/2.30 - 68
15. 5.3 - 1979 - Aurelio Lopez - Tigers - 61 - 127 - 2.41/3.57 - 65

Willie Hernandez's season of 1984 was the 22nd highest rWAR of all time according to this list.

The Goose Gossage story is interesting. He had that record-breaking season in 1975. Then the White Sox tried to make him a starter in 1976. It did not work out well. Gossage wasn't terrible, but his record was. After that season, the White Sox traded him to the Pirates where he went back to relief and had the eighth best season according to this evaluation method.

Dick Raditz did not have a long career, but for three years was what Mickey Mantle called, "That Monster." Consider that the 1964 Red Sox won only 71 games and yet, Raditz pitched in nearly half their games (79) and was a part of 63% of the team's wins. He later had a case of what Rick Ankiel dealt with and could no longer throw strikes. He died in 2005 after falling down a flight of stairs. Raditz, along with Ryne Duren, were the first two relief pitchers to average more than ten strikeouts per nine innings in a season.

I mentioned earlier that today's game is radically different than the 1960s and 1970s baseball. The dominant closers and setup men have become the Holy Grail for all teams. So, to honor the new era, these are the most valuable relief seasons since 1995.

1.  5.0 - 2006 - Jonathan Papelbon - Red Sox - 59 - 58.1 - 0.92/2.15 - 18
2.  5.0 - 1996 - Mariano Rivera - Yankees - 61 - 107.2 - 2.09/1.88 - 24
3.  4.5 - 1999 - Keith Foulke -  White Sox - 67 - 105.1 - 2.22/2.84 - 40
4.  4.4 - 2000 - Gabe White - Reds/Rockies - 68 - 84 - 2.36/2.71 - 35
5.  4.3 - 2008 - Mariano Rivera - Yankees - 64 - 70.2 - 1.40/2.30 - 10
5.  4.3 - 2007 - Rafael Betancourt - Indians - 68 - 79.1 - 1.47/2.22 - 26
7.  4.2 - 2018 - Blake Trienen - Athletics - 68 - 80.1 - 0.78/1.82 - 18
7.  4.2 - 2016 - Zack Britton - Orioles - 69 - 67 - 0.51/1.94 - 17
7.  4.2 - 2004 - Mariano Rivera - Yankees - 74 - 78.2 - 1.94/2.82 - 50
7.  4.2 - 2002 - Octavio Dotel - Astros - 83 - 97.1 - 1.85/2.43 - 35

Mariano Rivera also had another 4.0 rWAR season. Rivera's OPS+ figure of 10 seemed remarkable to me. So I did another search on any pitcher with over 50 innings pitched and a 10 OPS+ against or lower. This might be another way to indicate the best relieving season of all time. It turns out that there have only been five such seasons. They are, from bestest to best:

1.  Craig Kimbrel - 2012 - Braves - 1 (!)  Truly remarkable
2.  Eric Gagne  - 2003 - Dodgers - 4    Maybe it was steroid aided, but still!
3.  Koji Uehara - 2013 - Red Sox - 8    He was unhittable that year
4.  Billy Wagner - 1999 - Astros - 10   The most underrated reliever ever
4.  Mariano Rivera - 2008 - Yankees - 10

So what do you think? Which stat better states the best reliever season of all time?  I think it would be hard to argue about Craig Kimbrel's 2012. He struck out 50% of the batters he faced that season in a season where his WHIP was 0.654. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Yankees This Week - Road Games With Orioles and Royals

I started writing these weekly previews on April 22 and the Yankees have gone 17-7 since that point. They had a record of 11-10 at the time. Being the superstitious sort when it comes to baseball, I figured I had best be faithful to continue writing them. Yeah, sure. Like I am the reason for their run to first place. Ha! But the mind works in foolish ways. And yes, I hear Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" playing in the background. The Yankees simply have to execute this week as this week on the road features two weak teams.

Tonight starts another four game series with the Orioles, this time in Baltimore. Camden Yards is a fun place for the Yankees to hit and the Orioles have only won two of their last eleven. That said, the Yankees again face Andrew Cashner tonight and he has pitched really well in three of his last four outings. Cashner has struck out twenty batters in his last sixteen innings. The team lost all four of those games, however, and Cashner is pretty much a lock to allow at least one home run in every game.  JA Happ will need to be in better form as Cashner should keep his team in the game.

Tomorrow is a much better match up for the Yankees as Domingo German looks to continue his winning ways against the gopher-yielding David Hess. The rest of the series pitchers have not been announced but the Yankees will probably see Dylan Bundy late in the week and he was really great in his last start.

The Yankees need at least three wins in this series and a sweep would be fantastic. A split would be a major disappointment against such a highly struggling team.

The Kansas City Royals have just as many losses (31) as the Orioles. The Royals have lost nine of their last thirteen games. The Royals have many nice pieces. Alex Gorden is having a nice season and loves batting against the Yankees. Hunter Dozier and Whitt Merrifield are accomplished hitters having good seasons. And it appears that Adalberto Mondesi is a blossoming star at shortstop. Jorge Solar is a three-outcome hitter and leads the team in homers. But he has already struck out over 60 times.

The real loss for the Royals was Salvador Perez. His loss to Tommy John Surgery for the season seriously weakened them. His replacements, Martin Maldonado and Cam Gallagher, have been black holes at the plate. Think Austin Romine but much worse. Not a pretty picture, eh?

First base has also been a real problem for the Royals. Lucas Duda was not hitting and is now hurt.  His replacement, Ryan O'Hearn has not yet found his Big League stroke.

Overall the Royals are ninth in the AL in offense. Not terrible but not great either. It is a team that likes to run and they lead the AL in caught stealing. But the Yankees have problems with base runners.

The starting pitching is where the Royals break down. They do not have a shut down starter or power arms. Only two teams in the AL have walked more batters and only one has given up more hits. Danny Duffy never became the star the Royals hoped he'd be, but he is probably the team's best starter.

The bullpen has three guys (old friend, Ian Kennedy is one) having decent seasons, but whenever there is a Wily Peralta to exploit then the bullpen does not scare you. They do not strike out a lot of batters (except for Jake Diekman) and the team's five saves are the lowest in the AL. It has been a bit sad to see Brad Boxberger's comeback effort not producing anything positive.

Like the Orioles series, a two out of three outcome against the Royals would be acceptable. A sweep would be awesome. Losing two out of three would be a major disappointment. The Yankees should go 5-2 this week. They very well could win six of seven or even all seven. But 5-2 will do it.

What to watch for this week

  • With a long stretch of games without a day off, how many off days will Aaron Boone and company give his players? I think there will be more than what is comfortable. And it will continue to give me constipation.
  • Clint Frazier has been stone cold since he came back from the DL. He was so hot before the ankle sprain. It is a shame. Frazier needs to hit. 
  • CC Sabathia needs two more wins to reach 250 for his career. I really feel like that is an important number for him to reach. Run support has been difficult in his starts. The Yankees need to get this done! 249 this week!?
  • The Red Sox are playing the Blue Jays and Astros this week. They already picked up a win today. They should win four games this week. 
  • The Bay Rays have a tough week against the Dodgers and Indians. They might have difficulty winning four games this week.
  • Five wins will extend the Yankees' hold on first place.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Over Under On How Many Yankee Regulars Rest In Twin Bill

I obviously wrote this before finding out about Kendrys Morales. And no, I am not thrilled with the deal at all. If he costs Clint Frazier a single at bat, I will be upset. And after the double-header, which player will be sent down to get back to 25? Argh!

That title is way too long! I could not think of a shorter one. Anyway, The New York Yankees have had the first two games of a cushy home series against the Orioles rained out. That is unfortunate as it would have been nice to have the easier opponent for a few games. Now they will have to play two double-headers to make up the losses. One will be on Wednesday. My question here is, despite not playing the last two days and having an off day on Thursday, how many Yankee regulars will have at least one game off during the double-header? My number is three with a lean toward over.

At this point, the "regulars" are: Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Cameron Maybin, Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez. I can predict easily that Sanchez will sit one of the games as catchers never play both halves. Gleyber Torres seems to have a barking elbow, so he will sit at least one game. And Aaron Hicks is just coming back from the DL, so "caution" will dictate him sitting at least one of the games. Who is my fourth? Let's make it Brett Gardner who often sits one game of a double-header. That will mean that Hicks will play one game in center and Gardner the other.

I can somewhat understand Sanchez and Gleyber. Both are dinged a little and I get the catcher thing. That would be the only two *I* would rest. If Hicks is not healthy enough to be back and play two games, then he shouldn't be back.

But, do not be surprised if the Yankees, in their infinite wisdom and hell-fire desire to rest people, rest more than four. If so, I will be furious and it will not be the first time this season, nor will it be the last.

Let's talk about this rest thing for a minute. I did some work at baseball-reference.com to find out the adverse affects playing almost every game has on players. Obviously, I am not a numbers guru and there are flaws in my thinking. For example, I concentrate on OPS because figuring out first half and second half WAR would be beyond me. I still do not believe in the fielding statistics and no one has convinced me that they are not seriously flawed....still. So, I went by OPS. And you can follow along with my thought process with my spreadsheet on Google Sheets here (click on the word, "here").

What I found first that was interesting to me was that from 1940 to 2018, the average number of players that played nearly every game has remained around ten players per year. There are big swings and variations from year to year, but that average has held true for 70 years. But in the last five seasons, the average number of players playing at least 160 games has dropped to 7.8 players a year. So this idea of resting players is taking a hold on teams and began about five seasons ago.

There were 90 players who played 160 games or more in a season since 2010. Of those players, 51 of them or 57% had a worse second half than their first half. The same 90 produced 45 or exactly half as many worse Septembers than their season's OPS. Ten of them, or 10% played less than 100 games the following season. The latter statistic seems incidental and more of the fluke injury kind of thing.

There were several repeat players on the list. Hunter Pence did it twice and once way under-performed in the second half of the season and in the September and once way over-performed both. The same thing happened with Prince Fielder. Others that did it multiple times (more than two) had a season or two where they were worse in the second half and the last month and a season or two better. So there really was not a rhyme or reason for multiple full-season players.

There were some players who had amazing second halves and last months and some that had abysmal ones. The average season OPS among the 90 seasons was .809. The average OPS for the second half among the 90 was .802. And the last month of the season average was also .802. While there were a lot of variations among the 90, the averages as a whole do not fall off a cliff.

If I did notice one trend, it was that middle infielders seemed to suffer from playing almost every game more than most others. Among the few that really tanked in September (besides the one by Hunter Pence already mentioned) guys like Rougned Odor and Jonathan Schoop had September OPS figures in the .500s. That said, Alcides Escobar finished better in multiple seasons in the second half and the last month. So there isn't a global statement that can be mentioned about infielders.

Perhaps I should have used OPS+ or some of the Fangraphs.com stats to look at the splits. And please note that I am not anywhere close to proving anything. But my list just does not show a smoking gun that playing nearly every game means a player will be far less valuable later on in the season. Call it a conversation starter that others smarter than I can do the math justice.

I am willing to go so far as to say giving a player a day off during a long stretch is probably a good thing. I am not willing to move from my position that a player who is on a good roll should not skip a game during that roll. Nor do I think it necessary to give a player a day off when the schedule already has a day off that week or just recently. If a player is banged up a little and could use a day off combined with a scheduled day off is okay I guess.

I am just not okay with the idea that a game can be put at risk because you want to keep your best players on the bench to rest them. How about if you lose the division by a game? How about if you lose the wildcard by a game? How about if you lose out on home field advantage by a game? No, I will never accept that. I do not know if Aaron Boone makes those decisions or he is given direction by the analytics department. Every game is important and every game should be fully attempted to win. My beef is when this rest analytic stuff puts the Yankees in a poorer position to win the game.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Yankees This Week

The New York Yankees' past week could not have gone more swimmingly. They took three of four from the fading Seattle Mariners (The Red Sox would demolish that team later in the week) and then went down to their personal house of horrors at Tropicana Field and took two of three from the front runners. Both of those wins came against the Bay Rays' stud pitchers, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell. Of course, they still haven't found a way to beat the abominable "Opener" whenever the Rays cheapen the game by using that strategy. Sorry, folks, just my opinion...

The best news of all came yesterday when Chad Green was called back from Triple-A and threw bullets and struck out three straight batters. Welcome back to greatness, Mr. Green.

And so the Yankees find themselves just a half a game back in the AL East and the Red Sox are starting to play like the Red Sox and are only three back. Everything is starting to gel just like I predicted it would. The Yanks have returned home to Yankee Stadium and this week will play the Baltimore Orioles and those same Rays for the weekend. The Red Sox will host the Rockies and the Astros this week.

I believe tonight will mark the return of Aaron Hicks. I don't know if that will be a good thing or not. Other teams get players back like the Rays did Austin Meadows and he hits moonshots all over the place. The Yankees get players back like Miguel Andujar and they get one hit in the month of May. I have to say that I was surprised that the Yankees sent Mike Tauchman down to the minors as the corresponding move. It seemed to me that it should have been Andujar who needs to get some playing time and figure things out. Perhaps he should have had that operation after all.

The Yankees also placed Jonathan Loaisiga on the DL for a shoulder strain (uh oh) and have called up Chance Adams, who might start tonight's game. Hmm...

Let's face it, the Yankees need to sweep the Orioles. Teams like the Orioles are going nowhere and the Yankees other AL East competitors have no problem beating the O's regularly. The Yankees need to do so as well. Anything short of a sweep will be disappointing. The Orioles have zero pitching. I mean, none. Baltimore is dead last in the AL in ERA and the Yankees face starters, David Hess, Andrew Cashner and Dan Straily. All three are struggling with perhaps Cashner being the best of the trio.

The Yankees will counter with Adams (perhaps), JA Happ and Domingo German. It would be nice if Adams could pitch well and give some hope that he is a prospect many have hoped he would be, especially after last year's abysmal three game debut. He is only 24. But the clock is ticking. The  thing is, even if Adams blows up, the Yankees should win in a slugfest.

After an off day on Thursday, the Yankees will host the Rays. Glasnow went on the DL right after his Yankee start, so they will not have to worry about him. But they cannot seem to hit Charlie Morton, Blake Snell is elite and, to be sure, there will be an opener in there somewhere.

When the Yankees have the Rays at home, they have to win and winning two of three would be great if they can do that again next weekend. It is a lot to expect from this continuing rag band of players, but they have spoiled us by keeping things interesting (understatement alert). A 6-1 week would be great. Anything less than 5-2 would be disappointing.