Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 24, 2003
BASEBALL: Yankee Gloves

There's something unusual going on with the Yankees that you may not have noticed, given that they are getting good pitching, crushing their opposition, and rolling to a record start even for the Yankees: the Yankee defense has been exceptionally ineffective.

Look at the pitching stats: the Yanks are now tied for the AL lead with a 3.01 ERA, but they are 6th in the AL in hits allowed despite a league-leading 156 K, just 50 walks (1 off the league lead), and a league-best 5 home runs allowed (less than half the nearest competitor).

Why? Simple. The Yanks are next to last in the league (above Texas) in turning balls in play into outs, 40 points below the league average (.6748 to .7126).

This has particularly affected the bullpen. Chris Hammond: 9 IP, 11 H, 0HR, 1 BB, 7 K. Antonio Osuna: 11.1 IP, 10 H, 0HR, 8 BB, 13 K. Juan Acevedo: 8 IP, 9 H, 1HR, 1 BB, 7 K. Jose Contreras: 5 IP, 11 H, 0HR, 6 BB, 7 K.

What else do these guys have in common? All new to the team. I'm not sure anyone has studied this, but I wonder if defenses are more effective when they've had time to adjust positioning behind a new pitcher . . .

Here's the other thing: last year, the Yanks were just around the league average. What changed? Well, there's Matsui, but the most obvious change is the loss of the everyday shorstop. Derek Jeter's defensive numbers have never been good, but is it possible they actually miss him? Erick Almonte has a Range Factor of 4.17 and a Zone Rating of .667 this year, and he's fielding an awful .929. Playing under basically the same conditions last season, Jeter's numbers were 3.81, .803 and .977. In other words, Almonte's taking more plays, but only because way more are his his way, and he's making more errors.

Do they miss Jeter? From the numbers alone, I can't say.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 01:03 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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