Assigning Blame to Each Member of the New York Yankee's Lineup
Playing for the New York Yankees comes with high expectations. When those expectations aren't met, people start pointing fingers and passing out the blame.
While I'm not a fan of the blame game, with an offense as potent as the New York Yankees, someone has to be at fault.
Last week was a dark one in the New York Yankees clubhouse. The team couldn't seem to win or score a run. Their best hitters were practically no-shows at the plate.
They started to turn things around with their wins over the Oakland Athletics, but seemed to be forced back down by the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees still haven't found their offensive rhythm and can't seem to win against good teams.
New York is a city where results are expected almost immediately. If not, well, that's why I'm ranking the players in the lineup based on who's most to blame. The ranking will look at the expectations for the players and what they've done so far.
Now let's see who's most to blame for the recent offensive shortage.
9. Derek Jeter
Hard to blame the captain as he's been the only consistent guy on the team. Derek Jeter's pulling a solo act a la Will Smith in I am Legend. He's the lone guy who's kept his average over .300, been healthy, and gets the occasional homer.
Not many people were expecting much from Jeter when the season started. Certainly no one expected him to be the team's leader in batting average this far into the season.
Many expected Jeter to decline this year. He's done the exact opposite.
Jeter also leads the team in hits and on-base percentage. He's doing everything a leadoff batter should do. It's hard to imagine where the team would be if Jeter was struggling too.
Sure, his batting average has slipped since April, but it's still over .300, something no one else on the team can say. Jeter gets on base just about every game while also getting at least one good, clutch hit.
It's kind of hard to blame a guy who has a .397 batting average with runners on base.
8. Brett Gardner
A little surprised to see Brett Gardner on this list? That's to be expected since you can't really blame a guy who's only played nine games because of injuries. Then again, that's part of the problem, isn't it?
90 percent of baseball, or any sport or job, is showing up because by showing up, you can at least have a positive influence. By being absent, you can't really do anything to help.
That's why I'm placing a little of the blame on Brett Gardner and his elbow. It was clear that the New York Yankees desperately missed Gardner's ability to get on base and create his own runs last week.
The team seemed lethargic and in need of a boost. Gardner's the guy who usually does that job. He works the count, steals bases and can bunt the guy over while still getting on-base.
Before going down with an injury, Gardner batted .321/.424/.393. Those are some numbers that the Yankees could've used last week.
Gardner's on his way back and hopefully he can help the Yankees with his speed and on-base skills. Here's to him having no more setbacks.
7. Raul Ibanez
I can honestly say that I never thought that Raul Ibanez would be one of the saviors of the New York Yankees when the season started. He's proved me wrong since then.
The other big names in the lineup are still trying to find their rhythm. Their lack of production has been picked up by Raul Ibanez. He led the team in RBI until Nick Swisher took that honor from him.
Ibanez is now fourth in RBI and tied for second with Mark Teixeira in home runs. He's one of the team's better hitters with RISP with an average of .275, 18 RBI, and three homers.
With runners on, Ibanez is hitting .258/.320/.606 with six home runs and 25 RBI. When the lineup was struggling, Ibanez was the guy who got the clutch hits to drive in runs.
Of course, Ibanez is far from the perfect hitter, but he gets the job done. His on-base percentage is a little low. He also strikes out a bit too much for my liking. Despite those flaws, he's still one of the better hitters on the team.
6. Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson leads the New York Yankees in home runs but is third in RBI. Something doesn't add up here and that something is Granderson's numbers with RISP.
12 of Granderson's 16 home runs are solo shots. With no one on base, Granderson is batting .273/.348/.636 with 12 RBI in addition to his 12 solo home runs.
With runners on, those numbers drop to .236/.375/.403 with four homers and 17 RBI. Sure his on-base percentage rises and he has more RBI, but he only has more RBI because there are runners on. It's easier to drive in runs when there are people on-base ahead of you.
Then with runners in scoring position, those numbers drop even more to .220/.373/.439 with three home runs and 15 RBI. When there are runners on, regardless of whether they're in scoring position or not, Granderson is more likely to take a walk than to swing.
His batting average drops, but his on-base percentage stays over .370. I want my leading home run hitter taking a swing and aiming for the fences rather than drawing a walk.
Granderson also strikes out a good amount. Compare his 57 strikeouts to his 29 walks. He's a good hitter and is rightfully celebrated for his power. When it comes to driving in runs however, Granderson's not exactly the best guy for the job.
5. Robinson Cano
The next two guys are interchangeable depending on your affinity for Robinson Cano or Nick Swisher. I blame Cano less because unlike Swisher, he didn't disappear for two weeks in May, but more on that later.
People were predicting that his was the year that Cano was finally going to break out and become the New York Yankees' most feared hitter. He's improved every year and the past two years seemed to be a preview of what he can do in his prime.
Everyone thought that this would be the year Cano hits 30 home runs and takes the mantle of most dangerous slugger away from Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod's done just about everything short of handing it to Cano in a pregame ceremony, but Cano hasn't lived up to the expectations.
He started slow and stayed that way until about two weeks ago when he got his average over .300. Now he's starting to slip again as his average currently sits at .286.
Like Curtis Granderson, Cano's not doing his job with RISP either. His average in those situations is .133 with one homer, 11 RBI and 13 strikeouts. Cano's not taking anybody's mantle with those numbers.
On the bright side, his power is starting to return as he's hit seven home runs in May with four of them coming in the past week.
4. Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher is currently the New York Yankees' leader in RBI. He's also got the worst on-base percentage in the lineup.
Swisher is known for two things: getting on base and talking to anything with a pulse. At least he's still the team's clubhouse guy. He has an OBP of .299, far from his career average of .358 and last season's .374.
When the Yankee hitters were struggling, Swisher was the guy who got on base and drove in runs. An injury put him on the bench for a few games, but he hasn't been the same ever since.
In a month his average has dropped 40 points, from .284 to .244. Swisher's on-base percentage has experienced a similar freefall, from .355 to .299.
The only reason Swisher is still leading the team in RBI is because he had such a strong April. He's only driven in nine runs in the month of May. When the Yankees needed Swisher's on-base skills and bat the most, he disappeared.
He's not the same patient hitter he was in past years. Rather than working the count, he's swinging at just about everything thrown at him. Swisher needs to get his on-base percentage up if he's going to help the Yankees reach the postseason.
3. Russell Martin
It's a little hard to blame the catcher who was brought in for his defensive skills, but everyone expected Russell Martin to bat over .200. I mean, the guy was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Martin is batting .187/.333/.333, numbers usually associated with a backup catcher, not the starting catcher of the New York Yankees. Then again, Yankee fans have been spoiled with Jorge Posada. Not to mention Yankee fans expected hitting prodigy Jesus Montero to take over for Posada.
But Martin is the guy behind the plate now, and Yankee fans are going to have to get used to a relatively light hitting catcher. That doesn't mean, however, that Martin can bat below .200.
I was debating where to put Martin on the list since not much was expected of him and he's still getting on base. But with his average as low as it is and him basically having little to no production in terms of runs or RBI, I had to put him at the third spot.
With a batting average of .187, he's pretty much a guaranteed out every game. The Yankees can't afford that when their offense struggles again.
2. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez misses the number one spot because of his high on-base percentage and his old age. People were expecting A-Rod to decline somewhat, but he's doing a good job of avoiding a drastic drop-off in production.
Despite not being the same hitter he was in 2008, let alone 2007, people are still expecting A-Rod to carry the team offensively. Whenever there's a RISP situation and he's at the plate, everyone still expects a home run. When that doesn't happen, he's booed like a Twilight fanatic at a Harry Potter convention.
For the longest time, Joe Girardi was adamant on keeping A-Rod in the cleanup spot despite his .167 average with runners in scoring position. Now A-Rod's batting third in an attempt to make use of his .370 OBP.
While that's fine and everyone's been yelling at Girardi to take him out of the cleanup spot, I'm not too keen on having a $30 million number three hitter. Still, as long as the team keeps on winning and scoring runs, I can't complain.
Anyway, A-Rod's number two on the list because of his salary and his low numbers with RISP. Even with runners just on base and not necessarily in scoring position A-Rod is batting .207/.320/.317 with three homers and 15 RBI. That's a far cry from his .343/.412/.510 line with no one on.
1. Mark Teixeira
Thanks to his abysmal start, Mark Teixeira has found himself at the top of this list. A nagging cough has bothered Teixeira for most of the season and he's slowly starting to turn things around.
Better late than never, but it would've been nice for him to start his rejuvenation last week when the New York Yankees couldn't score runs. He was so bad that Joe Girardi ended up dropping him to seventh in the batting order.
That seemed to light a spark in Teixeira as he's batting .458/.519/1.083 over the last seven days with four home runs and nine RBI. A week's worth of success doesn't overturn two month's worth of failure.
Like Alex Rodriguez, Teixeira is being paid a lot to drive in runs. The Yankees rely on him to hit home runs and rack up RBI. No one seemed to mind that Teixeira's average was dropping each season as long as he was getting those homers and RBI.
This season, however, Teixieira was doing neither and the fans started to turn on him. Whereas A-Rod has Father Time as a scapegoat, Teixeira doesn't really have much to blame expect for a cough, and that doesn't fly in the world of baseball.