The New York Yankees Are in Trouble Even If They Win the AL East
Halfway through the month of July, the New York Yankees looked like they were going to run away with the AL East title. As October baseball officially begins tomorrow, however, that division crown has become anything but a certainty.
The Yankees are currently locked in a dog fight with Buck Showalter's Baltimore Orioles for the division and a guaranteed spot in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Even if the Yankees manage to secure the division title, they have shown that they will still be in trouble when the playoffs begin.
Put Too Much Stock in Home Runs
Curtis Granderson leads the Yankees with 40 HRs
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Once again, the New York Yankees lead the MLB with 235 home runs. That's 27 more than the next team on the list (Baltimore). While the Bronx Bombers may shine in the HR category, they are very average across the rest of the board.
Their propensity for hitting home runs skews their RBI and slugging percentage numbers in their favor. Other important hitting categories show just how much the Yankees depend on homers for runs though.
They currently have a team batting average of .262, good for sixth in the American League. They're also currently sixth in doubles.
A serious lack of speed on the base paths becomes evident when you consider the fact that the Yankees rank 12th in the AL in stolen bases and last in triples.
One may argue that if the long ball is enough to win the AL East, it should be enough to make a deep playoff run. The fact of the matter, however, is that the rotations in the postseason are the best in the game.
It's not impossible to go yard on opposing teams, but if that's all you've got, you won't be in it for long.
Don't Hit with Runners in Scoring Position
The Yankees are one of the worst teams in baseball in terms of hitting with RISP
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From Reggie Jackson to Derek Jeter, New York Yankee World Series runs are synonymous with clutch performances. This year's Yankee team, however, doesn't seem to be able to get a hit in a pivotal moment.
More alarmingly, when the bases are loaded, the Yankees are only hitting .235. It's not very often that an opposing pitcher in the playoffs will let you load the bases. When it does happen, it is pivotal that the hitters get a big hit and push some runs across.
Holding out for a Hero
The Yankees need one of their stars to step up in the postseason
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It may seem to some Yankees fans like all of their stars have been slumping for weeks. They wouldn't be far off.
The Yankees have not seen consistent production from any of their "core" players in a while. Robinson Cano, who at one point seemed on pace for an MVP season, has since fallen off. His average has hovered around .300 for a while now, but he hasn't been producing like Yankee fans have recently become accustomed to.
Derek Jeter has been the best hitter for the Yankees all season, but when the postseason comes, can he be relied on to carry the team? He'll get on base, but he's going to need someone to bring him home.
Alex Rodriguez has struggled since coming off of the disabled list, and no one knows exactly what to expect from Mark Teixeira when he gets back.
Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Nick Swisher have recently shown signs of life, but the Yankees need consistent star power to get deep into the playoffs.
Don't Know What to Expect from the Starting Rotation
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The return of Andy Pettitte to the Yankees' starting pitching rotation can be huge for the Bronx Bombers. He has been impressive in his first few starts since returning from the DL.
Everybody knows that the Yankees could trust Pettitte in the postseason. Nobody would have guessed that Hiroki Kuroda would be the most reliable starter in the rotation.
CC Sabathia, the staff ace, has not had a very good year. He looked especially shaky after an elbow injury forced him to miss a few starts. His last few starts have been better, but it remains to be seen how he'll hold up in the brisk night air that accompanies the playoffs.
Phil Hughes will round out the rotation with an ERA of 4.23, not a number that will scare opposing batters. The best ERA on the staff, besides Pettitte's, who missed half of the season, belongs to Kuroda, a 3.34.