MLB Playoffs 2012: Key New York Yankees Players Who Need to Pick Up Their Game
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The Yankees have a plethora of struggling players, as one would expect from a team that is down two games to none and barely squeaked by the Baltimore Orioles. Highlighting four of these hitters will lend some perspective as to how bad things have been for the Yankees—and, perhaps more importantly, if things have the potential to improve at all for the remainder of the series.
As bleak as it looks, it's worth analyzing past performances to gain perspective on what we can expect from the Yankees moving forward into game three and beyond.
Robinson Cano is now 2-for-34 in the 2012 postseason, which is alarming enough. It's worse if you consider he's never been good in the postseason, anyway. For his career, Cano has a .226 batting average in 195 at-bats, and his slugging percentage is a paltry .431. Comparatively, he has a .308 career batting average and a career slugging percentage of .503.
The Yankees need Cano to step it up in the worst way, and there's really no reason to believe that will happen. He hasn't had a hit in his last five games, and the Yankees face Justin Verlander next. Cano has a career batting average of .226 against Verlander and has never homered against him.
It's not really surprising that Curtis Granderson has been awful in the postseason. He was awful all year. His batting average fell .30 from last season down to .232 and has continued to plummet further in the playoffs, as he is now just 3-for-29 from the plate.
Much like Cano, he has more than struggled against Verlander and has a career batting average of just .188 against him. Again, like Cano, there's little reason to expect improvement from a guy whose career has been on a steady decline the last few seasons.
Nick Swisher is just 4-for-26 after hitting .272 this season. He also has yet to hit a home run after banging 24 singers in the regular season. Unlike Cano and Granderson, Swisher has had success against Verlander and has a career batting average of .286 against him with seven runs batted in and three homers in 55 at-bats.
If any of these struggling Yankees sluggers are going to pick it up, it will be Swisher. But it will take more than Swisher hitting halfway decent for the men in pinstripes to pull this series off and find their way to the World Series.
Throwing out a brilliant Game 1 against the Tigers (a game the Yanks still lost), Ichiro has been nowhere near his usual brilliant self from the plate. He went hitless last game in four at-bats, and it was his third hitless game in the seven Yankees postseason games so far. For his career, he has a .352 batting average in the postseason but it appears now at age 38 that he is finally burnt toast. I guess that's hardly a bold declaration, but it needs to be said.
If these Yankees don't pick it up, it's pretty obvious the Tigers will be advancing to the World Series. It's an upset of pretty big proportions, as Bovada listed the World Series futures betting at 5/1 for the Yankees and 13/2 (or 6.5 : 1) for the respective teams on October 3. The writing may have been on the wall with so many aging players and guys whose best hitting never came in the postseason anyway. Maybe this is all too obvious, but Vegas oddsmakers didn't know…
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