So what are the chances that some of the key Yankees in the batting order can turn things around and put together a great American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers?
What this piece will rate is each Yankee’s odds of breaking out with the series shifting to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 (and Game 5, if necessary). Specifically, the idea is to look for a player capable of breaking out the way Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson did in the 1977 World Series.
Jackson was benched by manager Billy Martin for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. It was Jackson’s first postseason as a Yankee and he got off to a dreadful start. He was just 1-for-14 through the first four games of the series. Jackson eventually got into Game 5 as a pinch-hitter for designated hitter Cliff Johnson in the eighth inning.
New York trailed 3-1 after seven innings and Jackson helped start a rally with a pinch-hit single off Royals reliever Doug Bird to score Willie Randolph and cut the deficit to 3-2. New York scored three in the top of the ninth and advanced to its second straight World Series with a 5-3 win.
From there, Jackson basically went nuts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Jackson hit .450 (9-for-20) in the six-game series, scored 10 runs, hit five homers, had eight RBI and had a ridiculous OPS of 1.792 in the series.
Here is a look at some struggling Yankees and their chances of going off Reggie-style for the remainder of the ALCS:
Nick Swisher does have two hits in eight ALCS at-bats after going 2-for-18 against the Orioles, but historically, Swisher has been awful in the playoffs. Including this season, he is a .167 hitter in the playoffs with four homers and seven RBI to go with 44 strikeouts in 150 at-bats.
Swisher also unloaded on the Yankee Stadium faithful after Game 2 on Sunday. At least his timing was good—he made his comments just as the Yankees were preparing to leave New York for a few days.
But Swisher has done absolutely nothing in his postseason career to lead anyone to believe he is capable of putting together a huge stretch of at-bats.
Alex Rodriguez is 3-for-23 in the postseason with no extra-base hits or RBIs and has struck out 12 times.
There are just two reasons to give Rodriguez any chance of turning these nightmare playoffs around.
One is the solid base hit he stroked off Detroit reliever Phil Coke in the ninth inning of Game 2 on Sunday. The other is memories of the 2009 postseason, when Rodriguez shook off three years of underachieving to hit.365 with six homers and 18 RBIs and finally winning his elusive first ring.
But Rodriguez has looked awful against right-handed pitching this postseason and Detroit’s starting rotation is entirely from the right side. That doesn’t bode well for the struggling A-Rod.
Curtis Granderson is having a miserable postseason, hitting just 3-for-26 (.115) with one homer—hit in Game 5 against the Orioles—and one RBI. Worse still are Granderson’s 14 strikeouts.
If this was the Curtis Granderson of 2007, the guy who hit .302 with 38 doubles, 23 triples and 23 home runs and had 26 stolen bases in 27 attempts for the Tigers, his chances of turning it around would be much higher.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, Granderson has undergone a significant metamorphosis since coming to New York in 2010. Specifically, Granderson has become a smaller, faster Adam Dunn.
While Granderson did hit 43 home runs, a career high, this season and drove in 106 runs, he also hit a career-low .232. He also managed just 18 doubles and four triples and stole a career-low 10 bases in 13 attempts. His 195 strikeouts were a career high and were the second-most in the American League, trailing only Dunn’s 222.
He doesn’t seem like the type of hitter capable of the consistency necessary to trigger a big turnaround.
Robinson Cano is a four-time All-Star, a lifetime .308 hitter and came into the 2012 postseason with a .258 career average in the playoffs.
Through Game 2 of the ALCS, Cano is mired in a historic slump. The second baseman doesn’t have a hit since Game 2 of the Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles and is 0-for his last 26 at-bats, the longest string of hitless at-bats in postseason history. For the playoffs, he is just 2-for-32 (.063) with four RBIs.
The cold stretch is particularly perplexing because of the way Cano ended the regular season. He hit in his last nine games and was 24-for-39 in that stretch—a sizzling .615 average—with three homers and 14 RBI.
Cano hit a career-high 33 home runs this season and his 48 doubles matched his best total. He hit .313/.379/.550, his fourth straight season with at least a .300 average and .500 slugging percentage.
Cano is typically a line-drive hitter who sprays the ball from foul line to foul line. In these playoffs, he has been pulling a lot of balls to the right side of the infield, a sign he’s not on breaking pitches.
If any Yankee is capable of an offensive explosion reminiscent of Reggie Jackson's, it is Cano.