4 Startling Statistics from the New York Yankees' Season Thus Far
The New York Yankees have certainly had their share of ups and downs in the first half of 2013.
In spite of numerous injuries to key players, as well as their replacements, the team has somehow managed to remain in the AL East race.
Last season's squad won the most games in the American League (95) and reached the ALCS where they fell to the Detroit Tigers.
A look at this year's version of the "Bombers" reveals a much different team than the 2012 club and, more specifically, shows four startling statistical contrasts to last season.
This article will take a look at those differences.
Disabled List Money
It is no secret that the very reason the Yankees of 2013 look so different than the teams of the past decade lies in who sits on the disabled list.
With Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli and Derek Jeter all on the DL, the team fields backup players at the majority of positions on a daily basis.
The $81.1 million that the Yankees have on the disabled list represents 35.5 percent of the team's total payroll and exceeds the total payroll of nine MLB teams. It is 20 times the amount of payroll that division rival Tampa Bay currently has on its DL.
The second half of the season should see the return of "A-Rod", Granderson and Cervelli. Jeter returned to action on July 11th but suffered a quad injury on his third trip to the plate. It remains to be seen if the Yankees captain will return to the DL for a third time in 2013.
It was last September when Yankees manager Joe Girardi quipped, "We aren't the Bronx Bunters," in response to suggestions that the team take more of a "small ball" approach.
Times have changed.
With all of the injuries the team has endured and the departures of Russell Martin, Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez, the Yankees no longer have explosive power in their lineup.
As a result, Girardi has had to adjust the team's style of play.
In 2012 the Yankees had a total of 31 sacrifice bunts. They ranked 26th in MLB in that category.
Through July 11, 2013, the team has laid down 25 SAC. That ranks 16th in MLB and is on pace to blow by last year's total in August.
Credit Girardi with recognizing the need to change the club's attitude at the plate to match the current lineup's skill set.
The Yankees "Achilles heel" for the past few seasons has been their ability to hit with runners in scoring position.
This season is no different.
What is different about this season lies not with their average with RISP, but with their production in that category.
In spite of only hitting .256 with RISP in 2012, the Yankees still ranked seventh in MLB with 515 RBI in that scenario. Even though they weren't getting the hits, they were at least getting the runners home. That was further evidenced by the fact that they only had the 17th-most strikeouts with RISP in 2012. Simply put, they were getting the ball in play.
The same does not hold true in 2013.
Even though their batting average is nearly the same (.251), their rate of producing runs with men in scoring position has dropped significantly.
They currently rank 16th in MLB with 258 RBI and have the seventh-most strikeouts with RISP.
They aren't getting the ball in play.
The team hopes its fortunes change in the second half with the return of some of its stars. If the Yankees don't change their fortunes, the team will not be playing in October.
Statistics and ranks courtesy of MLB.com
The fourth and fifth spots in any batting order are normally reserved for a team's power hitters and occupied by players who will give "protection" to the hitter batting third (usually a team's best hitter).
Until 2013, the Yankees of the past five years gave their "three hitter" plenty of protection with the likes of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada or Curtis Granderson.
This year's squad doesn't have the luxury of putting players like those in the four or five spots of the lineup.
The difference in production is dramatic.
As the graphic above shows the Yankees' No. 4 hitters were in the top 10 of MLB, hitting .283 in 2012. They rank 28th this season.
The No. 5 hitters have experienced a dramatic drop in production as well. Last season they ranked 15th in MLB with a .255 average and 35 HR. This season they are dead last with a microscopic .192 batting average and only 30 RBI.
For the Yankees' best hitter—Robinson Cano—this means a league-leading 14 intentional walks. Pitchers have no fear of the hitters behind him in the lineup.
Unless those two spots in the Yankees order are addressed, the team cannot hope for a playoff berth this year.