Playing Patience or Panic on New York Yankees' 5 Worst Early Slumps
Early-season stats can be deceiving.
Early slumps at the plate and on the mound can be frustrating for fans who were hoping to see their team start well out of the gate, which is why so many fans overreact when a player is hitting below .200 after the first week of the year.
New York Yankees fans are no exception.
With so many new faces on the Yankees this season, fans were looking for a fresh wave of success out of spring training. Spring camp brought many good results, and that left fans with hope.
But instead of seeing Brian McCann carry the lineup in the first week, fans have seen Yangervis Solarte lead the team in batting average and RBI.
There are signs for several players that would suggest that their early lines are nothing to worry about. There are a few players worth panicking over, however.
Let's play "panic or patience."
2014 Stats: 1-1, 7.50 ERA, 12.0 IP, 15 H, 10 ER, 3 HR, 12 SO, 1 BB, .294 BAA
This is not the start that Yankees fans wanted to see from CC Sabathia, especially after his terrible 2013 campaign.
There's something a bit off with him—aside from the loss of velocity that everyone loves to obsess over. He doesn't have that same bite on his slider that he has in years past. He continues to miss away from righties with his changeup. It doesn't appear as if he's following his pitches all the way through.
Even still, I still find it hard to panic about him just yet. He's a notoriously slow starter. In 63 career starts in March/April, Sabathia owns a 4.15 ERA—his highest for any month other than July (4.18). The 7.50 ERA he currently sports is obviously a result of a small sample size.
May and June are kind to Sabathia, as he has career ERAs of 3.47 and 3.68, respectively. If he can follow up his April with two months like that, he should put most of his doubters to bed.
2014 Stats: 1-1, 8.68 ERA, 9.1 IP, 16 H, 9 ER, 1 HR, 4 SO, 5 BB, .432 BAA
Ivan Nova's poor start is mostly a result of his terrible outing against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He lasted just 3.2 innings and allowed seven runs to a deep Orioles lineup.
He has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. He shows flashes of dominance at times, but he also shows signs of not knowing what he's doing on the mound. He makes bad pitches in hitter's counts when he isn't going well, and any major leaguer will capitalize on a ball that is left high in the zone.
Boasting one of the better curveballs in the division, Nova will often go to the hammer as his out pitch. When it doesn't have the sharp break he expects, however, hitters crush it all over the yard.
Nova tends not to get going until the summer months of June, July and August, so Yankees fans might have to wait until then to see him string together quality starts.
2014 Stats: .192/.276/.346, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 7 K, 1 BB
Alfonso Soriano is one of the streakiest hitters in baseball, so it shouldn't be too surprising to see him start on the wrong end of a hot streak. He'll have his hot streaks during the year, but I'm not convinced that they'll even out the bad ones like they did in 2013.
He isn't big on batting average or on-base percentage. He might maintain his current OBP mark all year, and his average might not climb past .230. As a primary contributor in the middle of a lineup that desperately needs consistency, those marks aren't ideal.
A major drop-off from last season is realistic for Soriano. He's 38 years old, and last season's great numbers were a result of a lengthy hot streak to close the season. That lengthy hot streak could have simply been a product of his rejuvenation to be back in pinstripes.
I don't think Soriano will be a total loss this season, but I'm worried about his production in the long run.
2014 Stats: .172/.200/.172, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 4 K, 1 BB
This isn't the start to Brian McCann's Yankees career that he would have liked.
He has been pretty much non-existent at the plate. He isn't showing good patience or displaying the power that he is known for. He's not a guy that's going to hit .300, but you can generally expect something in the .260 to .270 range come season's end.
The pitching staff will benefit from having him calling the shots behind the dish. He's a great signal-caller and knows how to put his pitchers in advantageous situations on the mound. This is why the Yankees made it a point to scoop him up rather quickly this offseason.
The offensive aspect of his game will come around. His left-handed, fly-ball swing translates perfectly to Yankee Stadium. He'll probably finish the year with 25-plus homers and 80-plus RBI with an average somewhere in the aforementioned range.
Don't worry about him just yet.
2014 Stats: .174/.345/.174, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 7 K, 6 BB, 2 SB
Yankees fans collectively hold their breaths when Brian Roberts swings, runs or so much as touches a baseball. Even the most casual fan knows about his extensive injury history.
Given the fact that he appears healthy right now, fans are now resorting to picking on his stat line. Sure, hitting .174 to open the season with a new team isn't ideal, but I'm excited about his .345 OBP. He leads the team with six walks and has compensated for his inability to get hits.
Roberts has also added a little more speed and base-running skills to the lineup. He doesn't have Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury speed, but he's an extraordinarily smart baserunner who picks his spots well. This type of veteran know-how makes him an important member of this team.
The batting average is a bit concerning, but as long as he continues to get on base, I'll be fine with it—for now.
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