New York Yankees Doing a Great Job Diversifying Offense
Through the first 14 games of this season, the Yankees smashed a club-record 27 home runs, the most in the Majors by a large margin, leading many to worry that they were relying too heavily on the long ball.
While I certainly didn't expect the Bombers to keep up the pace and break the Major League record of 264 homers (although 47 percent of respondents in an April 18 poll curiously believed that they would), I have been pleasantly surprised to see Joe Girardi insert a great deal of small ball into the offense.
The Yankees still lead baseball with 168 blasts (on pace for just 218, though), but they also rank second with 123 stolen bases (25 behind the Padres).
New York last led the American League in steals back in 1985, when Rickey Henderson collected 80 of their 155.
This year's team is on pace to best that mark by four, a stark contrast to Joe Torre's clubs from 1996 to 2007 that averaged just 114.
Brett Gardner is leading the way with 36 (second in the AL), followed by Curtis Granderson with 24, Eduardo Nunez with 19 (in just 85 games) and Derek Jeter with 13.
And despite their aggression, the Yankees aren't losing many outs on the basepaths. Their 76 percent steal rate is tops in the AL, right above the Rangers' 75 percent.
Remember, in last year's AL Championship Series, the Rangers stole nine bases and laid down three sacrifice bunts, while the Yanks stole only two bags and had just one sac bunt.
Maybe the Bombers learned something from that experience.
In 2010, they ranked just eighth in the league in steals and sac flies and 11th in sacrifice bunts. As noted earlier, they currently lead the AL in steals, rank third in sac flies and place seventh in sacrifice bunts.
Gardner had just five sac bunts last year, yet he already has eight in 2011 with more than a month left to play.
Even Granderson, who ranks second in baseball with 35 homers, has four sac bunts.
Everyone knew coming into this season that the Yankees offense would have to carry this team and its ragtag rotation, and even though the starting pitching has exceeded expectations, it will still be the potent lineup charged with beating Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in October.
It's nice to see the offense becoming multi-dimensional.
Follow me on Twitter @ JordanHarrison.
Jordan is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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