New York Yankees: Baseball's Highest Scoring Offense Needs Improvement

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 28, 2011

Teammates Greet A-Rod
Teammates Greet A-RodGreg Fiume/Getty Images

The hated enemy, the Boston Red Sox, took over first place in the American League East division last night, pushing the New York Yankees into the unfamiliar position of being a second-place team.

Boston and New York are tied in the lost column. It's never too early to be aware of the lost column. The Yankees can make up the two wins by which they trail the Red Sox. Losses can never be made up.

Paradoxically, the Yankees' problem, as ridiculous as it sounds, is their offense.

They lead the league in runs scored with 253 and average 5.16 runs a game, which is excellent, but the concern is how and when they score.

About 50 percent of the Yankees' runs are result of the home run. The problem is that they score only about 50 percent of their runs without hitting a home run.

The first five batters in the Yankees lineup are solid, but Derek Jeter (.254/.308/.318) and Robinson Cano (.273/.312/.481) have been less productive than in the past.

The number six through number nine hitters' decreased production from past years has been less noticeable thanks to the fact that top of the order hitters have covered for them.

Curtis Granderson is having an outstanding season and has 16 home runs with a .620 slugging average. Mark Teixeira has hit 14 home runs. Alex Rodriguez is doing well as well, hitting .288 with nine home runs and a .500 slugging average.

Russell Martin, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner have tailed off. If the top five don't produce, the Yankees often are in trouble, especially when they fail to hit the long ball.

Joe Girardi recently kept Swisher out of the lineup to give him time to work with batting coach Kevin Long.

Last night against the Seattle Mariners, Swisher walked and singled to raise his batting average to an awful .206, but with the Yankees trailing by a run, Swisher took a called third strike leading off the ninth inning.

Swisher led off the ninth inning because in the eighth inning, with Swisher at bat, Eduardo Nunez stole second to put the potential tying run in scoring position with two outs.

That is the kind of baseball that wins games, but then Nunez was picked off second, which in inexcusable.

Nunez expressed remorse after the game.

"I feel bad. It's a big play in the inning," Nunez told MLB.com's Brian Holch. "The tying run is me. To get picked off, I feel so bad. It happens."

Overall, the Yankees have the most prodigious offense in the major leagues, but upon close examination, the Yankees have scored nine or more runs in a game seven times, which has accounted for 80 of their 253 runs.

The problem is that they have often have trouble scoring in low scoring games when one or two runs can turn the game around.

In the 4-3 loss last night, Yankees pitchers held the Mariners hitless in chances with runners in scoring position, but the Mariners scored all of their runs on ground ball outs.

The Yankees will make the playoffs, but in October, when they don't face the opposition's fourth and fifth starters, they must score playing "small ball" as well as getting some home runs, but hitting home runs in the playoffs is usually difficult.

Winning 15-3 and 12-1 is great, but it is winning 3-2 and 2-1 that produces world champions.

Ask the 1960 Yankees.

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