The Yankees bats finally began to break out in June but their win/loss record on the month wasn’t much different from how it had been in May. We’ll see to what degree the pitchers were responsible for that in our next article. In the meantime let’s survey the batters and see who was responsible for a month that saw them surge to a .278 BA on the month against May’s .232 and .424 SLG against the previous month’s .385.
A few months ago I talked in this column about two perils that the Yankees faced in the 2016 season. The first possibility was that the senior players would prove to be well past their sell-by date and would under-perform. The second possibility was that although those senior players would perform, they would be laboured by injury. In reality, I overlooked the third possibility – that they would under-perform AND carry injuries.
In an earlier article. I pessimistically asserted that I saw similarities between the Yankees squad of 2016 and that of 1989. The 1989 team finished 5th in the American League East. That was pre-expansion when there were 7 teams in the division. Consequently, that would mean that it was likely that the Yankees would finish 4th or 5th in the 5-team division and be well out of contention.
However, there were a few positive signs in Spring Training which gave me pause for thought. And then the real season began…
(up to and including March 16th)
Spring training hasn’t brought any huge revelations for the Yankees – no huge “ups” but, thankfully, no huge “downs”. This is not to say that things have gone entirely to plan or that Training has been easy. Of their first 15 games, they won 5, lost 8 and saw 2 games called at a tie. 17 players were reassigned but of those only Jacob Lindgren and perhaps Matt Tracy had much hope of making the 25 who would see service on Opening Day. And there have been no players breaking down to major injuries and only Brett Gardner suffering a major delay to his first appearance because of prior ailments.
Well, that is in the little bit of October the Yankees were actually involved in this year. They made it to the playoffs but only by wildcard qualification. And then in the one-game wildcard playoff, they failed to produce a single run in their game against the Houston Astros. Let’s look at what went wrong… and one or two things that went right and look bright for the future.
What: The New York Yankees vs the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays
When: 7th September to 13th September 2015
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Stood outside Yankee Stadium on the 10th of September as the rain begins to gently fall, you realise that perhaps this is not going to go to plan. When the series with the Orioles had opened and a Yankees win meant that the lead that Toronto had in the American League East was cut back to half a game, the world seemed filled with optimism. Even when Baltimore took the next two games, things hadn’t seemed so bad – results elsewhere had gone in the Yankees favour. And after all, one and a half games behind doesn’t look so bad when the team ahead of you is just about to arrive in town for four games and anything could happen.
Let’s consider some figures:
What do they represent? Well, unsurprisingly for this column, they represent the monthly team batting averages for the New York Yankees for every month prior to August. The top one on the list is July, the bottom is April. June and May come inbetween and reveal the way that the Yankees’ batting had improved every month this season – that is until August, the month when their batting performance fell apart. Let’s see where the disaster had its roots:
In June, the New York Yankees’ bats caught fire, rising from a .249 team monthly batting average to .273. In July, against all expectations, they managed to maintain that and take it a little further with small gains in batting, slugging and on-base average.
Across the team, the bats are giving the pitchers that little extra breathing space and run support, resulting in a 17-7 month and a six-game lead in the American League East.
At the end of May, the Yankees were tied for first place in the American League East. By the 9th of June they were 2.5 games clear at the head of that table. By the 23rd, they were 2 games behind. As June turned into July, they were poised to take the lead in the division again.
June was a mixed month for the New York Yankees. June was a very streaky month for the New York Yankees.
April 2015 was a bizarre month for the New York Yankees. They started with a 3-6 record and were bottom of the table. From there, they sprinted to 10 wins out of their next thirteen games, ending April one game ahead of the American League East and setting a pace which meant they should then relentlessly open up a gap ahead of all-comers.
And indeed, by the 11 of May with 8 wins out of their next 11 games, they opened up a 4 game lead. Journalists, experts and pundits were staggered as the Yankees’ bullpen and offense led them to performances that were far beyond anything that was predicted or anticipated — or even imagined by the most rabid fan.
And then the team returned quietly to the form of the early weeks of April as they crumbled against opposition from outside the division. The four game lead disappeared as they won 5 of their next 18 games. Will the real New York Yankees please stand up?