While it tends to give off a Yankees-hater vibe, there’s one point in there that I tend to agree with:
Defensive efficiency is defined as the rate of which balls in play are converted into outs. That seems simple enough don’t you think? If my suspicions are right then I would expect us to see these numbers begin to dip after 2001 when the Yankees stopped advancing to the World Series regularly.
DEF EFF Rank
1996 .683 22
1997 .685 18
1998 .713 1
1999 .699 7
2000 .693 13
2001 .684 26
2002 .690 21
2003 .681 28
2004 .688 19
2005 .689 22
Data is rarely ever clear cut, but if we divide this data into two halves we can see a significant difference. The club won four World Series crowns in the first five years and averaged a 12.1 big league rank in the period. Even when you remove 1998 (after all, a lot has to go right for you to win 114 games) you can see that they were above average in three out of five seasons. The average rank in the final five seasons was 23.1. None of those seasons were above the big league average.
Defensive Efficiency Record is important. As I just shared the other day:
“In all seven of the postseason series in 2005, the team in each series with the better regular DER [Defensive Efficiency Record] won that postseason series.”
I’m not sure how the Yankees improve in DER this year, but, it’s something that they must do, if they hope to win a ring.
Maybe the key is getting guys like Crosby and Phillips in the field (in RF and at 1B) as soon as they have a decent lead and it’s after the 7th inning? Maybe it’s Damon doing better than Bernie in CF?
Then again, maybe it’s doing better with balls in the hole at short and up the middle?
Of course, there is a perfect answer to this – just don’t let the batters on the other team hit the ball. But, since the Yankees are pretty much a contact staff at this point, that’s not going to happen.