• The Angel Bugaboo

    Posted by on August 23rd, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Some theories via the L.A. Times yesterday –

    The Angels are 61-54 against the Yankees since 1996 the year Joe Torre became their manager — making them the only American League team with a record over .500 against them in that span. The teams met in the division playoff series in 2002 and 2005, with the Angels advancing both times.

    The Angels have won 21 of their last 32 meetings and are 12-7 in their last 19 games at Yankee Stadium. Mike Scoscia’s team took four of their six games in the Bronx this season, including three in a sweep in May. Torre couldn’t provide much of an explanation.

    “Even when they were not as good 10 years ago, they were a thorn in our side,” Torre said. “When I was managing the Cardinals, we couldn’t win in San Diego. Just one of those things. The Angels are one of those teams that seems to have the confidence because they’ve had success.”

    Torre noted that the Angels haven’t fared nearly as well against the Boston Red Sox, against whom they are 47-64 over the last 12 seasons.

    The Angels’ success when facing New York has not only transcended time, but also a shift in philosophy that Giambi noticed while playing for their divisional rival in Oakland.

    “They were kind of built like we are,” Giambi said. ” They had Jimmy Edmonds and [Tim] Salmon and J.T. [Snow]. They had power. They slowly made the transition to more of a defensive, hit-and-run, steal bags style.”

    The new style is one that Giambi said matches up well with the Yankees’ more power-centric approach and that Torre describes as “distracting.”

    “There’s no one in their lineup who won’t run,” Torre said.

    Added left fielder Hideki Matsui: “You get the feeling that they really study the Yankees. And they’ve assembled the talent to execute their game plans, particularly their pitchers. They don’t make mistakes. They don’t self-destruct.”

    Particularly at Angel Stadium, where the home team is 10-4 in their last 14 games of the series, including the playoff contests.

    Sure, the Angels’ record is 61-54 against the Yankees since 1996. But, from 1996 to 2005, it’s just 49-47. In the last two years, including this one, the Angels are 12-7 against the Yankees. Why?

    I heard Mike Scioscia on the radio the other day, on the X-M baseball show with Dibble and Kennedy, and he was talking about the importance of being able to go from first to third – – as the runner on third with less than 2 outs puts pressure on the pitcher, even the great ones, to stop the run from scoring.

    Then, I looked it up, and saw that the Angels have an OPS of .926 w/RISP against the Yankees this season. In 2006, it was .948 – whereas from 2002 through 2005, the Angels were not so good w/RISP against the Yankees.

    That’s been the key for Angels beating up on the Yankees in the last two years. They’ve been getting home those RISP.

    Comments on The Angel Bugaboo

    1. rbj
      August 23rd, 2007 | 1:51 pm

      ~the importance of being able to go from first to third~

      I.e., bad outfield arms that allow runners to go from first to third.

      It used to be that the Yankees would struggle in the Kingdome even when they were good and the Mariners downright gawdawful.

    2. August 23rd, 2007 | 5:41 pm

      It’s not just bad arms in the outfield though, some of it has to do with baserunning “smarts” and is not necessarily correlated to speed. For example, last night Hideki Matsui took third base on a single, even though the ball was hit to right field and his acknowledged cannon.

      I see what Steve is saying- and for more anecdotal evidence I turn to watching The Bronx Is Burning- the real clips of the 1977 Yankees, particularly the games which the Yankees won in the ALCS and World Series, show a couple of rallies. In these rallies, there are hits up the middle and it always shows Mickey Rivers or Willie Randolph or Greg Nettles rounding second and headed to third. The announcers (usually Cosell) do not show surprise when this happens. These days, if A-Rod takes third on a single to right field, he is immediately lauded for his baserunning smarts.

      Even Bill James pointed out that excellent (or very poor) baserunning is one factor that could cause a team to deviate from it’s Expected Winning Percentage. Going from first to third (especially with one or fewer outs) is a great example of this.

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