• Power Bats(?) In Yankees Outfield

    Posted by on July 30th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Check out these stats covering the period June 26, 2009 through July 28, 2009:

    Johnny Damon: 102 PA and a BA/OBA/SLG of .221/.343/.395
    Melky Cabrera: 92 PA and a BA/OBA/SLG of .288/.370/.400
    Nick Swisher: 92 PA and a BA/OBA/SLG of .240/.359/.413

    As a team, during this period, the Yankees had an overall SLG mark of .482 (in 1,100 PA). And, New York went 21-7. Hey, thank goodness for that slugging infield and DH, right?

    Comments on Power Bats(?) In Yankees Outfield

    1. thenewguy
      July 30th, 2009 | 1:08 am

      Eh.

      That’s a decent line for Melky, and Johnny and Swish both have double digit RBI and BB totals. Damon has been disappointing this month for sure, but Swisher only slightly. Melky has been fine in my book, and we never expected power from him.

      It’s certainly nothing to worry about, and I’m sure Swish and Damon will get some of their power back shortly. Maybe Damon needs his eyes checked again.

    2. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2009 | 5:18 am

      Gee, you mean even good teams have strengths and weaknesses, instead of being strong at every position in the lineup, all 5 rotation slots, and the top 3-4 bullpen slots?

      You mean, even an good team, or even a unit on a team, can have a weak stretch of play for awhile? You know, like how the Red Sox have hit about .240/.323/.404 as a team this month?

      The Yankee outfield would’ve helped the Red Sox offense this last month, with Bay, Ellsbury and Drew all slumping to one extent or another

      Bay: .203/.396/.319; Ellsbury: .278/.310/.405; Drew: .192/.292/.333

      And just for funsies, the season’s totals in OPS+

      Bay: 123, Ellsbury: 90; Drew: 103

      vs.

      Damon: 125, Melky 107 (heck, even Gardner is still at 99), Swisher 120

      Well, wouldja you lookit that, the 3 Yankee OF all have better relative OPS than their Sox counterparts.

      Oh, well, OPS isn’t really real, the Sox’ OF trio must be outproducing the Yanks in real runs on the scoreboard, right? Well, yes…and no.

      The Sox’ trio has 168 runs scored, and 147 RBI, for 315 “half-runs”. The Yanks’ OF has 160 runs, and 145 RBI, for only 305 “half-runs”. However the Sox group has almost 100 more plate appearances. So per plate appearance, the Yanks OF has produced runs at a better rate.
      ==================================================
      Now, am I really arguing that the Yankee OF is better than the Sox OF. No, not really. For one thing, the Sox are better defensively in center (vs. Melky) and in right. For another, the Melky and Swisher are producing about as well as can be expected, not likely to improve much.

      Melky had a long slump after a fast start, just like he did last year, and the year before, though he has picked it up lately. Swisher hasn’t approached his hot April in the last 3 months. Even Damon has cooled off after a very hot start.

      Context is critical. You have to look at the context. It might be tough to see through the haze, but you have to try, or you’re abusing statistics, not using them to learn.

    3. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2009 | 5:28 am

      …and here’s a 2nd way to look at it…

      Here’s one simple minded measure: I just added the OPS+ scores for the 3 starting outfielders for each team. Where players split time at one or more of the slots, I calculated a weighted average (even though that doesn’t really work with OPS, I wasn’t going to spend all night on this) for the primary players sharing the slot. Here are the OPS+ totals for the AL’s outfields, from lowest to highest:

      14. Detroit: 267 (Anderson/Raburn/Granderson/Ordonez)
      13. Kansas City: 268 (Dejesus/Crisp/Guillen)
      12. Toronto (!): .276 (Bautista/Lind/Wells/Rios)
      11. Chicago: 301 (Podsednik/Quentin/Anderson/Dye)
      10. Tampa Bay (!!): 304 (Crawford/Upton/Gross/Burrell)
      9. Minnesota: 309 (Young/Span/Gomez/Cuddyer)
      8. Oakland: 313 (Holliday/Sweeney/Cust/Davis)
      7. Boston (!!!): .319 (Bay/Ellsbury/Drew)
      6. Cleveland: 320 (Francisco/Sizemore/Choo)
      5. Seattle: 326 (Balentien/Chavez/Gutierrez/Suzuki)
      4. Orioles: 329 (Pie/Reimold/Jones/Markakis)
      3. Texas: 351 (Murphy/Byrd/Jones/Cruz), if you use Hamilton, it goes DOWN, as he’s had a miserable, injury plagued season, anyway on to the top 3: 2.Yankees (!!!!): 352 (If you weight Gardner in, it drops to 349, and the Yanks drop behind Texas, but if you weight Hamilton in, the Yanks are about even.)
      1. Far and away the best OF outfield in the league this season, the dread Angels: 392 (Rivera/Hunter/Abreu)

      As a quick check, Baseball Reference offers league adjusted OPS+ by position on each team’s batting splits page. I tripled the numbers listed under “As Outfield” to put it in the same context as the numbers listed above:

      Here are the rankings, in reverse order again:

      14. Kansas City: 249
      13. Detroit: 270
      12. Oakland: 273
      11-10 (tied). Chicago and Toronto: 279
      9. Minnesota: 300
      8. Seattle: 303
      7. Texas: 306
      6. Cleveland: 315
      5-4 (tied) Baltimore and Tampa Bay: 318
      3. Angels: 327
      2. Red Sox: 336
      1. Yankees: 339

      So by this measure, the Yanks actually have one of the top 3 offensive outfields in the AL. (The reason why the Yanks do better in this measure than the first one is that they havn’t had to run any complete stiffs out there in the 4th and 5th OF slots, both Gardner and Hinke are better than their counterparts on other teams, and also, until Gardner’s broken thumb, the Yanks hadn’t had any key injuries to their outfield this season.)

    4. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2009 | 5:34 am

      But hey, we aren’t talking production, we’re talkin’ power, right?

      OK, so here from the Baseball-Reference batting splits page, are the isolated power (SLG minus BAVG) numbers for each team’s outfield squad, again, in reverse order:

      14-13 (tied). Seattle and Kansas City: .126
      12: Oakland: .133
      11. Chicago: .152
      10. Minnesota: .158
      9. Tampa Bay: .160
      8. Angels: .161
      7. Detroit: .163
      6. Toronto: .164
      5. Baltimore: .172
      4. Cleveland: .179
      3. Boston: .185
      2. Yankees: .192
      1. Texas: .205

      So here, once again, the Yanks show they have one of the most power-laden outfields in the league.

    5. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2009 | 5:54 am

      No, no, no, con-sarn it, I mean power!!

      Just gimme the dang-blasted HR totals for the outfields:

      OK, Sam, from the same Baseball Reference team Batting Split pages, here they are, yet again in reverse order:

      14. Kansas City: 19 (That’s right, 19 HRs from their OF in about 100 games)
      13. Seattle: 27
      12: Oakland: 28
      11. Tampa Bay: 32
      10. Minnesota: 33
      9. White Sox: 36
      8. Toronto: 37
      7. Detroit: 38
      6. Angels: 39
      5. Baltimore: 42
      4. Boston: 43
      3. Cleveland: 44
      2. Yankees: 46
      1. Texas: 50

      Well, there it is again, the Yanks outfield, rather than being weak, again rates as one of the stronger ones in the league.

      Now, you can say these last two posts are not adjusted for the new Yankee Stadium Launch Pad, but the first two OPS+ stats are. All four measures show the same thing: that the Yankee outfield, perceived by its own fans as being very weak, is still one of the top 3 offensive outfields in the league.
      ====================================
      OK, what do I think is really happening in the minds of the fans? Simply this: while this Yankee OF squad is strong compared to the other squads in the league, it is nowhere near the team’s own squads of the last several years with the bat. Let’s take, oh, 2004 as an example: this year’s OF is dwarfed by the trio of Matsui/Williams/Sheffield. Even last year’s squad was stronger with Damon/Melky/Nady/Abreu.

      It is this comparison to the team’s own recent past that makes the fans think this is a weak offensive outfield. There have been a lot of great teams with great outfields. It’s certainly an asset, but it’s not a guarantee (think Rice/Lynn/Evans, or Bell/Moseby/Barfield, or Henderson/Murphy/Armas or Griffey, Sr./Henderson/Winfield, etc., etc.

      Yanks could’ve added another big-time OF in the off-season; but then they wouldn’t have CC, or they wouldn’t have AJ, or they wouldn’t have Tex. Which way would they be better off?

      Finally, I’m sure the Yanks could upgrade on Swisher if they chose to. Again, the question must be asked: at what price? What prospects are you willing to surrender to entice the Nationals to deal Willingham, or Dunn? To get the Orioles to send Luke Scott within the division. Are you willing to give up Joba or Hughes to get Choo from the Indians or Hart from the Brewers, if you think those teams are willing to trade young, cheap players to the Yanks? Do you think the Yanks could ever pry Sizemore from the Indians or Ichiro from the Mariners?

      What price would you pay?
      ==================================
      And now, I’m tired again, and going back to sleep.

    6. Rich
      July 30th, 2009 | 8:18 am

      Nice job, Evan.

    7. YankCrank
      July 30th, 2009 | 9:15 am

      Damn Evan, good work on all of that.

    8. July 30th, 2009 | 9:41 am

      All that work at 5 am Evan? Please tell me your a west coast dude. ;-)

    9. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2009 | 9:57 am

      Summer vacation.

      Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t get back to sleep right away. So I surf online until I get tired again.

      And, if the mood strikes me, I get on my little soapbox, and post a few too many words on something or other.

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