The offense of the New York Yankees has not put up more than four runs in almost two weeks. The team formerly known as the Bronx Bombers have put up two-or-fewer runs seven times in that same span. The Yankees per-game run output is equal to that of their neighbors in Queens, the New York Mets, whose offensive struggles have been well documented. Worse for the Yankees, the Mets’ struggling offense has done that without the benefit of a designated hitter. The trouble has been familiar, as the team is failing in many of the same ways as last season.
In 2013, the Yankees scored 650 runs in 162 games, an average of 4.02 runs per game. The team finished 16th in runs scored, crossing the plate more than 200 times fewer than their division rival and the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox. As a result, the Yankees did what they do, spending big money to help fix the offense. Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury were all signed to large deals. Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson were also brought in to start. The result is that through 62 games this season, the team has scored 249 runs, once again an average of 4.02 run per game.
Some consideration must be given to the loss of Robinson Cano, but considering the completely miraculous contribution Yangervis Solarte has made to the team that is probably a wash. The Yankees should really be faring much better than they are with the additions they made, leading to questions over the source of their problems. One oddity is that so far the Yankees are faring much better on the road, where they are over .500, than at home, where they are below. They are also scoring more runs on the road, in spite of new Yankee Stadium being a slightly favorable hitter’s park annually. The league conditions are not much different, with teams overall scoring about the same as they were in 2013, and Yankee Stadium keeping a slight tilt towards hitters this year.
If New York were able to maintain their road scoring rate at home, they would bump all the way up to 11th in the majors in offense from 19th. However, that differential has more to do with the quality of opponents. Excluding teams they have played both at home and on the road (Boston, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs), the Yankees average home opponent has been a tougher pitching staff than their average road opponent. That includes a home series with MLB’s number one pitching staff Oakland Athletics, in which the Yankees scored eight in three games.
Since it appears that the Yankees have been just plain bad, no matter their surroundings, possible extraordinary factors like the weather can be set aside. What it all simmers down to is that New York is yearning for good hitting from many of the same positions as last year, including catcher, second base, and right field. Frustratingly, all three of those positions were addressed in free agency, somewhat at the expense of re-signing Cano at second. Beltran and McCann just have not delivered, each batting in the low .200’s with limited power and few walks.
Jacoby Ellsbury has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters of late, and Solarte just refuses to turn back into the limited use utility player everyone thought he would be by now. However, if the Yankees continue to operate a lineup with three or four holes in it on a daily basis, they will never turn the offense around. Beltran and McCann must get going, because the climb to the top of the division is getting longer every day.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball
Member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America