The Yankees are off to an underwhelming 5-5 start to the 2022 season and many fans have been left scratching their heads wondering who they should blame. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said during the offseason the team needed improvement and the Yankees managed to acquire Josh Donaldson and Isiah-Kiner-Falefa via trade and re-signed Anthony Rizzo. Those moves haven’t paid off thus far and now fans are split:
Half the fanbase thinks the Yankees’ lackluster offense is bad luck, while the rest chalks the .500 start to a mediocre roster. This is what happens when analytics are abused in baseball. No one knows who to blame or who’s deserving of credit.
After 10 games, the Yankees are averaging a measly three runs per game. That’s not going to get it done, even while the pitching staff dominates. Many Yankees fans believe manager Aaron Boone’s unwillingness to stick to one lineup has caused some of the inconsistencies we’ve seen. That may be true, but another stag is that the best players either don’t play or slot in unexplainable locations in their lineup. There’s just no rhyme or reason for certain players to be hitting where they are.
The most consistent offensive talent the Yankees had since 2017, DJ LeMahieu, slid down to fifth in a struggling offensive unit? Analytics did that. The geeks in that front office showed Aaron Boone a graph that proves using some obscure formula that doesn’t win games to convince him DJ LeMahieu is no longer worthy of his usual role at lead-off. Old school fans of baseball would use their common sense by noticing LeMahieu hit .327 in 2019, .364 winning the American League batting title in 2020, and then had a down 2021 nursing a sports hernia — clearly foreshadowing a bounce back 2022 yet the Yankees let a bunch of nerds in khaki cargo shorts with acne convince them OPS+ and wRC matter more.
Analytics are awesome when properly applied. They’re destroying the Yankees because boneheads populate that front office.
Take this garbage take as an example for how geeks are taking over. And not serviceable geeks, either. Nerds that never admit they’re wrong:
Joey Gallo is good at baseball pic.twitter.com/u7011HHLLk
— Will Cave (@WillCave) April 18, 2022
“Joey Gallo is good at baseball,” the tweet reads.
Gallo hit .160 for the Yankees last season with 13 home runs in his 228 plate appearances. He then followed that up with a 10-game 2022 appetizer hitting .138 in his 35 plate appearance somehow being homer-less and striking out 11 times. Anyone with a brain would look at those numbers or watching the games and say ‘he’s struggling so maybe we should look elsewhere for production?’ Analytics nerds can watch every inning of that performance and walk away convinced he’s a productive hitter. It’s a problem and the Yankees need to address it.
Last night’s Yankees lineup looked like this:
- Aaron Hicks
- Aaron Judge
- Josh Donaldson
- Giancarlo Stanton
- DJ LeMahieu
- Gleyber Torres
- Kyle Higashioka
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa
- Tim Locastro
Normally they’d plug Gallo in the five spot that serves as a human sink hole. Just an automatic out to follow Stanton, which obviously changes the way the 2017 NL MVP is pitched. But let’s discuss this lineup. Hicks is hitting .333 and is known by Yankees fans currently as being the hottest and arguably the most surprising hitter on the young season, so him at lead-off is acceptable. Aaron Judge earned his spot in the lineup based on his recent track record of MVP-level success. Donaldson plugged in at third is where the problems begin. The former MVP is batting .200, turned 37-years old this year, and isn’t a better hitter than two players hitting behind him in the lineup. Why? Analytics is the only explanation.
We move on to Giancarlo Stanton rightfully hitting fourth in the lineup followed by the most steady bat on the team: DJ LeMahieu. Penciling in your best contact hitter fifth is nothing short of unregulated lunacy. Any analytic that suggests this is a smart baseball move should lose all credibility. And last but not least, we’ll group Torres, Higashioka, Kiner-Falefa and Locatro as one: an abyss of unlimited outs. Zero contributions are coming from this group. And that’s an odd observation to make when the owner of the team, Hal Steinbrenner, suggested during spring training this team was a “title contender.” Keep dreamin’, Hal.
Yes, I’m aware there’s only so many ways you can polish a turd, but at some point the Yankees need to hire a manager that will hit their best players in order. Staggering talent to try and protect Stanton at the four spot is just stupid baseball no matter what any graph says. Want protection? Sign better players so the talent you do have can be properly deployed. We still expect this pitching staff to carry the bombers to a wildcard birth, at worst. But they can do so much better in the right hands. They should’ve never fired Joe Girardi. Turning away from old school mentalities was the Yankees’ undoing.