Blame the Red Sox. The Yankees used to be the most loathsome team in baseball. They were so easy to hate for their big-spending ways and the oceans of ink spilled exalting Yankee heroes. They were the Evil Empire and everyone — Yankees fans included — liked it that way.
Now the Two Towers of Conspicuous Consumption loom over the baseball world together. The Red Sox and their travelling band of Lucky Charms caricatures seem to receive the bulk of the scorn from most fans while the forward-thinking Red Sox front office gets the begrudging admiration from neutral fans.
The Yankees Myth Manufacturing Plant gets mocked for non-stop Jeter churn and the non-stop hand wringing over the state of the rotation. Somewhere along the line we all seemed to forget the Yankees are really, really, good in 2011.
The sexy additions the Red Sox made and the incredible offensive output since their slow start to the season garnered them a great deal of coverage here on Getting Blanked. The Yankees just continued on, steamrolling opponents and racking up crazy offensive numbers of their own.
Concerns about the quality of the Yankees pitching are legitimate to a point. The offense has been so good, it almost doesn’t matter how well they pitch.
The Yankees feature a team wOBA of .377 over the last 30 days, more than 30 points higher than the closest team. To borrow a favorite trick of mine, the average Yankees hitter over the last month has basically been AL MVP candidate Ben Zobrist. One through nine, all Ben Zobrists. Consider some recent numbers of their everyday players:
- Curtis Granderson: .460 wOBA, 8 HR
- Robinson Cano: .423 wOBA, 5 HR
- Nick Swisher, .460 wOBA, 6 HR
- Mark Teixeira: .391 wOBA, 8 HR
- Derek Jeter: .373 wOBA…#DJ3k is still a thing (0 HR)
Only Russell Martin (5 HR), Brett Gardner (6 steals), are performing below the team average over the last 30 days. Even Jorge Posada has a .403 over his last 60 plate appearances! Oh, by the way, Alex Rodriguez rejoined the team from the disabled list this week, though he didn’t play last night.
The offense is carrying most of the weight while much of the worry surrounds the rotations. The bullpen and defense are quietly holding up more than their ends of the bargain. The Yankee pen is best in the AL by ERA , FIP and sits third in both shutdown to meltdown ratio and strikeout to walk ratio.
The defense isn’t among the league’s best but, for a veteran club that bashes pitching as it does, it holds up. River Avenue Blues wrote this week about the arm strength of the Yankees outfield, helping generate outs to make up for their relative lack of range. Any team with Brett Gardner in the outfield every day is doing something right.
While myself and many people like me picked the Red Sox to roll to the World Series as the Yankees finally succumbed to the ravages of age may not like it; the Yankees are not to be taken lightly this post-season. The starting pitching is an issue but this team isn’t one to worry too much about winning one 8-7 slugfest after another. The offense keeps them in every game and the bullpen — especially the back-end — will hold just about every lead it is handed. Be very afraid of these New York Yankees.