The Yankees have been clubbing a bunch of home runs and scoring a bunch of runs, but that doesn’t mean the offense has been without fault. As Larry’s pointed out a few times on Twitter, the offense isn’t working its way on base as frequently as we’re used to. And, as we’ve seen, most of the Yankee runs are coming from the home run. Granted, that will change as things even out and as the Yankees’ crazy low .242 BABIP corrects itself. Long term, I’m not worried about the offense.
Breaking it down on an individual level, there are concerns. Mark Teixeira has suddenly realized it’s April and his bat has quieted down after a torrid start, and the same goes for Jorge Posada. Derek Jeter, meanwhile, hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. With Tex, we’re less inclined to worry because we’ve been through this before and he’s young enough that we’ll call it a slump, not decline.
With Jeter and Posada, though, we’ve got to worry a bit. It’s only been nine games, so we can’t freak out. We can’t panic. We can’t make too much out of too little. This is not to say that there isn’t legitimate concern about each player. They’ve both played a whole lot in their careers and taken a lot of abuse. It is definitely possible that they’re finally in that decline phase.
Posada’s striking out over 30% of the time right now and Jeter has gotten the ball only 7 times (3 FB, 3 LD, 1 IFB) on balls he’s made contact on. Posada’s not exactly Joe DiMaggio up there in terms of not whiffing, but he’s only struck out over 25% twice in full seasons in his career. He does back it up with power, which is to be expected. As of right now, though, Jorge’s in a big slump and he’s not drawing many walks either (6.5%). Again, though, we’ve got to remember how early it is and how patient Jorge’s been in his career. He’s NEVER failed to reach a double digit walk rate at any time in his career. Give it another month and we’ll see where jorge’s numbers are.If they haven’t started to normalize, then he may be in trouble.
As for that last sentence, the same could go for Derek Jeter. He may look a bit lost at the plate right now (how late was he on Josh Beckett‘s fastballs on Sunday night?) and his range may look as bad as ever, but we’re still just nine games into the 2011 season. Let’s give Jeter a month, too, and see where he is.
Since I like offering predictions, I’ll give one. Of the two, I think Posada is the more likely to bounce back after the slow start. Is that an unfounded hunch? More or less. Posada is a better candidate for rebounding because his “old player” skills are more developed than Jeter’s are. Derek may walk his fair share and he’s not Brett Gardner up there in terms of power, but he has neither the on base skills nor the power of Jorge Posada. He’s always been a bit more batting average reliant and that might be his undoing. I’m not backing off what I said all off season: Derek Jeter will have a better season in 2011 than he did in 2010. Am I a little less confident in that statement? Sure, how could I not be? Jeter’s a mid-to-late-thirties shortstop who’s got a ton of mileage on him. He SHOULD be breaking down at this point. But, Jeter’s still been a pretty special talent with the bat and he can rebound.
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