The Yankees' off-speed problem
When the pitch is not coming in fast, New York's production slows
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the 2011 New York Yankees knows they have one of the best offensive attacks in the league. They are edging out the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers for the most runs scored in baseball this season, and it's hard to find a true weakness in the lineup to exploit. The Yankees hit at home and on the road, against lefties and righties, against fly-ball pitchers and ground-ball pitchers. With apologies to the late great Dr. Seuss, this team would score runs in a box, with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.
Looking at the pitch-by-pitch stats against the Yankees on FanGraphs, however, tells a story of a lineup with a weakness this season. The Bronx Bombers have been the best team in baseball this year at hitting fastballs, generating 81 more runs of production against fastballs than the average team. Only five teams in baseball are even 20 or more runs better than average against fastballs this season, so that 81 is a pretty impressive number. But the Red Sox and Rangers, who are also very good fastball-hitting teams this year, also have more balance. For example, the Red Sox and Rangers rank second and third in baseball against changeups. Against changeups and curveballs, the Yankees are a combined seven runs below average, a relatively weak performance for a team that is leading baseball in runs scored.
For a full breakdown of the Yankees' trouble against off-speed stuff, and why this could be a problem come October, become an ESPN Insider today.