See the Yankee game yesterday?

If you didn’t, here’s what you missed.  And if you did catch the game, here’s what the Simpleton Summer Camp crew over at the YES network didn’t tell you.  In no particular order:

As I posted on social media prior to the game, despite the absurd extent of injured players, the Yankees still put a pretty good lineup on the field.  That being said, in spite of all the criticisms of the Yankees in general and Brett Gardner in particular not using their speed to their advantage, the Yankees still set their lineup so speed can’t really be used.  It’s too expansive to get into fully in this space, but again, good base stealers should bat between 5th and 7th in the lineup.  (Anyone who played Strat-O-Matic as a kid could tell you this.  Or you can read Tom Tango’s extensive work on this if you’d like.)  Batting a good base stealer 1st, 2nd or 3rd is generally a waste of a skill set, as running is too much of a risk when your best power hitters are coming up.  When batters 6 through 9 are due up (generally, batters more likely to slap ground balls and soft liners than hit it over the wall) being on 2nd base is FAR more valuable than being on 1st, and therefore attempting to steal is often worth the risk.  So with regards to yesterday’s lineup, Gardner should have batted 5th instead of 3rd, and Tyler Wade should have batted 7th instead of 9th.  And don’t come at me with Rickey, Raines, or Ichiro.  Those were hitting and OBP machines that you need at the beginning of the lineup despite their speed, not because of it.  Gardner, Wade, and Ellsbury before them, are not Rickey, Raines, and Ichiro.

Speaking of slap hitters that bat 6th through 9th…if Gio Urshela can avoid chasing pitches outside the zone he’ll be a valuable player, given his defensive skill set.  My recollection of Urshela with Cleveland was that he’d swing at everything, but since being with the Yankees seems to have shown a good eye.  If you’ve read my stuff before, you know I don’t trust my eyes, so I checked.  (Also, let this be a reminder, that if I don’t trust my own eyes, that should tell you what I think when you tell me I’m wrong because of your “eye test”.)  With Cleveland, Urshela had a chase rate of over 41% over two seasons.  In 46 plate appearances with Toronto, then since joining the Yankees, his chase rate has dropped to around 33%.  Matt Carpenter he isn’t, but he can be valuable if he continues to improve in this regard.

Aaron Boone made the right move with Paxton yesterday in getting him out of the game just past the 100 pitch count.  As I’m writing this, I don’t have access to what the win probability was at the time, but I’d bet an Ellsbury insurance check it was over 90%, and therefore there’s no need to have Paxton in the game.

But just because the right move was made, doesn’t mean things always work out.  Sometimes you hit on 15 and you get a 10 – it happens, doesn’t mean it was a bad move.  Baseball is very hard.  Chad Green and Adam Ottavino are very good pitchers but will have very bad days.  And don’t be distracted by “KC” – the Royals have guys who can hit and get paid well to do so.

Regarding Green:  He hasn’t looked good this season, but yesterday he gave up a pop-up and a ground ball that are outs 92% and 65% of the time respectively (yes, I checked).  So I don’t know if I’d use yesterday’s performance as an example that there’s something wrong with him.  Although walking Billy Hamilton should be an offense punishable by being forced to listen to Michael Kay’s talk show.

And sometimes you hit on 18 and get a 3:  Having Thairo Estrada bat for Mike Ford in the 10th inning was the wrong move, as was having him bunt.  Mike Ford had a double in the game in addition to two batted balls that should have been hits – a lineout in the 6th with a .650 expected batting average, and a groundout with a .480 expected batting average in the 8th.  KC pitcher Jake Diekman had just walked two batters – one a lefty and the other was the aforementioned free swinging Urshela.  But what about the lefty/lefty matchup?  Diekman’s career OBP against righties is .334, versus lefties, it’s .327.  And although light on MLB at-bats, Ford had a career .372 OBP in the minors – this was a good matchup for the Yankees.

But in went Estrada and in came Ian Kennedy to pitch against him.  Boone had Estrada bunt which again, as discussed only has about a 50/50 success rate.  It was a successful bunt and Austin Romine came through.  And although the run expectancy for just a single run is a tick higher with 2nd and 3rd with one out than 1st and 2nd and zero outs, I still don’t think that outweighs the 50% chance it won’t work and you lose an out with no runner advancement.

But it worked, so the Yankees win, thuuuuuhhhh Yankees win.


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