Let’s talk about last night’s game. One wouldn’t think we would need to have a sit down after four games, but there were a few common themes (common, meaning “old and tired”) that came up last night that requires us to be very clear about a few matters before embarking on the 158 game journey that is the rest of the 2022 season.
For starters, and as yet another reminder, although hitting performance with runners in scoring position is a factor in wins and losses, it is not a controllable skill. If you think it is, you’re basing your theory on a premise that players can pick and choose when to get hits. (“Hey, you know what? It’s a scoreless game in the third inning and there’s a runner on first, so I’m not going to waste my one of my hits right now. I might be up later with two on when we’re down by three runs – I’ll save a hit until then.”)
Of course, that’s absurd – players want to get a hit every time they’re up. Quite often, the opposing pitcher and defense are pretty good and they win, and it’s not more complicated than that. A good chunk of hitting with RISP is randomness based on small sample sizes. This is why, in case you were wondering, OBP is more important than batting average and SLG when it comes to teams scoring runs. Having more opportunities with runners on base is more important than obsessing over how many opportunities were capitalized upon – because that’s not a controllable skill.
And for the record, when Josh Donaldson was up with two on and the Yankees down by three runs, he hit the baseball 105.6 mph off the bat. For anyone thinking his inability to drive in those runs was due to some sort of deficiency on his part, I’d like you to explain what else he was supposed to do.
Speaking of sample sizes, all of last season is not a small sample size, and the Yankees’ biggest issue was an inability to score runs. So far this year they’ve scored 11 runs in four games, not counting the two in extra innings on Opening Day with the ghost runner. If you want to draw attention to something, I’d be OK if you drew attention to that. (Although I would point out it’s been four games, and I’d still ask you to relax.)
Returning to last night’s action and focusing on the big picture, we should just as easily note that the Yankees’ pitching held a juggernaut of an offense to three runs – that’s a damn good performance. That’s a game you’ll win more often than not, but it just didn’t happen last night (again, mostly because of randomness and good pitching from the Jays).
Once more with the enormous caveat, it’s only four games, going 2-2 against two good teams in your division is not a bad thing. It’s highly unlikely that any of the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, or Red Sox will dominate the other three teams this season. It’s far more likely they’ll play more or less .500 against each other. The extent to which Baltimore and the teams in the pathetically weak AL Central and AL West are dominated by those four teams will probably be the difference-maker at the top of the AL East standings this season.
If you want to be concerned about the potential flaws on your team and scoreboard watch on April 12th, I get it – I’m doing that too. (Heck I really pumped my fist when I saw Oakland putting one on Tampa Bay last night and Boston blowing one in Detroit.) But let’s keep our emotions based on reality – it’s a long season.
The Bombers get another crack at the highly annoying Toronto Blue Jays tonight with Néstor Cortes Jr. on the hill. Recent free agent signing Yusei Kikuchi gets the ball for Toronto, first pitch will be at 7:05 in the boogie down. The YES Network has the TV broadcast and WFAN has the radio broadcast.
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