Wednesday, April 22, 2015


The Yankees are showing a lot of fight and mental toughness, especially late in games. Okay, some of you are already thinking I am delusional. The Yankees have not exactly dominated in the first few weeks of the season, and the popular opinion is one of disappointment in a team that we expected to come roaring out of the gate. It is obvious that they do not have all the pieces lined up to produce a team that can contend for a playoff spot. Nevertheless, if you are paying attention to some of the finer points of the game, you may notice that some important traits are strong on the Yankees right now. Those traits happen to be pretty important.

First, there are the rallies. Here is a stat I have not seen make the news too much. In their first 12 games, from the 7th inning on, the Yankees have come back to tie the game or take the lead on six separate occasions. That’s something! Four of their first six wins were come-from-behind wins. Even in their losses, they are clawing. In five of their first six losses, at some point in the game, they were down by at least three runs and they came back to cut the deficit by at least half. That is huge! They say that you cannot teach that, that it is within a team’s chemistry and mindset not to give up, to fight to the very last out, no matter what the scoreboard says. It makes every game winnable. Even if they fall behind, they will know that as long as the pitching can keep it close, they have a chance to win. It may not be obvious this early in the season, but mark my words – by mid-summer, this team will be making its mark, and the rest of the division will start to get nervous when the Yankees come to town.

The Yankees are also doing the little things well. For instance, look at their ability to advance runners and make productive outs. The Yankees are doing both at a high rate when compared to the rest of the league. With men on third and less than two out, they are driving him in 70% of the time. The league average is 54%. With men on second and no one out, they are advancing in the runner 63% of the time. The league average for this is also 54%. The Yankees are making Productive Outs, as defined by Elias and ESPN, in 41% of their opportunities. The league average is 31%. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen many cases where this is a key element of winning. In 1996, we called it “Small Ball”. Others call it “manufacturing runs”. Still others quote “Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in”. It is the same principle, and we attribute it to teams that win. The Yankees have been doing it well this season.

Look, no one is saying that the Yankees have it all figured out. Certainly, their record so far does not say that. Nevertheless, they are getting the important fundamentals down. That is a reason to get excited. Additionally, many of the Yankees’ problems in the first two weeks are starting to work themselves out. Masahiro Tanaka’s velocity is finally hitting the low-to-mid 90’s. Dellin Betances is still a little wild, but he is settling in and putting up zeros. Mark Teixeira’s slow bouncers are turning into hard shots, even if some of them are productive outs. There are still many things to work on, but some of the important ones seem to be lining up. If you decide to look past the gloom and doom that seem to be popular among some sports journalists, you will find reasons to get excited about the Yankees.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row

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