Time waits for no man and it certainly waits for no team.
The 2014 edition of the New York Yankees has been sputtering along for months now, like that first car you had as a teenager, seemingly near death yet steadfastly refusing to finally keel over, but with 45 games left on the schedule, 20 of which are against clubs they are battling for a playoff spot, fans of the team can certainly so “it’s now or never, fellas.”
To the casual observer, it would seemingly be a safe bet to attribute this maddening inconsistency to the fact that 5 of the teams 6 original starters it left spring training with, have spent at least some time on the DL, with more than a few having spent a lot, but incredibly enough that couldn’t be further from the truth.
No, the Yankees hopes (or perhaps “lack of hope”) rests on whether or not its once feared offense manages to finally awaken from its season long slumber.
Sure we’ve seen both Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran go on blistering tears for weeks on end and Jacoby Ellsbury has been pretty solid all year, save a couple of relatively short-lived slumps over the last 10 weeks or so, but all in all this season has been one of immeasurable frustration for the Yankees offense and their fans alike. Every time the team would rattle off a nice stretch where their starters were given something called “run support”, seen less frequently than Sasquatch this season, the club would quickly dash our hopes by going into a nice little funk where any starting pitcher who had the misfortune to allow more than 3 runs in their outing was all but guaranteed a no-decision at best.
The top of the order has consistently found ways to get on base and set the table for the thumpers, but to be blunt, the alleged “RBI guys” in the lineup have been stinkin’ up the joint all year long.
Now typically I tend to refer to the “Run Batted In” by its proper name, the “Really Bad Indicator”, but when you take the time to look at a very useful stat known as “RBI%” for the Yankees roster, which is simply the percentage of runners on base (minus themselves on home runs) a batter has driven in for his team, you begin to develop a clear understanding of who needs to step up their game during this stretch run.
The two Yankees who have easily been the best at cashing in RBIs all year long have been Jacoby Ellsbury (14.53%) and Brett Gardner (14.17%). The “table setters” have been the only guys who have been clearing the bases at a decent clip, but the guys who are supposed to be bringin’ home the bacon are not getting it done.
Over the course of the season, Brian McCann has had 272 potential RBIs on base in front of him. He’s driven in 36 runs other than himself, via the long ball. Carlos Beltran? 230 steaks waiting to be devoured… 31 runs batted in that were not of the “his own butt on a home run” variety. The much-maligned Mark Teixeira? 250 chances and only 32 runners other than himself driven in.
Though, I am quite sure that none of this is exactly news for fans of the men in pinstripes. I have repeatedly referred to this team’s penchant for not cashing in runs when given the chance as my own, hellish version of the Bill Murray classic “Ground Hog Day” because, quite frankly, it is something we all have seen over and over (and over) again the last couple of seasons.
All of that ineptitude has brought us to where we now sit.
117 games and about four dozen cases of heartburn later, staring one inescapable conclusion in the face: if our beloved Bronx Bombers do not find a way to consistently score some runs over the final 45 games of the season all hope is lost & the most iconic Yankee in generations will be ending his legendary baseball career on a lazy Sunday in September…
…in Fenway “Bleepin'” Park, of all places.
Yup, Derek Jeter.
The man who was once so eloquently referred to as “a biracial angel” will have to play his final big league game in the unfriendly confines of our bitter rival if the so-called “heart of the order” cannot find a way to produce runs at a rate that reflects their pedigrees as well as their paychecks.