New York Yankees Editorial: Will The Real Outfield Please Stand Up?
Wednesday night in Tampa Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury broke out of a career-long 0-25 slump when he hit a ground ball single through the left side. The ball barely squeaked its way into shallow left field, but to Ellsbury, that hit must have seemed like it traveled over 450 feet, deep into the Florida night.
Ellsbury managed to add another single in the fifth inning of last night’s tilt against the Tampa Bay Rays, giving the Yankees’ centerfielder his first multi-hit game since September 6. Coincidentally, that game was also against Tampa Bay.
Struggling at the plate has become an all too common occurrence for the 32-year-old Ellsbury in 2015. A career .289 hitter, Ellsbury is currently hitting just .253. His OBP numbers have also seen a similar decline. Ellsbury’s career OBP sits at .343. However, in 2015, it has dropped to .313.
These numbers are concerning for a player of Ellsbury’s caliber. He has long been considered one of the better leadoff hitters in the game. The Yankees snatched Ellsbury away from the rival Boston Red Sox and signed him to a seven-year, $153 million deal so that he could be the table setter for a potent lineup in the Bronx. For much of 2015, Ellsbury has not been the player he was expected to be.
Ellsbury’s outfield running mate and top of the lineup partner Brett Gardner has seen his fair share of offensive struggles this season as well. Gardner was named an American League All-Star after a first half in which he hit .302 with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs and 22 doubles. Since the All-Star break, Gardner is hitting .204 with 6 home runs, 23 RBIs and just 4 doubles.
For Gardner, a once promising 2015 campaign seemed to really hit the skids once the dog days of summer began to take effect. The speedy left fielder registered a .208 average in the month of August, his lowest batting average in any month so far this season.
Hitting second in the Yankee lineup makes Gardner a table setter, just like Ellsbury. Despite Gardner’s scorching .411 OBP in June, his OBP has dropped every month since then. So far in September, Gardner’s OBP is a minuscule .255.
Ellsbury and Gardner were supposed to be a dynamic combination at the top of the lineup for the Bronx Bombers this season. They were supposed to work deep counts, see a lot of pitches, and, most importantly, get on base. None of that has been going on of late, and this lack of production from the outfield has been detrimental to a Yankees team fighting for a division crown.
In order for the Yankees to make a run at the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays and beyond, they need to get steadier offensive production out of Ellsbury and Gardner.
Yankees fans finally saw some signs off life from Ellsbury last night as he hit himself out a pretty miserable slump. Doing so against a quality pitcher in Chris Archer of the Rays is encouraging, but consistency is going to be key down the stretch. Can Ellsbury continue to get hits, or will he revert back to his slumping ways?
As for Gardner, it seems like he exhausted all of his offense during the first half off the season. His post All-Star break numbers are laughable compared to the gaudy ones he was posting during the early months of the season. Will Gardner be able to rekindle some of that first half offensive magic, or will he continue to limp to the finish?
With October rapidly approaching, the Yankees need Ellsbury and Gardner to perform like the players that we have grown accustomed to seeing over the years. Now is the time for opposing pitchers to fear the top of the Yankees lineup once again.
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