The 2017 Yankees Could and Should Utilize Their Speed
The 2017 Yankees as presently configured, could have the same issues it ran into last season. They don’t score enough runs. Or, at least they don’t generate enough. If there is one advantage that is overlooked, it is their running game.
The Yankees have the speed to utilize with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of their lineup. When used wisely, speed can help a team manufacture runs. Whether it be stolen bases or the hit and run, the Yankees can put themselves in a better position to score.
Yankees: The Advantage Of Speed
Speed puts pressure on the opposing pitcher. With Brett Gardner getting on base at a career mark of .346 (he had .351 on-base percentage in 2016) and Jacoby Ellsbury with a respectable career mark of .342, the potential to drive pitchers batty is enormous.
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While nobody is comparing the duo to Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines, they can still do a variety of damage. Not only on the base paths but in the minds of opposing pitchers, catchers, and coaching staffs.
After stealing 39 bases in his first year in pinstripes, back in 2013, Ells dipped down to just 20 last season. In 2008 and 2009 with Boston, he swiped 50 and 70 bags respectively. While he may have lost a bit of speed due to injuries, he’s still a threat.
Gardy, on the other hand, stole 47 bases in 2010 and 49 a year later. Last year, however, he dropped to only 16. So while they may not be as young as they used to be, they still have the ability. They just need to use it more.
The Yankees Can Manufacture Runs
Joe Girardi knows a bit about manufacturing runs. He was a member of the 1996 World Champion Yankees, who utilized this practice under Joe Torre. Before adding Darryl Strawberry and Cecil Fielder later that season, Torre employed a more National League style of play, scratching out runs via the hit and run, or by stealing bases.
Now that the Yankees have added a professional veteran hitter in Matt Holliday using the hit and run early will likely give them an advantage. While the younger sluggers, such as Aaron Judge develop, if the team isn’t struggling to score runs, that would presumably mean less pressure on the kids.
Nothing about this strategy is guaranteed, however. It could totally flop and work against the team. Still, it has been used before successfully. There is no reason not to give it a go early in 2017.
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This upcoming season is going to be interesting for sure. Nobody knows for sure how Gary Sanchez will fare over a full season. Can Greg Bird come back after missing a year and be the player he showed flashes of being in 2015? The answer hasn’t arrived yet apparently. However, the Yankees do know they have some speed. They should use it accordingly.