Yankees need to become less reliant on the long-ball

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Manager Aaron Boone
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 6: Manager Aaron Boone /

While the home run may work in the regular season, pitching improves in the playoffs. Thus, fewer home runs are hit. The Yankees need to place an emphasis on enhancing small ball this offseason and overall manufacturing of runs.

The Yankees led the majors with 267 home runs this year, setting the all-time single-season record. The arch-rival Red Sox finished ninth in the category but first in runs, wins (108) and most importantly, won their fourth World Series title since the turn of the century.

Often, relying on the home run works well throughout a 162-game season, against both good and bad pitching. However, the Red Sox proved that manufacturing runs are the key to success during the playoffs.

So while the Yankees continue to build around sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, they need to play better small ball to be more effective in the postseason.

Miguel Andujar (.297/.328/.527), Didi Gregorius (.268/.335/.494) and Gleyber Torres (.271/.340/.480) are part of the present/future infield for the Bronx Bombers. Collectively they stole a grand total of only 18 bases last year. Veteran outfielder Brett Gardner led the team with 16 steals.

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In total, the Yankees stole 63 bases, which ranked 25th overall — and swiped only one bag in October.

That’s not going to get it done if they want to advance in the postseason. Manager Aaron Boone has to be more aggressive on the base paths, especially during the regular season so the players are better prepared when the stretch-run begins.

Sometimes sluggers go cold and the team’s offense sinks along with it. Hoping they will snap out of a funk by hitting homers is unlikely.

This is where players and their skipper, Boone, need to alter the gameplan. Hitters should look to hit to the opposite field against a shift. Pitchers, including Luis Severino and Mashiro Tanaka, need to throw more quality strikes and pitch deeper into ballgames.

Also, Boone would be wise to put base runners in hit-and-run situations, forcing opposing pitchers to throw fastballs — giving hitters better quality pitches to swing at.

The Yankees may have led the major leagues in at-bats to homers ratio of 20.7; but they were also towards the bottom in ground ball to fly ball ratio and grounding into double plays. These are all positives.

However, on the negative side, the Yanks were in the top-10 in total team strikeouts. As games are close or tied during the late innings, the Yanks need to bunt and sacrifice to get runners over and win those close games. Leaving runners in scoring position was a significant problem in 2018, and plagued the Bombers until their elimination in the ALDS.

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This was Boone’s first year as manager — and while his growing pains still led to a postseason appearance, the Yankees are structured as a championship or bust organization. Hitting home runs against lousy pitching in the regular season leads to wins, but they are harder to come by in the playoffs. The Yankees need to be better prepared for the postseason and Boone needs to make adjustments early next year.