The 2022 New York Yankees are a below-average offensive team. Their success is predicated on pitching and defense, just like the successes of lower-tier teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals.
Could the Yanks luck into a win streak or two because of their dominant starters and relievers? Could they luck into a playoff berth? Sure. There’s no dominant team in the American League, and the Yankees’ pitching staff may be a top-10 best unit in MLB by the end of the season.
Along the way to that level of success, though, the journey will be dull as hell by design. Brian Cashman blamed the 2021 Yankees’ players for the team’s offensive incompetence, then, by and large, kept those players in place for 2022.
The ones who were jettisoned were mainly replaced by offensive downgrades. Gary Sánchez performed poorly in 2021, and still, Kyle Higashioka seems fated to perform worse. This was, unfortunately, the point all along.
Through 13 games, just how bad has the poorly-designed offense performed? Bad enough to evoke valid comparisons to the Dead Ball Era, when the New York Highlanders were busy getting shut out three times in their first baker’s dozen contests.
At that point, the baseball was held together with spit and mud and the pitcher stood approximately 40 feet away from the hitter (estimated) and whipped it full speed. The game was different then, but the Yankees were just as terrible.
Yankees (Have Been Shut Out 3 Times in 13 Games) are basically the New York Highlanders
On the surface, half of the Yankees losses being blankings feels like a devastating way to begin a season, but it’s even worse when you realize their pitchers limited the opponents to three runs, three runs, and five runs in those games. The 5-0 shutout was 0-0 in the eighth; Thursday’s game was 1-0 with two outs in the same innings. That’s three very winnable shutouts right there.
Still, this level of futility has us harkening back to 1912, when Fenway Park was getting its finishing touches and the Titanic was setting sail, eventually inspiring the 2022 Yankees offense when it limply sunk in the ocean.
When the tension is high, this throwback Yankees offense gets one or two degrees worse, the most unsettling part of all. With runners in scoring position, the team collectively grips the bat and hits like Higgy, embodied best by Aaron Hicks, Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton in the eighth inning of Thursday’s depression session.
The silver lining? This team that doesn’t do a single thing right at the plate is over .500 and has plenty of friends in the offensive incompetence department. Home runs are down throughout the league, and the Yankees’ futility ranks right alongside playoff hopefuls like the Mariners and White Sox.
The bad news? The Yankees were built to do just this. They’re not going to wake up. They’re already caffeinated.
Or, as the 1912 Highlanders called it, “The Devil’s Speed.”