In the Great Yankees Analytics War of 2023 between Ben Ruta and Lance Brozdowski (just like we all expected), a new challenger has entered the fray: former Chicago White Sox/Minnesota Twins All-Star AJ Pierzynski.
To start things off, Ruta, an ex-Yankees minor-leaguer from 2016-2019, hopped into the chat on the Scott Braun-hosted "Foul Territory" podcast to scare Yanks beat writer Max Goodman with comments about how misguided the team's development efforts became under Dillon Lawson. According to Ruta, the team began to emphasize 95 MPH+ liners and walks exclusively, with all context stripped from them, and failed to teach base running fundamentals, situational hitting and the like.
Ruta, who regressed between 2018 and 2019 (both on the field and mentally, per his admission) when Lawson's revolution took over, certainly had an axe to grind, but there wasn't much big-league productivity to combat his assertions. Lawson's firing also seemed to signal the Yankees knew something had gone wrong.
Enter Brozdowski, who attempted to defend the Yankees by quoting their system-wide xwOBA and hard-hit rates, but who shot himself in the foot by claiming, "They do an incredible job...at developing the kind of hitters that have success at the Major League level."
No, no, sir. They do an incredible job developing the variety of hitter that modern major league teams prize ... in the low minors. When those players reach Triple-A or -- in rare cases -- MLB, they flame out, swinging from the heels to pass the exit velocity test while showing a stunning ineptitude at adjusting to breaking stuff. Luckily, Pierzynski laid the counterargument in front of Brozdowski. To say this team has developed big-league hitters well is ludicrous. They've legitimately done it as poorly as any organization has since 2019 (and, well, before that, too).
AJ Pierzynski doesn't believe in the Yankees analytics department/minor-league program
I hope against hope that Jasson Dominguez's recent hot streak portends great things and that Spencer Jones can reach the heights forecast for him, but ... as Pierzynski says, there are an awful lot of OPS marks in the Yankees' system from vaunted names that begin with "7." Not good.
Jones, a 6'7" behemoth in the Judge model, is not Dominguez, a squat 5'9" banger and surprising speed demon. Super pest Caleb Durbin doesn't fit into a one-size-fits-all exit velocity world. Oswald Peraza could be the latest victim of the upper minors/MLB staff failing their rising prospects, and pretending all is well because of low-minors chase rates isn't going to cut it much longer.
The Yankees are close. Their minor-league teams put up video game exit velocity numbers and win pretty consistently. But the disconnect at the top levels has to be patched up soon, or else Pierzynski's correct, and more talented players are going to fall into this strange void. He's -- rightfully -- unimpressed.