Jockbeat: The Yankees at Midseason
Let's start with the obvious -- or at least what should be obvious: the new Yankee Stadium is not helping the Yankees. While the Yanks lead MLB in home runs at home with 79 and are on track to be one of the greatest home run hitting teams of all time, they're actually hitting better on the road than at home. While New York is only 6th in their league in Runs Scored at Home (242), they're first in Runs Scored Away (253), and they're actually hitting five points better in other teams' parks than in their own (.278-.273).
What the new ballpark is not helping is the Yankee's pitching staff. Overall, they are 11th in AL team ERA at 4.54. That breaks down to a miserable 4.80 at home, but a not particularly bad 4.28 ERA on the road -- in fact, the Yankees have the 3rd best road ERA in the AL.
The biggest disappointment has to be C.C. Sabathia, a mediocre 8-6 with an uninspiring 3.86 ERA...
What the Yankees were looking for was something like 11-3, not unreasonable since Sabathia was 11-2 in the second half of 2008 while pitching for Milwaukee. What's puzzling is that C.C. seems to have lost his strikeout pitch, just 95 in 128.1 innings this year opposed to 128 in his last 130 innings in 2008.
The other disappointment, a let down even bigger than Sabathia considering what was expected of him, is Joba Chamberlain, whose 4.25 ERA in 17 starts doesn't begin to tell the story. Joba has struck out just 78 batters in 89 innings while giving up 97 hits and walking 42. He is leading the league only in time wasted on the mound shaking off his catcher, and, probably, if anyone kept such a stat, most pitches wasted without being able to close the deal after reaching two strikes.
The humiliating three game sweep to the Angels in Anaheim -- in which Yankee pitching was pounded for 29 runs in three games -- ought to be a wakeup call. Despite the acquisition of Sabathia and A.J. Burnett (who actually hasn't done badly so far, 8-4 and 3.77, numbers superior to Sabathia's), the Yankees still lack an ace, someone who can throw against a good team in a big game.
Here's the most telling single stat, one that should give any Yankee fan bad dreams: against the three best teams they've faced all season -- the Red Sox, Angels and Phillies -- the Yankees are 3-14. If they had been just 8-9, they would be in first place.
Let's be clear, though, about who has not been a disappointment. The Daily News has renewed its assault on A-Rod, typified by the headline to Mark Feinsand's July 13 story,
"Alex Falters In Make or Break" -- meaning that Rodriguez hit into a double play with the winning runs on base and struck out with a chance to win the game in a 5-4 loss to the Angels. It didn't make a headline that A-Rod also hit three home runs and drove in or scored 8 of the Yankees '18 runs in the series. (Apparently Alex Rodriguez is the only Yankee obliged to hit in clutch situations.)
On July 14, the back page read "He Was the Best" with John Harper and Anthony McCarron listing their choice for players who have passed up A-Rod in for the unofficial title of Best in Baseball.
You have to dig deep into both stories to find a reminder that the man had hip surgery and has suffered from fatigue since returning, Despite that, his On Base Average is .411, 4th best in the AL, and pitchers are still so afraid of him that they've walked 48 times in 247 plate appearances -- a higher percentage than even the game's best hitter, Albert Pujols.
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