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Jockbeat: The Yankees at Midseason

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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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