To say the New York Yankees have gotten off to a rough start would be an understatement. An 8-12 record currently has them sitting in last place in the American League East, and it’s not like they are throwing away games. The Bombers have been straight overmatched so for in the young 2016 season, and a lot of finger pointing from the fan base has resulted.
People are calling out Luis Severino for not pitching shutouts every game, C.C. Sabathia for being in the rotation and not being the workhorse he was when he won the Cy Young Award, and Michael Pineda for not being the ace they traded for a few years ago. While a struggling starting pitching staff is a factor in the Yankees’ limited success this year, not a lot of blame is directed towards the hitters. In order to be successful in the game of baseball, you have to hit the baseball and score runs, something the Yankees have struggled to do early on.
Through April 28, the Yankees rank amongst the worse offenses in baseball. In the American League, they rank 14th in runs, hits, RBIs, and slugging percentage, and 12th in batting average and on-base percentage. They have scored fewer than four runs in 15 of the 20 games they have played thus far. That’s simply not going to get it done if you expect to be a championship-caliber team. With the exception of guys who don’t play every day, only Starlin Castro, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Brett Gardner are hitting above .250. There are currently 14 teams in Major League Baseball with team averages above that mark. Castro has been the lone exception, leading the team in average, hits, and RBIs this year. But he can’t carry the team alone; he needs the other guys in the lineup to figure it out.
While it is at a slower pace than typical Yankee teams, the team is generating base runners, but they are having trouble moving them into scoring position and pushing runs across the plate. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the Yankees strike out a lot, especially with runners in scoring position. They currently have a 16.5% strikeout rate during the young season, which is just unacceptable. They have nearly as many strikeouts (146) as hits (159) through 20 games. If they want to start having success, they need to follow the simplest rule of baseball: put the ball in play.
The weak starting pitching and ugly hitting have hurt the Yankees, but the bullpen has been the lone bright spot and performed better than expected without Aroldis Chapman. The four main guys out of the pen, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Johnny Barbato, and Chasen Shreve, have allowed only seven earned runs in 36.1 innings pitched. This has allowed the Yanks to stay in ballgames, despite scoring few, if any, runs.
If the Yankees want to seriously contend for a World Series title, they need to improve their hitting, and quickly. The starting pitching will come around with time, but if the bats struggle more than they do now, then it’s going to be a long season for the Yankees, as well as their fans. Hopefully they figure it out soon, because the New York faithful will soon be picking scapegoats and demanding their heads if the Yankees don’t win baseball games.