The Yankees' off-speed problem
When the pitch is not coming in fast, New York's production slows
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the 2011 New York Yankees knows they have one of the best offensive attacks in the league. They are edging out the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers for the most runs scored in baseball so far this season, and it's hard to find a true weakness in the lineup to exploit. The Yankees hit at home and on the road, against lefties and righties, against fly ball pitchers and ground ball pitchers. With apologies to the late, great, Dr. Seuss, this team would score runs in a box, with a fox, in a house, or with a mouse.
Looking at the pitch-by-pitch stats against the Yankees on FanGraphs, however, tells a story of a lineup with a weakness this season. The Bronx Bombers have been the best team in baseball this year at hitting fastballs, generating 81 more runs of production against fastballs than the average team. Just five teams in baseball are even 20 or more runs better than average against fastballs this season, so that 81 is a pretty impressive number. While the Red Sox and Rangers are also very good fastball-hitting teams this year, there's more balance. For example, the Red Sox and Rangers rank second and third in baseball against changeups. Against changeups and curveballs, the Yankees have combined to be seven runs below average, a relatively weak performance for a team leading baseball in runs scored.
For a full breakdown of the Yankees' trouble against off-speed stuff, and why this could be a problem come October, become an ESPN Insider today.