The Yankees offensive woes this season have been well documented, and after failing to score in three consecutive games you have to identify a problem.
Obviously, we know that a big reason for lack of production was getting nothing out of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeria. There was no one to drive in runs and it was an obvious problem this season; however, next season the Yankees hope they can plug that hole by inserting a young duo of Sanchez and Bird in those positions to drive in runs.
When the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury it looked like Ellsbury and Gardner were going to team up to cause havoc on the opposing pitchers; however, that has not been the case. This season Ellsbury has just a .261 average to go along with a .324 on-base-percentage. Those numbers would be fine if Ellsbury was a power hitter or able to drive in runs, but he’s not that type of player. As a matter of fact since joining the Yankees he has just now matched his home run total from 2011 with Boston when he hit 32 home runs. It has taken him 3 seasons to do that in New York, but that’s not a large deal as he was signed to be a table setter.
Ellsbury had an on-base-percentage of .350 during his time in Boston to go with a .297 batting average. Since joining the Yankees he has only been able to muster a .322 on-base-percentage, and a .263 average.
Ellsbury’s best two months this season were May and August and it’s no secret why the Yankees went 33-23 over those two months. During the Yankees six game winning streak at home that got them into the playoff hunt, Ellsbury went 14-19 during that period. He also walked four times. During this most recent 2-8 slide for the Yankees Ellsbury has batted just .129 with just a .182 OBP.
This has been a common theme all season. When the Yankees win Ellsbury is batting .338 with a .401 OBP. When the Yankees lose Ellsbury bats just .180 with a .240 OBP. 2015 was much of the same as Ellsbury batted just .186 with a .238 OBP in Yankee losses.
Compare those numbers to his 2011 numbers in Boston. He batted .351 with a .401 OBP in Red Sox wins, but he maintained a solid .281 average with a .339 OBP. In fact, his numbers in 2011 losses are better than any of his combined three seasons in pinstripes.
The Yankees obviously are a much better team when Ellsbury is getting on base. Ellsbury’s inefficiency to reach base has hurt the Yankees enormously. Without getting your top guys on you can’t drive them in. This makes for a lack of chances with runners in scoring position, or to manufacture runs.
The Yankees problems are larger than just allowing Ellsbury to hit lower in the line-up, because the Yankees have struggled to reach base in general all season. Outside of Gardner the only person with a higher on-base-percentage than Ellsbury is Chase Headley.
The Yankees could still look into batting Ellsbury lower in the order next season, but it may not solve enough of the problems. Regardless, the Yankees should enjoy seeing a young middle of the line-up next season. This also gives the Yankees the ability to see young outfielders next season. Look for a lot of Gardner and Ellsbury platoons next year. Potentially even seeing an increased DH role for Ellsbury.
The Yankees have got to try and figure out a solution to get more runners on. Especially, in front of their revitalized middle of the order. This off-season should be interesting as the Yankees look to get younger, and reach base more often.
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