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September 12, 2006

Viva Bola Pequeña?

From Hal Bodley in the USA Today -

Johnny Damon says when the New York Yankees landed Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bobby Abreu at the July 31 trading deadline "we were playing on fumes."

And the Yankees, now with the best record in the American League and a 10½-game lead over the fading Red Sox, look primed for a postseason run reminiscent of their title years.

"We stayed focused, and we stayed close," says Damon. "If we hadn't gotten Abreu, it might have been different. We were exhausted."

The Yankees haven't won the World Series since 2000, and it's my perception they've gotten away from the style of play that carried them to titles in 1996, '98, '99 and 2000.

Even though this team has power, that's not why they blow opponents away.

Consider this: On July 31, the Yankees were in second place with a 61-41 record. Before Monday night's game against Baltimore at Camden Yards, they were 85-56, 24-15 since Abreu arrived.

"This is probably closest to the clubs I had in 1996-97," says Torre. "It was a thinking-small mentality then. This now is a more comfortable team to watch. Abreu only added to what we do because he's that type of player. He takes a lot of pitches, makes the pitcher work. He obviously gives us a deeper lineup."

Outfielder Bernie Williams, with the Yankees since 1991, also believes the style of play has changed.

"After we won all those championships, we weren't the same team," he says. "When (Alfonso) Soriano and some of the other guys came in, we were a team that relied heavily on home runs — big ball, a base-to-base kind of club."

From 1996 through 2000, the Yankees were 10th in the A.L. in homers. From 2001 through 2005, the Yankees were 2nd in the A.L. in homers.

Therefore, there's some sense to what's being implied here. But, this season, the Yankees are one of the best homer-hitting teams in the A.L.

So, I don't think it's a matter of homering or not - it's more what you do when you're not homering, I think?

From 1996 through 2000, the Yankees were 2nd in the A.L. in On-Base Average. But, from 2001 through 2005, the Yankees were 1st in the A.L. in On-Base Average.

OK, there goes that theory.........

How about this? Maybe it's pitching?

From 1996 through 2000, the Yankees were 2nd in the A.L. in RSAA. From 2001 through 2005, the Yankees were 6th in the A.L. in RSAA. Hmmmmm........

But, this year, the Yankees are 10th in the A.L. in RSAA.

OK, there goes that theory.........

Let's go back to the hitters.

From 1996 through 2000, the Yankees batters were 10th in the A.L. in whiffs. But, from 2001 through 2005, the Yankees were 6th in the A.L. in batter whiffs (and not that far from being 3rd in the A.L.)

This year, the Yankees are middle-of-the-pack in terms of their batters whiffing.

Maybe that's the small ball difference - making contact? That would be very anti-Soriano of them (to Bernie's point).

I guess that I should say "Thank you Santa Claus!" Looks like it pays to be a good boy, after all.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at September 12, 2006 11:27 AM

Comments

Can they do math at USA Today?

There ain't much difference between 24-15 and 61-41.

The former is .615 ball. the latter .600 ball. If the Yanks had had Bobby A for those first 102 games, maybe they win 63 instead of 61 (a .616 winning %).

The reason the Yanks are in first now instead of 2nd, as they were then, is because the Sawx imploded, not because the Yanks are playing so much better.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2006 02:05 PM

The "Sawx" didn't implode until a certain five game series in the Fens in which they were swept.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2006 02:27 PM

The Sawx were in serious trouble even before then.

Between Aug 1 and Boston Massacre II they lost 2 of 3 to Cleveland, 3 of 4 to TB, were swept by KC, and lost 2 of 3 to Detriot. The only bright spot was in their ither series, in which they swept Baltimore in 3, tho I believe that had to comeback late in 2 of the 3.

The Yanks sent them into freefall, but the writing was already on the wall.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2006 07:23 PM