The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Sunday, September 10, 2017 Judge (2 HRs), Yanks trim East deficit to 3 1/2

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each crushed two home runs and Didi Gregorius had four hits as the Yankees won for the second time in three games against the Rangers with a 16-7 victory Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park.

The victory allowed the Yankees to move within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox in the American League East. They also now have a 3 1/2- game lead over the Twins in the AL Wild Card race with 20 games left. With the Twins losing on Sunday, the Rangers remained 2 1/2 games behind them for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Judge hit two home runs for the fourth time this season and first since June 11 against the Red Sox. The 41 home runs are the second most by a rookie in Major League history behind Mark McGwire’s 49 in 1987.

It’s funny, for such an awesome win, there were still some some major sore spots. Not so much Greg Bird going 0-5, but the fact that Montgomery couldn’t even get to the fifth inning despite being staked to a 9-1 lead. And Dellin Betances sucked again in a super low pressure situation. Ugh.

Still, that was outweighed by the awesomeness of them scoring 16 runs. 16 runs, people! Two home runs for Aaron Judge, two home runs for Gary Sanchez and four hits for Didi. Amazing.

The Twins lost and the Red Sox lost (the Angels won). The Yankees now stand four games ahead of the Twins in the loss column and three games back of the Red Sox in the loss column. They’re five games up on the Angels in the loss column and six games up on the Rangers, Royals, Mariners and currently the Orioles (it could be seven if the Orioles lose tonight). The Red Sox host the A’s the next series, so that will not be good for the division race, but at least the Wild Card race is looking more reasonable. As I’ve been saying for a month or so, really, all they need to do is keep winning games and they should be fine. They’re now 12 games over for the first time in quite a while. That’s good.

The Yankees head to Citifield to play the Rays in a three-game set that was moved from Tampa Bay due to Hurricane Irma. CC gets the first game. We’ll probably see Jaime Garcia get a start this series. Hopefully he doesn’t suck.

--Posted at 6:47 pm by Brian Cronin / 45 Comments | - (0)


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The A’s just ripped the Astros a couple new ones, so maybe they’re psyched and in spoiler mode.

If I told any one of you on April 1 Judge’s stats on September 10, you would have scoffed.  So let’s get over it.  He’s still new to the majors and has to adjust some and if he does, he’s a generational player.  If recent performance is what he is (second half Judge), he’s still a valuable player for the next five years at least.

Not to mention, Sanchez in the running for best catcher in the majors.

Can we get a stop please?

Also, went to see the Dodgers game.  What a shitshow that team is turning into.  The bright spot is that my daughter is genuinely trying to understand the game and be a fan.  I wish there were more exciting moments for her to understand.

Wait, they’re NOT going to win 118 games this year?

Darvish has been a disaster lately. Weird how he could handle Arlington in August but you put him in an NL pitcher’s park and he just fell apart.

[2] I think the problem was Girardi leaving him in the cleanup spot for 2 1/2 months of mediocrity. It isn’t as if Judge is an established player, yet Girardi treated him as such. I think that is what most had a problem with.

[8] Still, I hope if the Yankees make the playoffs Girardi stops screwing around with this and bats him 2nd or 3rd. (And I know batting orders don’t matter.) I am of the opinion that no team should be able to get through the first inning without facing the hitter who is both most likely to get on base and most likely to hit a home run. In fact, I wouldn’t let a team get through the first without facing Judge and Sanchez. (And I know batting orders don’t matter.)

And speaking of batting orders (and I know batting orders don’t matter): has anyone here talked about how Girardi seems to just love to bat Gregorius and Castro back-to-back? Because, they’re like, SS and 2b, so they should hit together too, or something?

(And I know batting orders don’t matter.)

It’s all true, but so what?
He set expectations high. Once he actually DID that, there’s nothing odd about wondering whether he can be that generational player.
Once his performance vastly declined, and for a substantial period of time, it’s natural to wonder whether the new level is his real norm. And after the first half, that would certainly be a major disappointment.
I hope (obviously) he adjusts and his norm is close to the first half. He’s an unusual physical specimen; it’s not out of the question. Perhaps the past few days are indicators that this will, in fact, be what happens.
And if he’s what he is in the second half - it’s valuable, but you’re damned right I’m going to be extremely disappointed.
His numbers “over the whole year” hide the story told by the two halves.

All of which is eclipsed by his post-game interview today.

“Sanchy?” Really?


Look at Judge’s minor league numbers and remember that he’s an old rookie. He’s almost as old as Mike Trout! I think he is who he always has been - tons of power, but massive holes in his swing that many major league pitchers can exploit.

I know batting orders don’t matter when you look at a lot of numbers, but I think there might be a psychological element that I think we see when closers who are “used to” closing pitch less well in a non-save situation.  For a young player especially, you move them up in the lineup, for some it might be a “holy shit I better deliver” kind of moment and they press.  There are probably numbery ways to look at both these things but I bet the sample sizes are small.

This is where the manager and his coaches ought to play some role—like, we might think it’s dumb based on raw numbers, but maybe player X really does feel more comfortable batting 7th, and after a year of success at that spot you move them up in the order.  From analysis we know that you want your best hitters to get more PAs, but the players (especially young players) for the most part probably don’t see their roles that way.  “I’m hitting second, I better mash or I’m a failure.”

Not sure being in the majors isn’t enough to create that pressure… but maybe.

In the meanwhile, Montgomery was one of the nice discoveries of the first half. Anyone concerned about the pitching today?

Wednesday Archer who shit the bed last time against Garcia who hasn’t pitched since 8/30. You’d think they could’ve found a few innings for him.  The other matchups look ok depending on which CC shows up.

Yesterday someone commented that the Yankees out scored the jets. They actually outscored the jets and giants combined.

Quick hook for Monty yesterday? Had it been CC he would still be pitching now (at 7:15 AM)

CC has pitched well enough this season that I think he’s earned his long hook. Not only that, but CC’s also one of the few Yankee pitchers who can actually eat innings still (he can eat lots of other things, too, but still), so I get why they want to try to let him do so. These other guys run out of gas so relatively quickly. For instance, I have loved the Sonny Gray Experience so far, but the dude can barely get to the 7th even when he’s pitching WELL!

Hop into the way back machine to this very site on 5 May 2017.

What Judge did in the first half was absurd.  There was zero chance he was going to replicate that in the second half.

For whatever it’s worth, in the 10,000 Diamond Mind simulations I ran with Judge’s CAIRO forecast of .254/.340/.461 and 25 home runs in in 536 PA, he never got to 50 home runs.  He did reach 40 home runs 69 times, with a high of 49.  His best overall season was a 44 home run season where he hit .310/.394/.595 in 617 PA.

Judge’s current line:
.277/.411/.583 41 HR 90 RBI 107 BB 188 K in 598 PA

[3] Maybe best hitting catcher.  Not the catching part by any stretch.

[18]I don’t think Sanchez is going to wow people with his defense (except that rifle for throwing arm), but he’s not a bad defensive catcher.  His defensive stats are generally average to good.  Combined with his offensive prowess, he’s a solid candidate for best overall catcher in baseball.

[18] Aren’t his pitch-framing and CS% numbers good? The only concern, I thought, was the PB thing. Which is concerning, but I think his defense is almost underrated because of how much people focus in on that one thing.

As for batting order, I agree with the above comment that Judge/Sanchez should be 2-3 in the lineup. Without thinking too much something like


Is Clint Frazier going to get regular ABs when he’s back?

[19 & 20] His defensive stats are average? He allows more passed balls and commits more errors that almost any other catcher in baseball.  I think pitch-framing is overblown - great pitchers hit their spots regardless of what the catcher does, and they get calls from umpires with consistent location.  I love Sanchez, but he is clearly not good or even average at some things that many catchers can do. 

That said, he is very young and has plenty of time to improve his skills.

That said, he is very young and has plenty of time to improve his skills.

Right. In a rush to label players on this team as over-rated, people sometimes forget that aspect of this team. It’s incredibly young compared to teams in the last five years. Horde young players. Horde!

I thought people were pretty thrilled about his skills last year and that he had a patch of “reverting to MiL problems” this year. My sense was that, absent that patch, he looked like surprisingly good defensive catcher, but I haven’t run splits.

[21] DefRS is 16th in baseball among catchers with more than 300 PAs.  There are 30 teams.  He’s 9th in baseball among cathers (more than 250 PAs) in Defensive runs above average with 9.5, which according to FG’s rule of thumb/guide makes him an average to above-average defender.

You know who has more passed balls than Sanchez?  Yasmani Grandal, one the supposed best defensive catchers in baseball.

The passed balls is annoying, but come on, he’s not a bad defensive catcher overall.

[20] No one wants to talk about Girardi hitting Gregorius-Castro back-to-back? Maybe it’s not even a thing,

Handling of the bullpen pitchers when the Yankees have a one-run lead?
Number of fastballs called when Jaime G. is pitching?

No one wants to talk about Girardi hitting Gregorius-Castro back-to-back? Maybe it’s not even a thing

Castro has started 72 games since Gregorius returned from missing the first 20 games. He’s hit back-to-back with Gregorius 20 times. So leaning towards “not even a thing.”

[24]  I think Sanchez does have sort of a problem with passed balls though.  I think some of them are getting called wild pitches because he doesn’t even get the glove on them.  Is there a way to look up WP+PB for a catcher?

Some of the WP are legit of course, I saw one on Friday (?) where Sanchez set up outside and the pitch missed way inside.

Yeah, the passed balls are a legit issue, but it doesn’t completely outweigh all the things he does right. That said, in a way, they stand out MORE because he does the OTHER stuff so well that the fact that he keeps letting ball gets by is more aggravating.

You know what was once a thing? Yankee manager Ralph houk batting his second baseman lead off. No matter how bad a hitter the second baseman was. Then he took that nonsense with him to his next gig. Weird.

[29] Is there a way to look up WP+PB for a catcher?

Combined? No, but Fangraphs lists them out.  I don’t think the PB/WP is a huge deal.  The Yankees as a whole perhaps throw more wild pitches for a couple of reasons: 1) the organization has deemphasized the fastball, which results in many more breaking pitches that can get shortarmed or thrown in the dirt to avoid cement mixers in the middle of the zone.; 2) the Yankee pitchers in particular may be prone to throwing more WP (maybe a struggling Tanaka or Betances, in addition to young pitchers). 

In 2015, the Yankees were 3rd in wild pitches, in 2016, they were 20th, and in 2017 they’re 4th (they were also 20th in PB that season).


PB are also aggravating because of the advancing base runners/how visible it is. If a catcher isn’t framing well or not throwing out runners, it doesn’t “stand out”. You might blame the pitcher or ump for the strikes/balls and give credit to the runner or blame to the pitcher (long windup) on the steals.

Assuming must win games and playoffs, likelihood of Sanchez being defensively replaced in late innings by Romine?

[24] Grandal is the ONLY catcher in MLB with more passed balls (15 to Sanchez’s 14), but he has also caught 200 more innings than Sanchez so far this year.  He has also committed half as many errors as Sanchez.

The good news is that Gary has essentially hit about 50 HRs over a full season’s worth of games.  Considering that he won’t be 30 until after the 2022 season, we have a lot to look forward to.

[28] Thanks, Brian. I’ll stop foaming at the mouth about it now.

[25] It is much more than just “annoying” - it costs us runs and has cost us a couple games, maybe more than we know considering how it might affect our pitchers.  Unless you can convince me that chucking a game or two is somehow not important in a pennant race.

He needs to improve back there, period.

[30] Yeah, and Torre did sh*t like that all the time too, especially with the 2 hole. Who else besides me gnashed their teeth when seeing Jose Vizcaino/Enrique Wilson/Miguel Cairo (sorry SG) etc. batting second only because they were middle infielders with no power?

[32] That’s a lot of mental gymnastics to excuse a guy from committing errors.

What is more likely: the entire Yankee organization, from majors to minors, has conspired to throw more balls in the dirt, or the starting catcher with shitty technique is not blocking the pitches in the dirt?

The fact is Sanchez tries to glove too many pitches from the middle of the catcher’s box, when he should be moving his feet, getting on his knees and blocking everything in the dirt.  Pay closer attention to the next week or two, really watch him compared to the other teams’ catchers, and you’ll see that he just sticks his arm out sometimes when his whole body should be shifting.

[35] et al


Take a look at the Yankees, in general. They rank last in the league in fastball percentage, by a wide margin. ...

The Yankees are the red dot in the upper left-hand corner. Tanaka’s teammates are also choosing breaking and offspeed pitches over fastballs in bulk. Despite throwing high-velo fastballs.

The Sanchez through 161 career games: .285/.357/.577 (.934 OPS, 140 OPS+) w 50 HR, 78 XBH, 125 RBI, 105 R, 60 BB, 164 K, 6.9 WAR.

I will take that with all the PBs.

Defense is overrated. The Yankees had the worst up the middle defense with posada, jeter and the corpse of Bernie and still won 100 games. So far it looks like Sanchez will hit better than posada (fewer walks though) so I will take it. Too bad we don’t have a CF who can hit like Bernie.

I don’t think it’s either/or.  Sanchez is a decent defensive catcher, who is an amazing hitter for the position (or any position), who’s got a hole in his game that he should work to correct or mitigate.

Just looked through the schedule. Yanks don’t really have many more opportunities to make up ground vs the Red Sox. But if they can keep it within 2 games through the end of September, they’ll have a chance when the Sox finally face a superior team in the Astros.

Does he have a hole in his game?
Without the few weeks we were all on about “back to his MiL head problems” and “I learned everything the MiL can teach me,” were we complaining a lot about passed balls? Somehow I don’t remember it.

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