Game 44: Phillies @ Yankees, 5/24/09

As per the returning Pete Abraham Sam Borden (that interloper! Just kidding, for I think Borden is a terrific writer), below is the Yanks’ starting lineup.  Note the placement of Matsui seventh, about right considering how he’s (not) hitting compared to Cano and even Melky the Once-Again Clutch.  This should be a heck of a match-up, ace against ace with Sabathia facing Hamels for the series win.  The Yanks are just a half-game behind Toronto in first and are in fact a half-game ahead in the loss column, and tied with Boston with identical 25-18 records for second, with their dramatic win yesterday and Boston’s dramatic loss to the Mets on a two-run homer in the ninth off Papelbon.  Holy Omir Santos!  Hopefully Jurrjens can shut down Toronto for the Yanks (and Atlanta), and Redding can match Wakefield.

I love baseball.

Nice piece below excerpted from Tyler Kepner’s “Bats” blog at The New York Times on Friday discussing why Melky has had such a good start to the 2009 season:

[Kevin] Long admitted that Cabrera can be streaky, but he said he really did seem to be better this season. Specifically, Long said, he is using his lower half more effectively and getting better pitches to hit.

“He’s hitting the ball hard and seeing a lot of pitches, taking great at-bats,” Long said.

Long said he based that on both personal observation and statistics not quantified in box scores. After every game, Long evaluates each at-bat, like a hitting-coach version of Roger Ebert: thumbs up or thumbs down.

Cabrera, he said, has had 61 percent “good at-bats” this season, the highest percentage of any player on the Yankees. To Long, a good at-bat is defined as any hit, walk or hit-by-pitch, or any at-bat that consumes a lot of pitches or ends in an especially hard-hit ball.

As for those hard-hit balls, Long keeps track of those, too. He said Cabrera has hit the ball hard in 51 percent of his at-bats, also tops on the team. Fifty-one percent is an extremely high figure, he said. By Long’s calculations, a very good hitter will hit the ball on the sweet spot only about 40 percent of the time.

So is Cabrera for real? Only time will tell, but it’s pretty clear that for now, he could not be doing much better.

It is true that Melky is having fewer of “those” kinds of at-bats like he did last year, characterized by weak ground outs and pop-ups.  Good to see he’s done what was urged of Gardner as well–using the lower half to generate better power.  This means not necessarily hitting home runs but flat-out hitting the ball hard.  I like this excerpt too for it also shows that the Yankees have done a good job generating alternative statistical models for evaluation, player achievement, and success.

YANKEES (25-18)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera RF
Hideki Matsui DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner CF

Pitching: CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.43 ERA)

Published in: on May 24, 2009 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

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