The New York Yankees have scored 27 runs in the first three games of the season, demonstrating how scary they can be if everyone has their hitting shoes on.
In July of last year, the Yankees’ OPS peaked at .817 due, in large part, to the team being in the in the top five in Major League Baseball in runs and home runs.
The team was also enjoying a 57-42 record featuring a seven-game lead in the American League East going into play on July 31st.
Once August hit, however, the offense slammed into a brick wall and things started getting a little messy. The Yankee offense posted a season-low .708 OPS that month, eventually leading to the largest blown division lead in franchise history.
It didn’t get any better in September, as they scored the fifth fewest in the AL (121), and struck out the fourth most (225 times) en route to losing seven out of their last eight games of the year.
There were many reasons why the Yankees lineup went from juggernaut to jugger-not in just one month.
Alex Rodriguez batted .191 with nine home runs from August on after batting .282 with 24 long balls previously, Mark Teixeira broke his leg resulting in the absence of a competent right-handed bat, and they had a walking corpse operate the second base position.
Through the first three games of the 2016 season, it seems as though those problems have disappeared after the Yankees put up 27 runs in the Opening Series against the Houston Astros.
What’s the cause? Teixeira is producing, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are setting the table, Didi Gregorius is carrying over his second half numbers from 2015, and the name every Yankee fan won’t stop talking about, Starlin Castro.
Through three contests in a Yankee uniform, the 26-year old has a .583/.583/1.250 slash line with two home runs and a league-leading eight RBI.
The more impressive aspect? He’s the number eight hitter.
The New York Yankees lineup has a lineup a lot deeper than it was a year ago. Acquiring Castro, who has hit in the third hole before, from the Chicago Cubs deepened the lineup as much as possible.
In his career in the number eight slot, the three-time all-star has a .339/.414/.504 slash line with two home runs and 19 RBI in 45 games. It’s safe to say the kid is way more comfortable in the cushion of the eight hole rather than batting third with the asinine expectations he had in Chicago.
It doesn’t end with Castro, though. Three games is a small sample size, but they are leading the American League in scoring because everyone is doing their job.
Ellsbury and Gardner have a combined .320 on-base percentage, Teixeira, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran has four home runs with 12 RBI and the Castro/Didi duo has a combined .522/.541/1.000 slash line.
Good luck getting any of these guys out when they’re hot.
The common folk across baseball point to the Toronto Blue Jays and declare them to have the best lineup in the division, but it’s undeniable that the Yankees’ lineup is more valuable top-to-bottom.
Once more, the sample size is peculiar, but if the lineup can continue this tear, they will undoubtedly the AL East. The thought was that starting pitching will make or break them, but Yankee starting pitching has a 7.47 ERA thus far.
In fact, New York is the only team to have a winning record in the AL despite their starting pitching ERA being above 4.24.
It’s doubtful that this rotation will continue to have a 7+ ERA for the duration of the regular season, but it’s relieving to know the starters have insurance from the super bullpen and from the lineup.
Will the Bombers score nine runs per game? No, they won’t, but the depth of this fascinating lineup will prove to make a huge difference throughout 2016.
At the very least, we’ll see a significant increase in production from the second best offense that collapsed a year ago.