Archive for Yankees

Job Posting: New York Yankees Baseball Operations

Please note, this posting contains multiple positions.

Position: SQL Developer

Position Overview:
The New York Yankees organization is accepting applications for an experienced SQL developer in their Baseball Operations department. This position reports to their senior Baseball Operations executives and will assist in the development of database systems. Their goal is to integrate these systems with existing baseball analytics tools and web-applications as part of their player information and evaluation platform.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Analyze business requirements and design reports using stored procedures to support Yankees front office baseball applications
  • Perform data integrity checks between systems to identify discrepancies
  • Set up ETL operations to import and normalize data from different data providers
  • Performance tuning of SQL objects and queries
  • Work with major and minor league pitch, hit and player tracking datasets, college and other amateur data, international baseball data, and many other baseball data sources

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Must have 3-5 years experience developing in T-SQL
  • Proven experience developing stored procedures, CRUD operations and advanced data manipulation skills with T-SQL (CTEs, pivots, temp tables, XML)
  • Ability to design and layout a database schema from scratch, including table objects, constraints, indexes, foreign keys, and triggers
  • Experience in ETL operations, specifically loading data via different techniques, including bulk loading using BCP operations
  • Experience performance tuning of queries and database objects, including things like table partitioning, index tuning, query hints, locking, schema normalization
  • Ability to utilize SQL Profiler and a thorough understanding of execution plans
  • Excellent communication and problem-solving skills – must be able to breakdown a complex task and put together an execution strategy with little guidance
  • Proven understanding of typical baseball data structures, basic and advanced baseball metrics, and knowledge of current baseball research areas

Job Questions:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • Do you have 3+ years experience writing in T-SQL?
  • Describe techniques you have used for performing data loading operations.
  • How you would approach the identification of a performance issue in a SQL query?
  • Have you ever worked with any baseball datasets before? If so, please describe which ones and how you used them.

To Apply:
To apply, please complete the following application.

Position: Web Application Developer

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Assist in the design and implementation of web-based tools and applications for senior baseball operations personnel
  • Migrate and adapt existing web applications for mobile devices and various hardware platforms
  • Interface with all departments within Baseball Operations (scouting, player development, coaching, analytics) to build tools and reporting capabilities to meet their needs
  • Work with major and minor league pitch, hit and player tracking datasets, college and other amateur data, international baseball data, and many other baseball data sources

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or related field
  • 3-5 years experience with data-driven web application development using:
    • ASP.NET/C# using MVC and WebAPI
    • nHibernate or other O/R framework
    • AngularJS and Bootstrap
  • An understanding of CSS, cross-browser, and responsive web development, including a strong understanding of desktop vs. mobile UI/UX design techniques
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Visual Studio and source code management tools (Subversion, Git, TFS/VSS)
  • Proficient in SQL databases and various database design principles (Microsoft SQL Server a plus)
  • Knowledge of the software development lifecycle (requirements definition, design, development, testing, implementation, verification), Agile, and industry best practices
  • Excellent communication and problem solving skills – must be able to breakdown a complex task and put together an execution strategy with little guidance
  • An understanding of typical baseball data structures, basic and advanced baseball metrics, and knowledge of current baseball research areas a plus

Job Questions:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • Do you have experience writing database-driven web applications, using ASP.Net/C#?
  • Describe one data-driven web application you’ve developed and how you’ve utilized ASP.NET/C# and an RDBMS in its development?
  • Do you have experience with AngularJS or other client-side Javascript framework?
  • List any active websites or mobile applications you have developed (and the technologies they use) that might showcase your work.

To Apply:
To apply, please complete the following application.

Position: Data Engineer

Description:
The New York Yankees Baseball Operations department is accepting applications for an experienced data engineer with a focus on data quality analysis. This position reports to the senior Baseball Operations executives and will assist in the development and maintenance of the Yankees data processing pipelines.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare, clean, format analytical datasets for processing by data scientists
  • Become an expert in the team’s datasets, their strengths and weaknesses, and write code to pull and verify data in response to data scientist requests
  • Using R, visualize complex, multi-source data to pinpoint data quality issues
  • Build automated pipelines for processing and cleaning data
  • Conduct database feature engineering to support ongoing quantitative research
  • Work with developers to create and deploy systems for anomaly detection
  • Interface with data scientists, software developers, and other baseball operations staff as needed
  • Design department-wide principles and workflow for data quality management
  • Serve as the main point-of-contact for questions about data structures, definitions, and quality

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or related field
  • 3+ years of experience developing in SQL (preferably T-SQL)
  • 2+ years of experience with data profiling, data modeling, and data pipeline development
  • 2+ years of experience developing in R (or a similar statistical programming language), including experience with data manipulation and visualization in that language
  • Ability to write succinct code with optimal performance and simplicity
  • Excellent communication and problem-solving skills – must be able to break down a complex task and put together an execution strategy with little guidance
  • An understanding of typical baseball data structures, basic and advanced baseball metrics, and knowledge of current baseball research areas

Job Questions:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • Describe your experience writing in T-SQL.
  • Describe your experience writing in R. What packages do you use most?
  • Describe your experience with data engineering and the specific techniques you’ve used.
  • At a high-level, describe briefly what steps you would take to identify data biases or inconsistencies in an unfamiliar/new dataset?
  • Have you ever worked with baseball data sets before? If so, please describe which ones and how you used them.

To Apply:
To apply, please complete the following application.

Position: Associate, Quantitative Analysis

Description:
This position is a rigorous 12-month program geared to prepare entry level candidates for a career within the Baseball Operations industry.

Responsibilities:

  • Assist in research and analysis of various baseball topics
  • Design, test and implement predictive models using advanced statistical techniques
  • Prepare, manage, and visualize large-scale data sets
  • Develop processes for monitoring and ensuring data quality across multiple data sources
  • Responsibilities may also include data collection and entry, running database queries and administrative tasks

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in a Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science or related field required
  • Experience building predictive models, preferably in R
  • Computer programming experience
  • Experience using SQL
  • Familiarity with current baseball research
  • Understanding of fundamental concepts in statistics and probability

Job Questions:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • When are you available to start?
  • What classes have you completed in math, statistics, probability, and/or computer science?
  • Describe any previous experience building statistical models.
  • Which programming languages are you proficient in and what is your preferred language? If applicable to the language, please describe any libraries/packages you use.
  • Describe any previous experience using SQL, if any.
  • Please list any previous baseball/softball experience. This can include playing experience, research experience, coaching experience, writing experience, and more.
  • Will you now or in the future need visa sponsorship status to lawfully work in the United States?

To Apply:
To apply, please complete the following application.

Position: Associate, Baseball Operations

Description:
This position is a rigorous 12-month program geared to prepare entry level candidates for a career within the Baseball Operations industry.

Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate and prepare advance scouting material for the New York Yankees
  • Support the Baseball Operations and Pro Scouting staffs with daily logistical tasks
  • Chart select games from video, as well as execute additional video projects
  • Introductory level player evaluation
  • Assist with various research tasks
  • Data collection and entry
  • Administrative tasks as assigned

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • Experience working with BATS coaching system
  • Must be able to recognize pitch types and know how to score a baseball game
  • General understanding of MLB rules and regulations
  • Detail oriented and organized
  • Strong verbal communication and collaborative skills
  • Experience working with video and in baseball

Job Questions:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • What is the earliest date that you are available to start the Associate program?
  • What are your favorite statistics for evaluating baseball players?
  • What are your favorite baseball-related websites, books, or podcasts?
  • Who do you think are the five best starting pitchers in MLB right now?
  • Do you have any previous baseball or softball experience? Please provide specific examples.
  • Will you now or in the future need visa sponsorship status to lawfully work in the United States?

To Apply:
To apply, please complete the following application.

These descriptions are intended to describe the type of work being performed by a person assigned to these positions. They are not an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities required by the employee. The New York Yankees is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The company is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment.


FanGraphs Audio: Dan Szymborski Analyzes All the Postseason

Episode 839
Dan Szymborski is the progenitor of the ZiPS projection system and a senior writer for FanGraphs dot com. He’s also the guest on this edition of the program, during which he examines which managers have produced the best performances of the postseason. Also: Szymborski’s argument for playing Matt Kemp at shortstop. And: a status update on the forthcoming projections for 2019.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 49 min play time.)

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Gregorius’s Tommy John Surgery Lights the Hot Stove

At the Yankees’ end-of-season press conference at Yankee Stadium on Friday, the team revealed that shortstop Didi Gregorius will undergo Tommy John surgery and, as a result, miss a substantial portion of the 2019 season. For better or worse, the announcement of his absence threw plenty of fuel on a hot-stove fire that’s been lit early by the Yankees’ elimination, as this would appear to intensify the team’s interest in pending free agent Manny Machado.

First, Gregorius. Manager Aaron Boone believes that the 28-year-old injured his right elbow while retrieving a rebound off Fenway Park’s Green Monster during one of the AL Division Series games, though general manager Brian Cashman said that when the team acquired him from the Diamondbacks in December 2014, he already had a partial tear that was “asymptomatic” and that the current tear was “the finishing part of something that was a sleeping giant.”

Either way, it’s a bummer. Gregorius is coming off a breakout season in which he recorded a .268/.335/.494 like with 27 homers, 10 steals, a 122 wRC+, and 4.6 WAR. All but the batting average represent career highs. He did all of that while missing 16 games in August and September due to a bruised left heel and then five games in late September due to a cartilage tear in his right wrist. Playing through the latter injury, he went 4-for-17 with a double in the Yankees’ five postseason games.

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The Yankees Have a Lot of Payroll to Use

The Yankees’ 2018 campaign came to a disappointing end on Tuesday. After a 100-win regular season that, under normal circumstances, would have won them the division, they were forced to face the A’s in the American League’s Wild Card game. And while they managed to get past Oakland, New York ran into trouble against a Boston club that produced 108 victories, losing the final two games due, in part, to rookie manager Aaron Boone’s reluctance to utilize his bullpen.

Now the focus for the Yankees moves to 2019, when the team will be forced to compete not only with the Red Sox but also the lofty standards set by the club’s 2018 season.

In a sense, 2018 was a transition year for the New York. On the one hand, yes, they began the season by trading for the National League MVP and ended it with 100 wins. On the other, though, rookies — most notably Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres — accounted for 1,528 of the club’s plate appearances, the highest total for the franchise since 1969, when Bobby Murcer became a full-time starter. The club’s 5.7 WAR from rookie position players is the third-highest total in the past 30 years behind only last season (due solely to Aaron Judge) and 1989 (when Alvaro Espinoza, Bob Geren, and Roberto Kelly were rookies).

As part of their “transition,” the team finally reduced their payroll by a sufficient amount to avoid the competitive-balance tax and reset the penalties associated with it. From 2014 to -17, the Yankees spend an average of $256 million per year in payroll and penalties combined, per Cot’s Contracts. This season, they are likely to end up around $195 million. The Yankees, in other words, just cut payroll by $60 million. And not only that: because they drew 300,000 more fans than last season and also face a more modest revenue-sharing burden under the new CBA, New York likely ended up with $100 million more in 2018 than previous seasons. In light of that, it’s unsurprising to find that the organization is reportedly planning to buy back the YES Network from Disney when the latter sells it off to acquire part of FOX’s assets. The Yankees are awash in cash, and they shouldn’t have any limitations in free-agent spending this offseason.

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The Sense Behind Ripping the Manager

The whole division-series round went just two games more than the minimum. The last team eliminated, of course, was the Yankees, who lost Game 4 to the Red Sox on Tuesday. There’s a whole host of reasons why the Yankees lost the game, and why the Yankees lost the series. But I’m going to remember one or two moments. There was the Eduardo Nunez throw to an outstretched Steve Pearce to record the very final out. I wasn’t at any point convinced Nunez had it in him. And there was also what happened mere minutes before. Craig Kimbrel faced Gary Sanchez with one out and the bases loaded in a two-run game. The count ran full. The call was for a high fastball.

The pitch selection wasn’t surprising. Kimbrel throws a bunch of high fastballs. Sanchez had already swung through two high fastballs. When Kimbrel works in two-strike counts, he throws either a fastball high or a breaking ball low. That’s what Kimbrel always tries to do. Against Sanchez, he didn’t execute. Against Sanchez, he threw one of the worst Kimbrel fastballs imaginable.

Granted, even a bad Kimbrel fastball still gets up there really fast. But Sanchez was ready. A two-strike count is a swinging count. Sanchez made contact and hit the ball in the air. It came off his bat at 107 miles per hour.

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Another Slow Hook Helps Send Red Sox to ALCS

A night after he was pilloried, both here and elsewhere, for sticking with his starting pitcher for too long, Yankees manager Aaron Boone did it again — this time in an elimination game. It wasn’t quite as egregious, and it didn’t turn the contest into a blowout, but the rookie skipper was short on urgency with his team’s season on the line, and it cost them. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-3 in Game Four of the AL Division Series (box), closing out the series on their rivals’ home field and moving on to the ALCS for the first time since 2013.

With the Yankees down two games to one in the Division Series, Boone started CC Sabathia, who at 38 years old is long on experience and guile but short on stamina. Of the 128 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings as a starter this season, the big man’s 5.28 innings per turn ranked 102nd. It didn’t prevent him from turning in a valuable season: over the course of 153 innings, he delivered a 3.65 ERA, 4.16 FIP, and 2.5 WAR, the last mark 0.6 wins higher than last year in a similarly sized body of work (148.2 innings). Some credit for that is due to Boone for limiting Sabathia’s exposure the third time through the order (when his wOBA allowed jumps to .391), and some to the pitcher himself, for accepting his role and his limitations.

On Tuesday night, against a lineup stacked with righties — Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez were back at second and third bases, respectively, in place of Game Three heroes Brock Holt and Rafael Devers, while Steven Pearce subbed again for Mitch Moreland at first base — Sabathia wobbled through the first inning on 20 pitches. After retiring the first two hitters, he loaded the bases with two singles and a walk before escaping via a towering Kinsler fly ball that left fielder Brett Gardner ran down near the foul line. He prolonged his second inning with a two-out walk of Christian Vazquez, the No. 9 hitter and a guy who posted a 42 wRC+ in the regular season. That required him to face leadoff hitter Mookie Betts again. On the 15th pitch of the inning, though, Betts hit a routine fly to right for the third out.

Sabathia was in trouble from the outset of the third, hitting Andrew Benintendi with a pitch and then yielding a single to Pearce that sent Benintendi to third; he soon came home on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly, the game’s first run. Sabathia induced Xander Bogaerts to ground out, but by this point had thrown another 16 pitches, running his count to 51. Boone, with a rested set of A-listers (save for Chad Green, who threw 29 pitches on Monday night, at a point well after any of them mattered), had finally gotten David Robertson up in the bullpen — the kind of power arm sorely needed in mid-inning on Monday night, but one who never got the call.

Kinsler smoked a double (exit velocity 106.2 mph) over Gardner’s head in left field, scoring Pearce and putting the Red Sox up by a score of 2-0.

Boone stayed put.

Nunez hit an RBI single to right, pushing the tally to 3-0.

Boone stayed put.

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Boone Fiddles While the Bronx Burns

NEW YORK — In stark contrast to the proficiency with which he handled staff ace Luis Severino in the Yankees’ AL Wild Card win, pulling the right-hander after four electrifying (if wild) innings, manager Aaron Boone appeared to be caught flat-footed last night in Game Three of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox.

Well equipped to handle Severino’s heat, the Boston lineup — featuring four players who didn’t start Game Two — hit scorcher after scorcher off the 24-year-old righty through the first three innings, building up a 3-0 lead in the process. By the time Boone came out of the dugout, three batters into the fourth inning, he was too late. The pitcher to whom he turned offered little relief, too. The resulting seven-run outburst broke the game open, paving the way for the Red Sox to humiliate the Yankees 16-1, the most lopsided postseason loss in the franchise’s history and one that pushed them to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five series.

The small fraction of the 49,657 attendees who stuck around to the bitter end witnessed not only that bit of history but another, as well, as Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt became the first player ever to hit for the cycle in a postseason game. The coup de grâce came in the form of a two-run ninth-inning homer off Austin Romine, normally the Yankees’ backup catcher but here just the second position player ever to pitch in a postseason game.

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Sunday Notes: The Voice of the Indians Flirted with a Pigskin Tiger

Tom Hamilton has been the radio voice of the Indians since 1990. Very early into that tenure there was a chance — albeit a small one — that he would move on and spend the bulk of his career elsewhere. How might that have happened? In the winter following Hamilton’s second year in Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers inexplicably informed iconic broadcaster Ernie Harwell that 1991 would be his final season in the booth.

“Ernie told me that I should apply for the job, or at least go if I got called,” Hamilton explained. “I felt uncomfortable about that — nobody wanted to see Ernie have his career end that way — but he came to me and said that I should. The Tigers did call, so I interviewed even though I didn’t really have an interest. Not only was I happy in Cleveland, I didn’t want to be the guy following Ernie.”

Rick Rizzs, who is now in Seattle, ended up getting the job. Predictably, he wasn’t well-received. While Rizzs was, and remains, a quality baseball play-by-play announcer, that means little when you’re stepping into the shoes of a legend.

Another Wolverine State sports legend made Hamilton’s reluctant interview more than worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »


The Restoration of Dellin Betances

Although the Yankees ultimately put the A’s away by a somewhat lopsided margin, it was right in the middle that the A’s had some life. Luis Severino was surprisingly allowed to start the top of the fifth, and with the score then just 2-0, he gave up consecutive singles. Matt Chapman was due up. He’d be followed by Jed Lowrie. He’d be followed by Khris Davis. Aaron Boone went to his bullpen, with the game threatening to swing in the other direction. The pitcher he went to was Dellin Betances.

Within a few minutes, the inning was over, and the score was preserved. Betances went 1-2-3 again in the sixth, and then the Yankees pulled away. According to Win Probability Added, Betances wound up making the biggest positive contribution on the Yankees’ roster. Such territory was hardly uncharted; Betances was one of the best relievers in baseball for years. But in 2017, he lost the ballclub’s trust. Joe Girardi didn’t even use him in the wild-card game, and subsequent appearances were mostly low-leverage. A year ago, Betances had nobody’s faith. Wednesday, he was first out of the pen.

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Yankees Defeat Surprising A’s Bullpen in Less Surprising Way

NEW YORK — It was a nice, tight AL Wild Card Game until Fernando Rodney showed up. Through five-and-a-half innings, the Yankees led the A’s 2-0 on the strength of a two-run first-inning homer by Aaron Judge off opener Liam Hendriks and an effectively wild four innings from Luis Severino, backed by a pair of dominant frames from Dellin Betances. The Oakland lineup had managed just two hits to that point while striking out 10 times, yet the A’s were still in the game thanks to the four scoreless innings they got from the two pitchers who followed Hendriks — namely, Lou Trivino (who matched his season high with three innings) and Shawn Kelley. A’s manager Bob Melvin, who had elected to bullpen his way through the game, had another decision to make with Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton due up for the sixth.

He chose poorly. The much traveled 41-year-old Rodney, who had been acquired from the Twins on August 9, had not pitched particularly well for the A’s, turning in a 3.92 ERA and 4.52 FIP in 20.2 innings; in September, he was rocked for an 8.38 ERA while walking 10 in 9.2 innings. Melvin literally had half-a-dozen alternatives upon which to call for what might be the most daunting and important stretch left on the table. Nobody would have raised an eyebrow if he’d tabbed Jeurys Familia, Yusmeiro Petit, or rookie J.B. Wendelken, all of whom fared better than Rodney in September.

Rodney got a called strike on a first-pitch sinker, but his second offering was doubled down the right-field line by Judge. Two pitches later, Hicks doubled to center field, expanding the Yankees’ lead to 3-0. A wild pitch sent Hicks to third base as Stanton stepped in, and Melvin had no choice but to pull him and call upon Blake Treinen to save not the game but the season.

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Laying Out the Look of the Wild-Card Pitching

In just a few hours, Luis Severino is going to throw the first pitch of the American League wild-card game. Some relatively short amount of time after that, Liam Hendriks will take the mound. Severino is one of the better starting pitchers in either league. Hendriks is a reliever who, in the middle of this very season, was designated for assignment. As far as the first inning goes, it’s…not an equal matchup. Or it doesn’t feel like one, at least. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

As Jay Jaffe has already written today, the Yankees are using a starter, while the A’s are planning on bullpenning. Hendriks has gotten used to being an opener, but this is going to be a little different, because he won’t be followed by a “bulk guy.” It’s likely to be Oakland relievers all the way down. This is the concept someone always advocates every year around this time, for a winner-take-all, one-game playoff. It’s no way to manage a pitching staff every day of every week of every month. The A’s don’t have to worry about that tonight. All that matters is what’s right before them.

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David Cone, J.A. Happ, and Jake Petricka on Developing Their Sliders

Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In this installment of the series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — David Cone, J.A. Happ, and Jake Petricka — on how they learned and developed their sliders.

———

David Cone, Former Cy Young Winner and Five-Time All Star

“I grew up gripping the baseball the same way. Right along the seams, on top of the baseball, was a two-seam fastball. I threw my slider the same way. All I would do was bring both fingers inside the seams a little bit, just to get some friction. I basically threw a two-seam slider my whole career. I’ve seen a few other pitchers who do it that way. Not many.

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The Opener Goes to the Postseason

This year’s AL Wild Card Game will be a battle of competing philosophies, at least when it comes to the choice of starting pitchers. On Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, the opposing managers announced their picks for Wednesday night’s game. The Yankees have decided to remain old-school, with manager Aaron Boone tabbing 24-year-old righty Luis Severino, an All-Star who despite second-half struggles finished fourth in the league in WAR (5.7) and in a virtual tie for fifth in FIP (2.95) — and one whose early exit in last year’s Wild Card Game pushed the Yankees into a bullpen-oriented approach anyway. As for the A’s, a club whose rotation has has lost staff ace Sean Manaea and five other starters to season-ending surgeries, manager Bob Melvin is going the new-school route, with 29-year-old righty Liam Hendriks as his opener — a first of sorts. In eight September starts, Hendriks threw a combined 8.2 innings.

Together, the choices offer something of a callback to a year ago. Heading into the AL Wild Card game, then-manager Joe Girardi was ambivalent about the possibility of saving Severino for a potential Division Series Game One and relying upon his wealth of dominant relievers to face the Twins. “You could do that but that’s not something you’ve done during the course of the season,” Girardi told reporters. “And we have some starters who are pretty qualified to make that start… If you start doing crazy things, things guys aren’t used to, then I’m just not comfortable doing it. You want to keep it as normal as possible.”

Despite Girardi’s reservations, it was clear that the Yankees were built for such a scenario thanks to general manager Brian Cashman’s July 19 (re)acquisition of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to add to a bullpen that already included Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. “A veritable clown car of effective righties who can miss bats and take over before Twins batters get too familiar with Severino,” is how one wag put it.

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The Manager’s Perspective: Josh Bard on Process and the Distillation of Data

To date, Josh Bard’s managerial experience consists of a single game. In early September, he assumed that role while Aaron Boone was serving a one-game suspension. Don’t expect it to represent the end of his time in that capacity for a big-league team.

Currently in his first season as Boone’s bench coach with the New York Yankees, Bard is viewed by many as a future MLB manager. And for good reason. The 40-year-old former journeyman catcher has long been lauded for his interpersonal skills, and he’s been honing his analytics chops for years. Prior to joining the Yankees, the Texas Tech product spent five seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, initially as a special assistant to the general manager. More recently, he served as the forward-thinking NL West club’s bullpen coach in 2016 and 2017.

Where will Bard be employed in the years to come and in what capacity? Multiple teams will be interviewing managerial candidates this offseason, and Bard’s name is certainly being bandied about in front offices. While he’s happy in New York, other opportunities surely await.

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Josh Bard: “My biggest role as bench coach is being a translator from the analytics group down to the dugout. I’m making sure that all the information we have is distilled down to the simplest way to understand it, not only for the staff, but also the players. My role is more pregame. It’s postgame review. What can we do better?

“Zac Fieroh is one of our analytics guys, and he’s with us every day. I give Brian Cashman and Michael Fishman, and that whole group, a lot of credit. They really pushed for him to be in there, and he’s done an awesome, awesome job.

“It’s funny. When you look at Oakland, or at L.A., or at Tampa, you think they’re these analytics juggernauts. That’s the perception. They are very good at it — don’t get me wrong — but when you look at us, that’s not really the perception. Well, when I came here from L.A., the information here is as good, if not better, than anywhere I’ve been.

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The Yankees Have a Shot at Some Home-Run Records

In addition to forestalling the Red Sox’ attempt to clinch an AL East title on the Yankees’ turf, Neil Walker’s three-run shot off the Boston’s Ryan Brasier on Tuesday night gave New York a share of one major-league record. Wednesday night’s pair of homers from Luke Voit and another from Miguel Andujar gave the club a share of a franchise record and inched them closer to two more major-league ones. In these homer-happy times, nobody loves the long ball as much as the Bronx Bombers.

Walker’s homer, a towering, second-deck blast to right field, was his 10th of the season.

That gave the Yankees 11 players in double digits, tying a mark that has been matched in each of the past four years, a period that admittedly has produced three of the four highest per-game home run rates in history (1.26 per team per game in 2017, 1.16 in 2016, and 1.15 this year).

Teams with 11 Players Hitting 10-Plus Home Runs
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference
Players are listed alphabetically, not by home run totals.

This year’s Blue Jays could join the above 11×10 list if rookie Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hits two more homers over the remainder of the season, while the Yankees similarly have a shot at separating themselves from this pack if Voit, who didn’t even debut with the team until August 2, adds one more. Voit’s homers on Wednesday night, which were less majestic than Walker’s, represented his eighth and ninth since joining the team.

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Masahiro Tanaka Is Getting Well at the Right Time

When the Yankees put Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list back on June 9, it didn’t appear to represent a massive blow to the club. The team was 42-19, in a virtual tie for first place with the Red Sox. Luis Severino was pitching like a Cy Young frontrunner. Tanaka, for his part, was having an inconsistent season. When he went down with hamstring injuries, he’d recorded a 4.96 FIP and 4.58 ERA for the season and had given up 10 homers in his previous six starts. The intriguing Jonathan Loaisiga was about to take Tanaka’s spot in the rotation — and would perform well in his absence — further limiting the potential damage of Tanaka’s loss.

Fast-forward three months and circumstances have changed pretty considerably. Severino has cooled considerably, while other rotation pieces like Loasigia and Domingo German have fallen off the radar, having been replaced by solid additions in J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn. Without Severino fronting the rotation, however, the team lacks a pitcher with potentially dominant stuff to start the Wild Card game, leaving the possibility of a second straight involuntary bullpen game for New York in a winner-take-all matchup. Now Tanaka might be the best candidate for that role.

The Yankees right-hander has always been very reliant on breaking stuff out of the zone to get batters out. His fastball sits in the low 90s and isn’t notable for a lot of rise (the four-seamer has a career 5.2% whiff rate) or a ton of sink (his two-seamer has a ground-ball rate below 50%), so he needs batters to swing at his offspeed pitches to be successful. That plan has worked over the course of his career. The graph below shows how often pitchers throw in the zone and how often batters swing at offerings out of the zone.

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Using Contact Quality to Sort Out the AL Cy Young Mess

The American League Cy Young race is pretty messed up this season. The current WAR leader, while apparently healthy, might throw so few innings in September that he fails to qualify for the ERA title as a result. The pitcher currently ranked second by WAR in the league hasn’t pitched in a month. A third pitcher who, as of July 1, had authored a sub-2.00 ERA and fantastic peripherals — and was probably the favorite for the award — is now an afterthought.

Overall, there are probably eight candidates who deserve to appear on a ballot — and that’s without even considering the credentials of dominant relievers like Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen. Voters, however, can only choose five names — and, as a result, it is possible that totally defensible ballots will omit the eventual winner (or that a pitcher who would have otherwise won will be omitted from a totally defensible ballot).

As I noted yesterday with regard to the NL’s Cy Young field, this award invites multiple questions about how best to evaluate pitching performance. Unavoidably, one’s choice for Cy Young will depend on how one weighs what a pitcher can and cannot control — and how best to quantify those effects. In this post, I’ll look at various metrics and consider the implications of each regarding luck, defense, and pitcher skill.

Before we get to how contact and defense might be playing a role in voters’ minds, though, let’s look at some fairly standard statistics at FanGraphs.

AL Cy Young Contenders
Metric Chris
Sale
Trevor Bauer Gerrit Cole Justin Verlander Corey Kluber Luis Severino Carlos Carrasco Blake Snell
IP 146 166 182.1 195 195 173.2 169 157
K% 38.7% 31.5% 34.6% 33.6% 25.6% 28.5% 29.3% 30.4%
BB% 5.8% 8.2% 8.1% 4.6% 3.8% 5.9% 5.0% 8.8%
HR/9 0.62 0.43 0.84 1.25 1.06 0.98 1.01 0.86
BABIP .276 .298 .286 .277 .269 .317 .322 .250
ERA 1.97 2.22 2.86 2.72 2.91 3.52 3.41 2.06
FIP 1.95 2.38 2.70 2.96 3.19 3.05 2.95 3.08
WAR 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.8 4.8 4.9 4.6 3.7
Blue=First
Orange=Second
Red=Third

Jay Jaffe made the case for Chris Sale’s candidacy last week, and that case certainly looks quite strong — or would, if the season ended today. Problem is, Sale might not get too many more opportunities to build said case. The left-hander is scheduled to throw two innings for Boston today and then another three innings on the 16th. If he records those five innings and then, say, another 10 over his final two starters, he won’t qualify for the ERA title and will potentially allow other pitchers the opportunity to catch up in value.

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Luke Voit Has Been the Best Hitter of the Trade Deadline

When the Yankees acquired Luke Voit from the Cardinals on July 29 in exchange for pitchers Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve, the deal seemed like little more than a footnote, an incremental upgrade of a contender’s organizational depth, sweetened by the inclusion of international bonus-pool money. Nonetheless, the deal has yielded the hottest hitter of any who changed teams in the weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline — albeit in a limited sample size — and, for the moment, a solution to the Yankees’ ongoing first-base woes.

At the time of the trade, the Yankees appeared committed to Greg Bird, an oft-injured 25-year-old lefty who had started 47 of the team’s 56 games at first base since returning from surgery to remove a bone spur in his right ankle. Bird extended that stretch to 66 starts in 78 games into late August, but by that point he had slipped into an 0-for-21 slump. With a banged-up offense feeling the absences of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius, manager Aaron Boone suddenly turned to Voit (toined to Voit to avoid Boid and fill da void, if you’re speaking Brooklynese), who has started 11 of the team’s past 14 games. The decision has paid off.

Entering Wednesday night’s game against the A’s, Voit — a beefy, amiable lug (6-foot-3, 225 pounds, seemingly with an ever-present smile) — had homered seven times in 65 plate appearances for the Yankees, batting .322/.385/.678 for a 185 wRC+ since the trade. Five of those homers either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead, including this eighth-inning go-ahead shot against the A’s on September 4, which marked Voit’s third straight game with a dinger:

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The Best Deadline Trade of the American League

When the New York Yankees grew concerned about their rotation for the rest of the season, they made a pretty big move to get J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays. In Brandon Drury, they traded a young player with success at the major-league level. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel ranked Drury the fifth-best minor leaguer traded at the deadline. The club also gave up Billy McKinney, who ended up 19th on the same list. It wasn’t an inconsequential deal.

Happ has been everything the team could’ve hoped for. He’s recorded a 3.95 FIP and 2.37 ERA since joining the Yankees. He’s been worthy roughly half a win. He looks like he’ll be an asset for a team that’s bound for some kind of postseason play. He’s also not even the top-performing pitcher his own club acquired at the deadline.

Rather it’s Lance Lynn who has put up the best park-adjusted FIP of any pitcher acquired at the trade deadline — including Cole Hamels — as the following table indicates.

Notable Starter Trade-Deadline Acquisitions
Name Team IP WAR K% BB% ERA- FIP-
Lance Lynn Yankees 31.2 1.2 27.7 % 6.6 % 92 47
Cole Hamels Cubs 39.0 1.4 25.7 % 7.4 % 17 55
Kevin Gausman Braves 32.0 0.8 18.0 % 5.7 % 42 72
J.A. Happ Yankees 24.1 0.6 30.3 % 7.1 % 60 81
Nathan Eovaldi Red Sox 25.0 0.6 13.7 % 3.4 % 114 82
Chris Archer Pirates 22.1 0.2 22.4 % 8.4 % 162 116
Numbers as of August 30.

Cole Hamels has been fantastic, but when you factor in both Yankee Stadium and the American League, he’s produced the better fielding-independent numbers. (With his edge in innings, Hamels’ has recorded a higher WAR.) Nor is it just against trade acquisitions that Lynn fares well. Here are the top pitchers by WAR this month.

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If Not Aaron Judge, Then Andrew McCutchen for Yankees

When Aaron Judge went down with a wrist injury at the end of July, the Yankees didn’t appear to be a club in dire straits. While there would be no replacing the American League’s 2017 WAR leader, the team would still be in decent shape, having entered the season with three talented outfielders beyond Judge in Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Things haven’t quite worked out as expected, though. Stanton has played mostly designated hitter, while Gardner has struggled offensively. The result: a possible weakness in the lineup where one wasn’t anticipated. With the Yankees’ acquisition of Andrew McCutchen, however — a deal first reported by Buster Olney — the lineup should benefit considerably.

Joel Sherman has reported that two prospects would go back to the Giants if and when the deal is confirmed, including infielder Abiatal Avelino. The 23-year-old reached Double-A in 2016, spent some time in three levels last year, and moved back and forth between the two highest minor-league levels while destroying Double-A pitching and struggling in Triple-A.

Update: Jim Bowden is reporting the other player in the deal Juan De Paula, currently a starter in Low-A, and Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Yankees are splitting the roughly $2.5 million remaining on McCutchen’s deal. 

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