Excellent outfield defense for one. Instead of going for a bat in CF/LF, Brian Cashman seems willing to opt for defense (which also happens to be cheaper). Another defense-first outfielder was added to the Yanks' minor league system. Javier Herrera was once considered the best defensive outfielder in Oakland's system (though his offense isn't too shabby either). He'll turn 25 in April.
- Another step in the evolution of evaluating catcher's ERA was taken by Max Marchi, who examined the differences in CC Sabathia when pitching to the Yanks two main catchers -
...it seems that Molina's game-calling produces better results both against right-handed and left-handed batters...
Now, it looks like Molina's game-calling is more effective than Posada's, but I invite you not to jump to conclusions. First, it must be noted that Sabathia went on a roll in the second half of the season and, while the two catchers pretty much split duties during that part of the year, Molina caught him only a couple of times when the pitcher was less than stellar early in the season.
Also, Molina's reliance on the sinker came only in the second part of the season. Maybe, when he caught Sabathia back in May, he didn't want to call a game too different from what the pitcher was accustomed to; maybe Sabathia grew more confident in the two-seamer as the season progressed, thus prompting the catcher to call more of that pitch. Anyway, Posada didn't seem to follow suit-until the World Series.
In time, we'll fully understand the way catchers affect pitching.
- Want to catch up on SABRmetrics? Check out Tom Tango's collection of 10 essential articles to read.
- How much of A.J. Burnett's (or any pitcher's for that matter) 'streakiness' is decided by sheer luck? Nick Steiner takes a look and comes to a surprising conclusion -
...I took a pitcher's 10 best and worst starts of the year, in which you'll remember there was an ERA difference of about 8, and found no meaningful differences in terms of what he threw, the velocity/movement of his pitches, where he threw them and when he threw them. I think I've established that there was practically no difference in how he pitched in his good starts compared to his bad starts.
Does this show that all peaks and valleys of performance over a long season are simply due to luck? Of course not. Burnett is only one pitcher. However, I believe that this is a strong piece of evidence to support that notion to some extent.
What is probably more important than any of the aforementioned factors is simply Burnett's ability to get ahead of batters. That seemed the worst attribute in his poor starts.