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Blindsided

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Last season, the Yankees scored 5.97 runs per game, a total of 968 runs.

These season they've averaged 4.85 runs per game, on pace for a 787 total.

Frankly, if you'd asked me to list a half dozen ways for the season to go wrong, the complete disappearance of the offense might not have made the list.  Cano, Jeter, Posada, Matsui, Melky have all been hurt or vastly underperformed.  Toss Wang's injury on top of the insurgent Rays and third place isn't as surprising.

So just for fun, I went through the last 50 years to see if the Yanks had that big an offensive drop off from one season to the next.

The 2000 champs scored 871 runs, while the '01 heartbreakers tumbled to 804.  The '98 juggernaut scored 965 runs, while the '99 championship team only scored 900.  So it took four years for the dynasty Yankees to diminish as much as these collection has in a season.

The offense collapsed in the late '80s too, but the pitching wasn't really good enough for anyone to notice:  772 in '88, 698 in '89, and 603 in '90.  Replacing Dave Winfield with Jesse Barfield will do that to an offense.

The offense vanished in '78.  The Yanks only managed 735 runs, after scoring 831 the year before.  The Yanks rode their pitching to back to back championships.

Another big drop came from '71 to '72.  648 RS down to 557.  Blame that one on Bobby Murcer regressing from super-human (.331/.427/.543, 25HR, 94RBI) to merely very good (.292/.361/.537, 33HR, 96RBI).

The Fall came in 1965, of course: a 120 run dropoff from the previous year's production.  The '64 pennant winners lost the World Series to the Cardinals, scoring 730 runs along the way.  Everyone expected the Yanks to get right up off the mat; it's what they'd always done before.  Mantle only played 122 games, hit .255/.379/.452 (arguably the best on the team), but Maris was only able to contribute .239/.357/.439 in 46 games.  Meanwhile, Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, and Phi Linz all tallied around 100 games with Howard leading the trio hitting .233/.278/.345.  Linz hit a Melky Cabreraian .207/.281/.277.  For the first time the Yankees didn't have major league ready help in the minors.

Surprisingly, there wasn't a big drop off from the '61 Yankees' M&M Boys to '62 (only a 10 run decline).  There was, however, a major step down the next year (103 run decline!) as Mantle missed two-thirds of the season, Maris missed half the year.  The pitching was so good that the Yanks still won the division by 10 games.

From what I've seen, the kind of scoring droughts the Yanks have endured this season seem to come along every generation or so.  Of course, next year's squad could have a radically different look than this year's crew.  But we'll talk more about that after the game tonight.