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Yankees offense failing to take refuge in the opposite field

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Robinson Cano is one of the few Yankees who has had success driving the ball to the opposite field.
Robinson Cano is one of the few Yankees who has had success driving the ball to the opposite field.
USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows the Yankees' offense has done much better against righties than lefties. This divergence has become so widely acknowledged, even opposing managers have picked up on the trend. Less noted, however, is the Bronx Bombers' performance gap based on where balls wind up getting hit.

Directional Splits: Yankees vs. American League, 2003 to 2013
Directional_splits_medium

Note: Data as of 4/29/2013
Source: fangraphs.com

The 2013 Yankees' lineup was supposed to be a scrappier version of past pinstriped powerhouses. Instead of sluggers swinging for the fences, the Bronx Bombers were expected to rely on smaller ball, but that hasn't exactly materialized. Not only do the Yankees lead the league in homers, but they also rank near the bottom in stolen bases. In addition, the team has done good job either pulling the ball or using the middle, but has lagged considerably when hitting to the opposite field. The personnel is much different, but the Yankees haven't exactly morphed into the Baseball Bunch.

Yankees' PA Breakdown on Balls in Play, 2003 to 2013
Pas_by_direction_medium

Note: Data as of 4/29/2013
Source: fangraphs.com

After 25 games, the Yankees rank as one of the worst offenses when hitting the ball the other way. The team's wOBA of .272 on balls to the opposite field ranks 24th in the majors and well below the .302 composite for the entire American League. Although the Bronx Bombers have had several recent seasons with deflated production when using the off field, before this year, even its worst performances over the past decade have been on par with the A.L. average.

Yankees' Individual wOBA When Using the Opposite Field, 2013
Yanks_opp_field_medium

Note: Data as of 4/29/2013
Source: fangraphs.com

The Yankees have been struggling as a team when going the other way, but their lineup boasts one of the American League's most successful visitors to the opposite field. Robinson Cano's wOBA of .523 in the split ranks 10th best in the league, but otherwise, only Travis Hafner rates meaningfully above average. April is only a small sample size, so it's always possible that the Yankees' directional-based performance will even out, but in the age of detailed scouting reports and extreme shifts, the increasingly one-dimensional nature of the Bronx Bombers' offense is a handicap the team's depleted lineup can ill afford.