A couple months ago we examined the historical relevance that the Yankees' lack of power this year could have. Things have improved a bit since then, but this offense is still dangerously close to another dubious achievement. As of this writing, no Yankee getting regular playing time is particularly close to hitting .300. If that remains true, they will be only the seventh version of the franchise to finish the year without a .300 hitter since 1968. That year, later dubbed "the Year of the Pitcher", hits were so scarce that the only .300 hitter in the AL was Carl Yastrzemski, who won the batting crown with a .301 average. This sparked immediate rule changes that shrunk the strike zone and lowered the pitcher's mound for the 1969 season.
Those rule changes didn't appear to help the Yankees' putrid offense. In 1969, the only ones within striking distance of .300 were Roy White, who hit .290, and the poster boy of unsuccessful Yankee teams in the late '60s and early '70s, Horace Clarke, who hit .285. Just three years later in 1972 they again failed to trot out a .300 hitter everyday but the offense was much improved thanks to a trio of young players beginning to hit their stride in Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer and Ron Blomberg. Murcer and Munson were the top two on the team in batting average at .292 and .280, respectively. Seven years later, the team came into the season feeling the highest of highs after back-to-back World Series championships but then felt the lowest of lows when Thurman Munson tragically died at just 32 on August 2nd. Nobody noticed or cared, and rightfully so, but while that 1979 lacked a .300 hitter, six of the nine regulars hit .280 or better. Lou Piniella and Reggie Jackson led the way as they each hit .297.
Throughout the 1980s, the Yankees offense remained high-powered despite their lack of playoff success. That came to a crashing halt in 1990, when Don Mattingly's debilitating back injury appeared to suck the life out of the team. With him sidelined, the only players that produced at least an average level were young phenom Kevin Maas, aging veteran Jesse Barfield, and Roberto Kelly, a man whose name you no doubt heard uttered earlier this weekend. Kelly led the team with a .285 average. By 1992, Mattingly had worked himself back to being a respectable hitter, but he was still a shell of his former self. The team around him was also getting better, but still not ready for prime time yet. Mattingly's .288 average was a team best.
The latest Yankees team to finish the year without a .300 hitter comes as a surprise. In 2004 they had a full arsenal of offensive weapons that hit 242 home runs, had an on-base percentage above .350, and scored nearly 900 runs. Despite all those accomplishments, nobody broke .300, although Hideki Matsui finished awfully close at .298 for the year. Let this serve as proof that in order to be great, an offense doesn't necessarily need .300 hitters. The ability to get on base and hit for power will always get the job done--just ask the ghost of Earl Weaver.
As the team currently stands in 2014, the offense isn't great for a number of reasons and their lack of .300 hitters is pretty low on the list. Still, unless Brett Gardner remains red hot for the balance of the year or Jacoby Ellsbury puts his bat into another gear, this team is likely to accomplish a rare feat that puts them in questionable company, for the most part.