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How the Yankees’ offense stacks up to the 2018 team

Just how different has this lineup been compared to last year’s?

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Entering into the 2019 season, there was a lot of talk about the potency of the Yankees offense. With sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit anchoring the middle of the lineup, flanked by Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks, the Yankees boasted a one-through-nine that was among the best not only in the game, but over the last ten years. After breaking the all-time season home run record last season, powering the second-most potent lineup in baseball, the team was poised to raise their play to an even higher level this year.

That lineup has not materialized. Judge and Stanton have each missed large chunks of the season (with Stanton returning to the IL with a PCL strain), while Andujar is out for the year with a torn labrum. Even so, aside from a two-to-three week period in the month of May, the team has thrived. That has been thanks in large part to the breakouts of Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier, the revivals of Gary Sanchez and Cameron Maybin, and the steady backbones of DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit, and Gleyber Torres.

The lineup, in fact, has more than thrived, and is currently on pace for approximately the same number of home runs as last year, but are on pace for 50 runs more than last year’s squad. Despite that, however, the numbers tell a conflicting story.

2018 vs. 2019 Offensive Stats Comparison

Stats 2018 2019
Stats 2018 2019
HR/H 19% 19%
HR/162 267 270
HR/XBH 48% 52%
XHB% 40% 36%
2B% 20% 16%
3B% 1.50% 1%
BA 0.249 0.261
OBP 0.329 0.337
SLG 0.451 0.458
OPS+ 111 108
Runs/162 851 900
K% 23% 23%
BB% 9% 9%

With the exception of the home run rate and the AVG/OBP/SLG line, offensive production is down across the board. The team is hitting fewer doubles and triples, but more home runs and singles than last year. Even the total runs is a bit misleading. Whereas last year’s 851 runs was 16% better than league average and second in the AL only to Boston’s 876, this year’s 900-run pace is fourth in the AL and only 15% better than league average. Offense is up across the league, and while the Yankees still remain among the best in the league, the league has more than kept pace with them.

This still does not answer the question as to why the total number of runs are up despite the fact that all the other metrics besides singles are down. It is difficult to find data on the number of home runs hit with runners on base due to singles. However, there is a certain logic to the theory that the increased number of runners on base (as can be seen by the increased OBP due to the increase in singles) makes it more likely for home runs to be hit with runners on base than last year, thus resulting in more runs.

This year’s Yankees team has had a reputation of being focused more on timely hitting than on the long ball compared to the recent past. The numbers show us, however, that while the team has seen an increase in the number of singles, they are more reliant on the home run than ever.

Hey, it’s working.