After trading for Alfonso Soriano, getting Derek Jeter back and the return of Curtis Granderson, the Yankees anemic offense is likely to improve the rest of the way. With only a few games separating the Yankees from the final Wild Card spot, the Yankees will need that increased production from the offense to qualify. With only a third of the season remaining, is it too little, too late?
First, let's take a look at the production the Yankees have received thus far at the positions that have been upgraded. At shortstop, the Yankees have hit .218/.273/.301 for a wOBA of .261 (Check out the wOBA calculator here). In left field, the Yankees have hit .226/.269/.337 for a wOBA of .287. At designated hitter, the Yankees are batting .207/.291/.353 for a wOBA of.287. Each position will receive roughly 220 more plate appearances before the end of the season.
Derek Jeter-150 PA at SS, 30 PA at DH
Curtis Granderson-180 PA at LF, 20 PA at DH
Alfonso Soriano-170 PA at DH, 20 PA in LF
We'll give the rest of the plate appearances at shortstop and left field to the same players who have been performing poorly up to this point. To determine how much better the replacements will be, I'll use the average of the two rest-of-the-season wOBA projections (Steamer and ZiPS) available at fangraphs.com. Derek Jeter comes in at .319. Curtis Granderson comes in at .346, and Soriano is expected to hit .324 the rest of the way. Here are the runs the players are expected to generate the rest of the season above what the Yankees would receive if the team kept hitting at its current pace.
Derek Jeter-6.96 at SS, 0.77 at DH
Curtis Granderson-8.50 at LF, 0.94 at DH
Alfonso Soriano-5.03 at DH, .59 at LF
Add those runs together and we end up with an extra 22.79 runs over the final third of the season. In a vacuum, those extra runs would be worth two, maybe three wins over the course of the season. However, the Yankees do not play in a vacuum, even if the offense does suck.
The Yankee pitching staff, which has been very good this year, has given up an average of 3.95 runs per game. If they continue that pace for the rest of the year, they will give up an additional 225 runs. At their current pace, the Yankee offense will score 221 more runs. Add in the 23 runs Soriano, Jeter and Granderson will provide, and the Yankees will end up with 243 runs. Using the Pythagorean Win-Loss formula, we can determine the Yankees expected record. In this case, the Yankees expected record is 31-26 for a total of 86 wins, a figure that would still put the Yankees likely on the outside looking in.
The Yankees appear to be one more offensive upgrade away from putting them in a very solid position for the Wild Card. Third base, first base and catcher are all positions where an upgrade could have a positive impact for the pennant race. With a little luck and a solid bullpen, the Yankees may make the playoffs, where a solid pitching staff could propel them to a deep postseason run.
Note: I did run this exercise with Alex Rodriguez just for fun because who knows what will happen with him. Giving him 150 plate appearances at third base would result in 9.36 more runs and an extra win.