The Yankees are nine games into the 2015 season, and after the last two seasons, nine games without some sort of catastrophe is solid news. Still, the Yankees would not be such an interesting team to follow if not for fans who would make decisions based on a handful of at bats or a few innings. Here are a few myths about the 2015 Yankees.
1. 2014's workload broke Dellin Betances
After a ridiculously dominant 2014, Betances has dealt with inconsistency in spring training and early April. His alleged velocity dip is marginal at best, and it is important to realize that his velocity improved throughout the 2014 season. If his fastball still isn't cracking the upper 90's in a month or so, it may be time to worry. But considering last year's trend, it is way too early to be concerned with the Yankees' relief ace.
2. Alex Rodriguez is the Yankees' best hitter
Raining on the A-Rod return parade goes against every moral fiber in my body, but it has to be done. Numerous analysts have commented on how obvious it is that he is guessing on almost every pitch. It's only a matter of time before Number 13 gets unlucky. He is also striking out more than 30% of the time. Alex Rodriguez will always be exciting wherever he goes, but if this is where he is at contact-wise, things could get ugly fast.
3. It doesn't make sense that Nathan Eovaldi has so few strikeouts
With his velocity, Eovaldi should be generating a ton of swings and misses. But throwing his fastball in excess of 60% of the time is a huge reason for his lack of whiffs. Myth 3a is that the reason for his fastball not getting whiffs is because it is too straight. Looking at Baseball Prospectus's Pitch F/X leaderboards, there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the natural run on Eovaldi's fastball is the real culprit. Rubby De La Rosa, Joe Kelly, Kevin Gausman, and Andrew Cashner are examples of other pitchers who have frustrated their respective fanbases with their lack of ability to get strikeouts. Like Eovaldi, all of their fastballs averaged more than 94 mph with close to or more than six inches of horizontal movement in 2014. Two seam-like movement is generally associated with pitching to poor contact, not swings and misses.
If Eovaldi absolutely has to throw hard stuff two-thirds of the time, he could consider tweaking his repertoire to include a true four seam fastball and a sinker, then throwing each pitch about 30% of the time. That being said, there is no substitute for having secondary pitches that he can use confidently. His start against the Orioles last night was a step in the right direction. But no matter how hard he throws, MLB hitters can jump on anyone who gets too predictable.
4. Call up Greg Bird and Aaron Judge NOW!
This is not as much of a myth as it is a questionable idea. While both Judge and Bird are very exciting prospects who would fill in for underperforming players, it just isn't happening right away. Both of them had strikeout rates north of 20% at High-A Tampa last season, so bringing them up to face MLB pitching would almost certainly be a disaster. Strikeouts are generally considered to be a great indicator of a minor leaguer's ability to succeed at higher levels. On the positive side, both hitters have drawn criticism for being too patient at the plate. Their high strikeout rates could simply be a matter of being in a lot of two strike counts for no good reason, rather than a lack of ability to make contact.