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Yankees offense searching for consistency after losing top spot in AL East

Aaron Judge Anthony Volpe Yankees
New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, left, and Anthony Volpe (11) react before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Baseball is a funny sport. In the first week of the 2024 campaign, the Houston Astros went from getting swept during opening weekend — giving up a total of 21 runs in four games — to throwing a no-hitter in game five of 162, and then continuing their worst start to a season since 1969.

The Yankees are experiencing a similar phenomenon, most recently highlighted by the fact that they went from scoring 15 runs in a blowout win over the Milwaukee Brewers to getting shut out 24 hours later at Camden Yards by the Baltimore Orioles.

Of course, the standings favor the Yankees much more than they do the Astros.

In games that they win (19 as of Wednesday’s match-up against the Orioles), the Yankees
average 6.68 runs per game, and they win by an average margin of 3.53 runs. In the games that they lose, they score an average of 1.91 runs, and lose by an average margin of 2.55 runs.

Simply put, scoring more than two runs in a game increases the Yankees’ chances of leaving a
ballgame with a win. But there’s more to it than that.

Let’s start with the obvious: the people that are in charge of scoring runs. While it’s impossible for everyone to go 3-for-4 with a walk every day, some notable players have been spotty.

Aaron Judge drew plenty of criticism after going a combined 1-for-16 with two walks during opening weekend — the same weekend where the Yankees swept the Astros. He seemed to
show bits and pieces of the Aaron Judge who broke the American League home run record two seasons ago when he went 4-for-13 with two walks against the Cleveland Guardians, but the bat grew cold again until the team’s series in Milwaukee.

There, Judge was objectively hot: 5-for-12 over three days with two of those hits leaving the park while also working three walks.

So far this season, he has 24 hits. Exactly half of them are singles, a quarter of them are doubles and the last quarter are homers. What Judge does have going for him is that even if he’s on a cold streak, he’s still hard to pitch to given how well he can work a walk. He currently has been walked 23 times, the second-most on the team, so his on-base percentage is at .340, while his batting average is just north of the Mendoza line at .207.

There’s also the question of Anthony Volpe. He’s currently slashing .271/.358/.398, numbers not to be disappointed with. His flattened swing is paying off, but he was even hotter in the start of the season before he was leading off.

The first 11 games he played in the middle of the lineup, and his numbers were .375/.444/.600, going 15-for-40 with five walks in those games. In the other 19 games, where he’s been in the lead-off spot in all of them, his numbers have dipped: .218/.315/.295 from April 10, his debut of leading off this year.

He’s 17-for-78 at the plate with nine walks over the last three weeks of baseball.

While the sample sizes are different, they paint a picture that has been talked about: since
moving up in the lineup, Volpe is not the consistent hitter that he was at the start of the season.

Sure, baseball is chaotic and hard to predict, but some consistency is needed to reinstate some order in the Yankees’ performance.

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