Lack of running games mounts challenge for Yankees’ struggling offense

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton runs to second base after a hit.
Inna Zeyger
Friday September 29, 2023

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While MLB is experiencing a resurgence in stolen-base statistics not seen in over three decades, the Yankees have been left behind in this trend. Their offensive woes are only exacerbated by such unathletic approaches that add to their scuffling batting displays.

The rule changes driving the surge in base-stealing across MLB have played into the hands of teams with speed and agility, qualities that have been noticeably absent from the Yankees’ roster. While increasing their stolen base tally, which currently ranks as the 20th in the league at 99, wouldn’t serve as a panacea for the Yankees’ offensive woes, it’s clear that their struggles to generate consistent offensive momentum this season have been exacerbated by their lack of base-stealing prowess.

Manager Aaron Boone admitted on Thursday that it’s an area they aim to continue improving.

“Obviously with the [pickoff limits] and the push in the running game with the bigger bases, yeah, that definitely favors athleticism,” the manager said.

The Yankees lack the speed

As of Thursday, the Yankees had the slowest average sprint speed in the majors, clocking in at just 26.6 feet per second, as reported by Baseball Savant.

According to the website’s metrics, the Yankees have recorded only six “bolts” this season, which are runs at or above 30 feet per second, a benchmark considered as elite speed. Surprisingly, all six of these runs were contributed by three players: Oswald Peraza with three, Estevan Florial with two, and Jasson Dominguez with one.

The slow running of Giancarlo Stanton deprived the Yankees of a run against the Astros on Aug 5, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

Certainly, some playoff-bound teams lack top-tier team speed and haven’t heavily emphasized base stealing. However, they compensate for this deficiency through other aspects of their offensive game, a strategy that the Yankees have struggled to adopt this season.

Giancarlo Stanton’s slow running was one of the worst highlights of the Yankees’ 2023 season.

Manager Boone emphasized that athleticism has always been highly valued, and he didn’t want to downplay its importance in the past. However, he acknowledged that with some of the recent rule changes, athleticism has become even more critical. He mentioned that it’s considered a necessary asset for the future, as it provides a better chance to succeed and win games.

Yankees’ young talents bring an improvement

But the deficiency underscores the importance of the Yankees relying on their emerging younger talents to assume pivotal roles in a potential resurgence next season.

Upon the Yankees’ late August promotions of Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira, followed by Jasson Dominguez‘s call-up on September 1, their remarkable athleticism immediately caught the eye. This was in part a testament to their abilities, but it also raised questions about the composition of the Yankees’ roster throughout most of the season.

Boone pointed out that there are various methods to construct a roster and create a competitive team. They emphasized that athleticism is currently a significant factor in this equation, more so than ever before.

isiah kiner-falefa-new-york-yankees
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe was the Yankees’ leader in stolen bases with 24 before Thursday, although his success in stealing bases has diminished compared to his strong start. The 22-year-old showcased his speed by stealing 13 bases in his initial 41 games, but then saw a slowdown, managing only 11 steals in his subsequent 114 games.

Following Volpe in the stolen base department were Harrison Bader with 17 thefts and Isiah Kiner-Falefa with 13, although neither is anticipated to remain with the team in the upcoming season. Gleyber Torres, with 13 stolen bases, was the sole other Yankee to reach double-digit steals.

The Yankees potentially have more base-stealing options in Peraza and Dominguez. Peraza swiped 33 bases at Triple-A last season, while Dominguez notched 40 steals between Double-A and Triple-A this year.

jasson-dominguez-new-york-yankees
Twitter-NYY

However, to showcase their base-stealing prowess in the majors, they must first get on base consistently to have opportunities to run.

In contrast to their 102 steals last year when the rules didn’t particularly favor base runners, the Yankees’ 98 steals entering Thursday were slightly lower. However, MLB as a whole has seen a resurgence in stolen bases this season, with a total of 3,416 steals through Wednesday’s games, potentially on track for the highest count since 1987 when there were 3,585 steals.

Whether the Yankees can catch up in the base-stealing department next year is still uncertain and will depend on how they reconfigure their roster during the upcoming offseason.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Lack of running games mounts challenge for Yankees’ struggling offense

  1. You neglect to mention torres and others committing really dumb baserunning errors. Also no team can afford to have a guy like dj on a team w a guy like stanton.

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