Where has that Yankee offense gone?

where-has-yankee-offense-gone
Curtis Granderson strikes out. (MLB.com)
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The talk on Friday, before the Yankees beat the Orioles, 3-1 to advance to the A.L.C.S., was about the benching of Alex Rodriguez, mired in a month-long slump. And the conversation on Saturday, when the Yankees lost 6-4 in 12 innings to the Tigers, was about the loss of Derek Jeter, felled by a broken ankle.

Now the Yankees are down 2-0 after losing to the Tigers on Sunday, 3-0, and it's looking like their problems are bigger than Rodriguez's failures and even, possibly, than the loss of Jeter. 

In Rodriguez's case, he is 37, with the attendant dips in performance that usually come during a player's decline years, even one who reached the heights Rodriguez did. And in Jeter's case, he's been playing on an injured foot for weeks, if not months, so the fact that he's suffered a more severe setback in part from compensating for another injury isn't coming out of the blue.

But what to make of this Yankee team's offensive collapse? It's not just that the Yankees were one of just two American League teams to score more than 800 runs in 2012, with a league best O.P.S. of .790 as a team. It is that the offensive talent is so spread out. Jeter, at an O.P.S.+ of 114, was fifth, and Rodriguez, just behind him at 112, was sixth. And the team lacked any real black holes, with the only regular below league average, catcher Russell Martin, at a still respectable 92 on the heels of a strong second half.

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The Yankees put up a .797 O.P.S. in September/October, or better than their season mark. They scored nine runs or more in four of their final six regular season games.

They have scored 13 runs over their past six postseason games, after having scored 14 in their regular season finale alone.

No one is hitting. Rodriguez took the fall, but it's almost everyone. Robinson Cano is 2-for-33 in the postseason, for example. In his final nine regular season games, he was 24-for-39, a .615 batting average. And the statistical story is similar for individual Yankees across the board.

The Yankees now need to travel to Detroit for Games 3-5, trailing in the series, 2-0. And on Tuesday night, they'll face Justin Verlander in Game 3. The reigning A.L. Cy Young Award winner and M.V.P. has an 0.56 E.R.A. in two postseason starts, striking out 22 over sixteen innings. The Yankees had trouble hitting him back when they were still hitting; Verlander struck out 14 Yankees over eight innings when he faced them on August 6.

In a short series, anything can happen. And even a team as talented offensively as the Yankees can stop hitting, at precisely the worst time.

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