Keys to winning in the play-offs

Robinson Cano could be one of the keys to a successful postseason–but what are the others?

The Yankees are ¼ of the way to another World Series Championship. After winning the AL East and outlasting the Orioles, the Yankees will have to take the hot hitting they have had at the end of the year and transfer it to the ALDS and for the rest of the play-offs should they advance. Here are some key tips that the Yankees might want to do in order to go all the way in the play-offs.

Pitch Effectively: The Yankees are going to start with CC Sabathia for the first game and with Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and (possibly) Phil Hughes taking a turn on the mound, the Yankees need to make sure that they pitch effectively and try to limit runs as much as they can. If they can do that then it could give the Yankees a chance to score some runs and win some games.

Hit with RISP: Speaking of scoring runs, the Yankees need to hit with runners in scoring position. That has been their Achilles heel throughout the regular season. The Yankees have gotten a bit better with RISP coming down the stretch when it came to clinching the AL East. Let’s see if that transfers into the play-offs.

Play ABC Baseball: I know this is not the Yankees style but this is one of the few effective ways to score runs without trying to swing for the fences. The Yankees have players with some serious speed now that Brett Gardner is healthy; Ichiro Suzuki is playing the outfield and Eduardo Nunez is available off the bench. With guys like that able to steal bases, it allows the Yankees to get base hits and score them. Remember, homers hurt but speed kills.

A-Rod, Teixeira, Swisher—Wake up: The Yankees need Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to wake up from their postseason funks and hit the baseball with authority if they want to make it far. Swisher seemed to have been hitting towards the end of the season but Mark Teixeira since coming back from hurting his calf looks lost at the plate and A-Rod has looked lost at the plate all year. A-Rod and Teixeira are pretty lucky they can’t be traded—Swisher not so much so this would be a great time for Swisher to start hitting.

Robinson Cano, Don’t Ya Know: Robinson Cano has been hitting out of this world for the past week and Yankees fans are only hoping that Cano is able to transfer his hitting skills from the end of the season to the postseason. Cano has looked red hot and he could be the person that carries this team all the way to the World Series—kind of like A-Rod did in 2009.

Are there any other keys to the play-offs that you think the Yankees should follow for a successful postseason? Place your thoughts in the comments below. 




About Delia E.

Delia Enriquez is the managing editor of Yankees Fans Unite. She enjoys analyzing the New York Yankees whether it be their pitching, roster or their manager. You can follow her on twitter @dfiregirl4 for more tweets, analysis and opinion on the Yankees.

Posted on October 6, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 75 Comments.

  1. Nice Delia…
    I think this years run to and winning of the WS, depends more on the group (you mentioned) of…let us be kind and say…low expectations of A-Rod, Teixeira, Swisher (and Granderson). I think we can expect the others to hit as they have all season, against tough pitchers. I believe one of those 4 underachievers may not be enough to make up for past performances, we may need 2 of them! Big reason is, the pitchers are the best for each team, so I don’t look for a lot of runs, on either side.
    Bottom line is all 25 guys will need to take this opportunity as one heck of a challenge, except it, and show that they are Yankees! 🙂

  2. The O’s have a huge pen advantage. If the Yankees are smart they need to make sure they use their platoon bats early. Would Girardi sit Alex for Chavez against a right handed starter?

    • No way you sit A-Rod or Tex, they can win games with one swing of the bat. The Yanks have the advantage on paper, they finished 2nd in hitting, 5th in pitching, and 3rd in fielding in the AL. The O’s finished 9th in hitting, 6th in pitching, and 10th in fielding in the AL. Of course the Rangers also had a big advantage on the O’s. These teams played 18 times during the season so they should know each other.

      • You do not read well do you? Honestly you’re clueless. Alex has not hit right handed pitching over the last month. He’s shown no power at all. Chavez is a better match up early in games then Alex against a right handed starter. One extra base hit in the last 2 weeks isn’t going to win games.

        Your stats are stupid. They did not finish third in fielding unless you believe in fielding percentage. Their starting pitching has not be better then the O’s in September. The pen and bench favor the O’s with more lefty relievers and Thome.

        If this series comes down too managerial decision making the Yankees will lose.

          • Matt he deserves to sit to start games against right handed pitching. Use him as a pinch hitter later in the game against a lefty reliever. The Yankees need to play to win and not placate the egos of so called star players.

            • We have a few good hitters that have trouble hitting Right handed pitchers…A-Rod is about in the middle of the pack, for rightys.
              Question; you going to sit Granderson, Cano, Itchey and Ibaniz when a lefty is pitching? I don’t think so! Why set a guy hitting .274+ against righty pitchers, that is an OK avg.!
              If A-Rod were down around the Mendoza line, I would expect him to be set down…egos be damned!

              • Ken you are wrong.

                Hankies is right………Chavez should start against RH pitching …… The numbers aren’t even close vs Arod. Arod ops 700. Chavez .900

                And we all know Chavez as good as if not better a fielder.

                Egos be damned – Alex should sit.

                Of course he won’t because Giradi won’t make such a surprising move.

                • I don’t think any manager would make that move.

                  • Maybe not, maybe so, what we are debating is SHOULD he make the move.

                    Free says yes
                    Ken says no

                    What does Matt S day?

                  • I agree Matt, the numbers don’t add up.
                    Some seem to forget just the idea of A-Rod being in the line-up has an affect on most pitchers. He helps the line-up more than Chavez.
                    As we were talking about A-Rod vs. STARTING Right Handed Pitching, he is hitting .293 with an .801 OPS against them.

                    • Ken , you are wrong again. Arods OPS vs RHP staters is 100 points lower than Chavez, look it up. He’s been the biggest disappointment on the team. Most Yankees are hoping Chavez is playing, LEAVE YOUR EGOS AT THE DOOR. ITS ABOUT THE TEAM AND WINNING!

                    • I just looked up the stats A-Rod has against Right handed starters and my numbers are right .295 with a .801 OPS.
                      Damn these A-Rod haters! It is about the team not the player but, some say they believe in the team over a player but, every time they have a chance to choose…they go with the player!
                      That’s ok, everyone has a opnion even those that don’t agree with ones own opinion!

                  • I’ll give you 6 managers that would sit Arod

                    1. Billy Martin
                    2. Tony LaRussa
                    3. Joe Torre
                    4. Earl Weaver
                    5. Bobby Valentine
                    7. Ozzie Guillen

                    • Now you are a mind reader! You have many talents Tommy Gun, being a mind reader is just one of many. But, sitting a player that has been hitting .293 (.295 mistake above) vs. Right Handed STARTERS is nuts. Key word here is…STARTERS!
                      It is nice to know what others think, you know what managers and players are thinking. You are very very good. 🙂

                    • Ken – you realize Chavez has an OPS 100 points higher than you quoted for Arod. You also realize that you are counting Abs vs starters only. Did you know batters also hit against middle relievers and closers? And when you count this Arods numbers are mediocre. (.255/700).

                      I say don’t go with the PLAYER because of his name or performance years ago, do what’s best for the team and based on how each have been hitting Chavez is better for the TEAM.

                    • Ok Ken because I like you, I will compromise , since Arod has a high BA vs starters andna low slugging %…….let’s not sit him but let’s move him out of the 3/4 spot.

                      Compromise youngyankee07? 🙂

                    • Yes , lets read minds

                      I believe Ken OR LIKES TWASP because he knows TWASP likes him and loves to keep him on his toes.

  3. Some stolen bases would be nice in this series by the Yankees. But it would be hard to come by as Matt wieters is very good behind the plate.

    • SB would be kind of hard which is why Ichiro/Gardner/Nunez have to be able to outsmart Wieters. Which means they have to be able to get good jumps. But instead of stealing, I’d rather have the fastest guys with the batters play hit and run in case there’s a base hit in the gap or something and it would keep them out of the double play.

  4. Great article Delia. It seems so simple to do for the Yankees, right? Yet I don’t know if they can pull it together because quite frankly we haven’t seen it all year from them really. But if they do pull it off, what you wrote is exactly what they need to do.

    Also, off-topic, but did anyone notice the “Postseason” patches on the teams’ hats last night? Looks like I’m watching the World Series when the Wild Card game is on, lol. Apparently the “Postseason” logo is also going to be painted on the fields, no more series-specific logos until the World Series I guess.

  5. Delia, A-Rod and Tex don’t need to wake up, both are coming off injuries. A-Rod is in better position to do well since he has had more at bats coming off injury than last year. As for Tex, his defense is irreplaceable and to expect him to hit well in the playoffs is not fair. The Yankees built a 10 game lead with these guys in the line-up and started to play better when A-Rod came back. This was no coencidence. The playoffs with be won by good pitching and key hitting, but most of all baseball is a team game.

    • A-Rod and Tex to wake up was in general. I wasn’t talking about just this season. They never have good numbers in the postseason along with Nick Swisher.

      • A-Rod carried us to the 2009 championship! I don’t understand why he is lumped in with Tex and Swisher. He also has won 2 MVPs as a Yankee. Tex also had a great playoff while playing for the Angels. I quess I don’t like the term wake-up, because it insinuates that players can just turn it on and turn it off.

        • Because he has lost his power…he’s not a good hitter against right handed pitching at this time.

        • I don’t know about A-Rod not being able to hit right-handed pitching, his Avg., is about .274 against rightys, since his injury! That is not what we would like to see but…that is what he has to give the team.
          If the O’s start a left hander, my thinking is, they play into the hands of Jeter, Itchy, A-Rod and Nunez.
          We all know Jeter lives off leftys, Itchy and Nunez are also better hitters against port siders.
          The power of Swisher, Tex, A-Rod…in fact, count everyone on the team…is going to be a bonus but, not to be expected.
          We get good contact hits and good pitching, we should win…right? 🙂

        • Hey Doug …if Arod is going to play like the 2009 Arod ….by all means start him against everybody. But Arod has been diminishing ever since.

          Which Arod will show up….is it random ™. ? Or does the latest data show that the 2009 Arod is gone forever?

          • twasp, what is random about the Yanks is what Gardner, Nix, Lowe, Rapada, Joba, Nunez, Tex, and Martin will do in the playoffs.

            • Doug – So what Arod will do is not random? How do you think he will do?

              • twasp, short series are random, not players, the Braves had a good defensive team and gave the game to the Cards, that is random. Over 162 the Braves don’t play like that. The shorter the series the more random it becomes. All players have hot streaks and cold streaks during the season. In the playoffs you hope that your team or players are playing well. The problem is that a player like Cano who is hot might not get pitched to in the playoffs more than during the regular season because of the magnitude of the games and the number of games being played. With the short series and number of series being played everything changes so past stats really don’t mean anything.

                • Doug, those Braves players made the mistakes. It’s on them! Whether they were tight or just had bad days, it was in their control and they lost the game. By calling games random you are saying the players have no control and it’s just God playing chess. I cannot fathom how you as a former player can absolve the players from the responsibility of wins and losses when the playoffs start.

                  We all understand the playoffs are a small sample which means that there can be a wider deviation in stats from a 162 game season. However, it still comes down to which players and teams play the best….it’s still about humans competing.

                  • Random has nothing to do with God quite the contrary. A one game playoff knocked the Braves out and under last years rules the Cards wouldn’t have made the playoffs. I won some championships as a player and as a coach in which the other team was better. In HS the good teams are usually much better, but sometimes teams win because they only have to win that one game. There are many great players that never win a championship, as well as many poor players who are along for the ride with a great pitcher. Fish you have one thing right it’s all about the competition. As John Wooden said, you don’t talk about winning, its about playing well.

        • 2009 postseason was an out of the blue moment for A-Rod. Since then he hasn’t hit at all, even when he’s healthy. He’s been back with the Yankees for a month now so I’m no longer giving him sympathy on the “injury” card. He needs to hit. There’s no way around it.

          • I agree Delia, A-Rod has to start playing close to what his card shows. But, as of right now he is not bad, just not A-Rod of old. If anyone wants to say he should be setting…I can’t buy into that.
            I just think, as do you…he needs to hit!

          • I think it would be foolish to think that A-Rod would do the same as 2009. I think the torch has been passed from the older players like Jeter and A-Rod to players like Cano Grandy, and Tex. We will see if they can carry the team to victory or do we have to depend on the older players.

  6. Ken – a .263 batting avg with a .380 slugging % over the last 28 days is horrible for a number 3/4 hitter.

    It’s funny when Jeter was hitting .270 in 2010 you were calling for his benching and saying Jeter should have asked out of the lineup…… when it’s Arod , you are singing a different tune.

    • Tommy gun…
      The last 28 days is what you go by? Ok, let’s try the last 6 games shall we? Try .304 for the last 6 games.
      See tommy gun, one can knit pick numbers and make them look better than they are or worse!
      Comparing a two month slump to a 28 day avg. is really smart!

  7. 6 games is too small but if you used a normal distribution 2 sided t test …you would find 28 days is a legit samplemsize as it has a significance probability of 2 STD deviations.

    • Good morning, Urban Bloggers. And, yes, I have left my ego at the door. Let’s see…the great Kenny..OR, good morning. And, over there, Tommy Gun?…clever!..where did that come from? Just like old times.

  8. Good morning Patrick…..I’m trying to convince the old Yankee07 that Arod ain’t what he used to be. Henwants him in the starting lineup vs RH …I don’t.

    But since TWASP is open minded I’m willing to compromise and say he can start but not at 3/4.

    Kenny has not responded to my compromise position.

    • Tommy Gun
      I don’t think I ever have said A-Rod is what he once was but, as long as he can hit in the .290’s and 20-30 HRs along with good defense, play him. Bye the bye, .293 season avg., against righty starters is not bad, it’s not the younger A-Rod but, not bad at all.

      • Ok , I agree if Arod can still hit 290 with 30 hrs, 100rbis then i don’t mind him starting and batting in 3/4.

        Unfortunately, he looks to be a .270 hitter with 22 HR power (against all pitching). Low x-base hits and RISP.

        I’m rooting for a turnaround from our big stud because only he or Cano cam carry us thru the playoffs.

        • Ok, I’ll agree with that! We need someone with a little pop to step up. Any one or three of 6 guys will do.

        • twasp and other stat guys- can you explain to me how Saunders pitches a good game agains’t the Rangers when he was 0-6 lifetime going in with a high ERA.

          • Different players now on the Rangers than before?

            • twasp, core players were the same, Rangers were 3-8 in their last 11 games might of had more to do with it. The combination of poor play by the Rangers, and the pressure of playing the underdog O’s after losing to the underdog A’s.

          • Doug – That’s because it is a meaningless stat. Saunders did not face Texas at all this season and hasn’t pitched in the American league since 2005-2010. I’d imagine most of his games vs Texas were from 2005-2010 when he pitched for Anaheim. NOTHING is the same as 3-8 years ago. A better indicator is how did Saunders fare this season……and he’s pitched to a 3.63 ERA for Baltimore. Is it unheard of that he could give up 1 run in 5+ innings like he did on Friday? Of course not.

            Stats don’t tell us what a player will do today or tomorrow….they are simply an indicator of what a player has done in the past. An individuals stats are influenced by all types of other factors from who your teammates are to how your opponent performs. You can’t expect stats from a 162-game season to match up perfectly to the playoffs. You have different competition, different stakes and a smaller sample size. But the game of baseball doesn’t change, it is still 2 teams of world-class human athletes battling each other and who PERFORMS the best wins. Computer calculations, coinflips, God’s will, etc do not determine the winners…..the players do……the team who plays the best wins.

            • Good point fish, you are making my point for me. Stats have next to nothing to do with short playoffs! The Yanks have players like Nunez, Joba, Petitte, Gardner, and others that haven’t played much again’st the O’s this year. The teams that play the best don’t always win, because the nature of the playoffs is to make money not to get a champion.

              • doug, I must disagree.
                Each team gets money only for the series they play in, not how many games. So, in a 5 game play-off they get paid for 3 games, no matter how many more games they play. The teams make money on going to more series and winning.

          • doug, I have a better question for you or anyone;…How could Don Larson PItch a perfect game in the WS? He was a so, so pitcher!

            • old yankee, that’s about as random as it gets, Mazeroski’s homer, and many other events in the series were random, like the Yanks losing to the Pirates, but at least the 2 best teams in each league were playing. There are many unlikely moments in sports that can’t be explained by the best team wins the series. Call it whatever you like. Larsen was a journeymen pitcher who was a legend, while Buckner was a borderline HOFer on his last legs who was a goat.

  9. Fish/Patrick…….I named 6 managers that would have the guts to sit down aging star player for the good of the team. Can you name anymore?

    • No, you said; “I’ll give you 6 managers that would sit Arod”——-Statement or Mind reading

      Not; ” the guts to set A-Rod”—–Opinion

      • Do you think Billy would?

        • Taking a guess, I would say; “Billy would do damn near anything, if it would help the team.” He would have set Jeter when he was in the midst of his slump and he would set A-Rod anytime he was not doing his job. Billy had his problems but, as a manager he would stack up with anyone!
          Billy and Showalter are two of my favorite managers. I have been lucky enough to have had coaches of the same mind-set, in long ago days or, I may never have gotten a shot of playing football or baseball.

    • I think the question isn’t ARod or Chavez but ARod or Ibanez.

      Chavez is the team’s #2 hitter vs RHP and MUST play. Is Alex better than Ibanez vs RHP? Would Ibanez be better as a late game PH as he’s had several big hits this yr? Look at the #s of the 3 players vs RHP below and see which one doesn’t belong.

      2012 vs RHP:
      AlexRod .256/.326/.391/.717 10 HRs,83 Ks in 356 PAs
      Ibanez .248/.319/.492/.812 19 HRs 54 Ks in 360 PAs
      Chavez .298/.365/.543/.908 16 HRs, 46 Ks in 274 PAs

  10. Good morning, Tommy Gun. .Yes, Kenny, I think A-Rod has lost a lot of this bat thrust also. Too many one handed swings, at the wrong times, does not help. My solution, and I have given it some thought ( and yes, I can talk baseball! )………Bat A-Rod ninth, to give Ramiro Pena protection.

  11. Me thinks, you are drinking to much of Tommy Guns cool aid! You would bat a .293 hitter at 9th? And a .229 hitter at 7th+/-?
    Good for you. Just perfect. You have the right to your opinion but, I hope you will excuse me for not agreeing with your idea. 🙂

  12. Ken……Patrick has been reinstated on YfU for his fine knowledge of baseball and Yankee strategy in particular.

  13. Free hankies – when the albatross is batting .200 with 1 HR and 2 rbis……..this series…..everyone will say where was Chavez?

    • Bottom line is this…Alex came back with an .806 OPS on September 3rd. When the season ended it was 23 points lower at .783 which included a good last game or it would be worse.

      As for his hitting splits he started off the season going something like 1 for 25 against lefties. He has since turned that around dramatically with a .924 OPS on the season. That number alone tells me that he didn’t right handed pitching well as the season wore on.

      • Also Alex’s babip for his career is .318. 1st time facing SP .309 babip…2nd time facing SP .324 babip for his career. This year 1st time facing SP .397 babip…2nd time facing SP .449 babip.

        Those numbers suggest he’s been lucky this year.

  14. One constant is that the four teams left in the playoffs all have good pitching. A’s #2, Tigers #3, Yanks #5, and O’s #6.

  15. Yes there is a PATTERN, thus not totally RANDOM ™.

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