Kaapo Kakko may become key to Rangers winning Jack Eichel sweepstakes
Rangers' Jack Eichel interest hangs over Filip Chytil signing
Rangers' Chris Drury should not panic in Jack Eichel trade talks
Rangers' Mika Zibanejad-Jack Eichel conundrum could get awkward
Devils pursuing Dougie Hamilton with unique free agency pitch
Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo were profiles in pinstripes Monday for the first time, when the marquee deadline-proximate acquisitions made their Yankees debuts at the Stadium against the Orioles for the opener of a three-game series and seven-game homestand.
More than that, though, they both fit the historical pinstripe profile as lefty power hitters expected to have the nose and swing for that short porch in right field that has existed at various lengths since The Babe christened the old joint on the other side of 161st Street on April 18, 1923.
It has always been thus for the Yankees through their parade of championships, which hit a roadblock after 2009 that the organization has not been able to surmount. One after another, whether it be Miller Huggins Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Ralph Houk, Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Joe Torre or Joe Girardi, managers would make out lineup cards filled with lefty power.
There were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig with Earle Combs on Murderers’ Row. Bill Dickey, George Selkirk and Red Rolfe joined Gehrig on the mid-to-late 30’s teams, headlined after 1936 by righty Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle, a switch-hitter, was supported by Yogi Berra, Gene Woodling and Joe Collins in the 1950s and then by Roger Maris, Johnny Blanchard and Berra in the 1960s.
The Bronx Zoo of the 1970s featured Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss and switch-hitting Roy White. The 1998 team featured Darryl Strawberry, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, plus switch-hitters Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada. The 2009 team, the last one to ride through the Canyon of Heroes, had switch-hitters Mark Teixeira, Posada and Nick Swisher combining with Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon.
Lefties to the left, lefties to the right, lefties up and down the lineup.
But not this year, in which the Yankees had the second-fewest at bats by lefty hitters in the majors, their total of 773 exceeding only Toronto’s 673. So it kind of followed, didn’t it, that the Yankees entered Monday night’s game 28th in MLB in home runs by lefties, their 24 more than only the Cardinals’ 19 and the Blue Jays’ 14.
Blasphemy in The Bronx.
Listen, the Yankees don’t play in your father’s or grandfather’s Stadium. The right-field stands are now eminently reachable for a righty with pop without poking it down the line. Death Valley, where the left-center field fence was 457 feet away in the original Stadium, is consigned to history and the black-and-white YouTube videos of Al Gionfriddo robbing Joe D. in Game 6 of the 1947 Series and Mantle preserving Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 Series by running down the blast off Gil Hodges’ bat into left-center in the top of the sixth inning.
So having a predominantly righty-hitting lineup might not be the disadvantage it was 25 or 50 years ago, and loading up with lefties might not be necessarily predictive of a trip to the postseason. Maybe that explains general manager Brian Cashman’s aversion to following tradition.
Of course, it is quite possible that difference-making lefty power bats such as Rizzo’s and Gallo’s were not available at a just cost to the Yankees until Friday’s deadline drew near and Cashman was not about to get an inferior lefty at the expense of a stronger righty just so that manager Aaron Boone had more balance on the roster.
When Gallo and Rizzo did become available, Cashman pounced about 24 hours apart. The Yankees leaned left. In doing so, they not only became more balanced while able to present a more traditional lineup, they improved markedly in the field, with Rizzo a plus-defender at first base and Gallo a plus-defender in the outfield.
Gallo, just 1-for-12 in the weekend three-game road sweep of the Marlins, entered Monday tied for seventh in the majors with 25 home runs. He led MLB in walks and was third in strikeouts. Hence, he is the True Outcome King, either hitting a homer, striking out or drawing a walk on 28.35 percent of his at-bats.
Rizzo, meanwhile, does not have quite that feast-or-famine resume following his 5-for-9 series against Miami, which included a pair of home runs that elevated his total to 16, but he’s a legit threat to hit the porch every time.
The Yankees had won five of six, 10 of 14 and 15 of their last 22 to move within one game in the loss column of the second wild-card Mariners and within 5 ¹/₂ games of the first wild-card Red Sox. And after making the big splash at the deadline, which included the acquisition of Monday’s starting pitcher, lefty Andrew Heaney, Aaron Judge said: “We’re the Yankees.”
Now, with Rizzo and Gallo digging in from the left side, they look like the Yankees, too.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article