All season long the New York Yankees have been plagued by an inability to get runners across the plate in key situations. One spot that has been particularly weak in the dreaded “runners in scoring position” category has been catcher. Combined, catchers Russell Martin and Chris Stewart have a .200 batting average, and when it comes to RISP they are hitting .226.
While it was made clear to all of us that Stewart was brought on board for his defensive prowess, at what point do we say that getting on base and driving runners home must be given a higher priority?
This season the New York Yankees have lost eight games by 2 runs or less. In those eight games the catchers are hitting .240 with three RBI.
How many of those games would the Yankees have won if they had a catcher who could hit his weight? How many more RBI opportunities would Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson have had if someone at the end of the lineup could get on base? With just three of those eight defeats turned into victories, the New York Yankees would be on top of the American League East Division.
Maybe it’s time we brought Francisco Cervelli back up to the big league club.
In the three seasons Cervelli saw significant time in the Bronx, his batting average was .278. With RISP, his average for each of those three seasons was .360, .316, and .302. It would be nice to actually have a threat in the eighth or ninth spot again, wouldn’t it?
As was widely reported, Cervelli struggled initially upon his demotion to Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Everyone saw how emotional it was for the 26 year-old to find out on the last day of Spring Training that the club had acquired someone else to take his role in the Bronx. Obviously it took some adjusting on his part, and he started the minor league season hitting .159 through the first couple of weeks. On May 3rd his average was sitting at .227, and as of today it is up to .254. It looks as though the old New York Yankees Francisco Cervelli is hitting like he used to. At Scranton he has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 contests, holding a .364 average over that period.
Yes, Chris Stewart represents a significant upgrade defensively at catcher, but I contend that Francisco Cervelli would represent just as significant of an upgrade offensively in the order. It is all a matter of emphasis for New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. To date he has clearly weighted defense behind the plate over having a longer, more challenging lineup. The result is being met with mixed reviews, and with the team constantly depending upon the long ball for its production, consistency has become a thing of the past.
Perhaps it is time to pursue a different angle at generating runs. Shore up the bottom of the order so that our better hitters that sit at the top of the lineup have the chance to generate some New York Yankees runs.
Bring Francisco Cervelli back to where he belongs and stop thinking that we can do better. The evidence is showing that we can’t.