May 20, 2019

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In Baseball’s Game of Numbers, Yankees Differ on Which Ones Count

In Baseball’s Game of Numbers, Yankees Differ on Which Ones Count
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Another measure Judge cited seemed counterintuitive. At 6 foot 7, Judge is one of the tallest position players in baseball history. But he prides himself on being faster than you would think; 374 players were slower than him last season, according to Major League Baseball’s Statcast data. Judge keeps tabs on how often he is scoring from second base on a single or advancing from first to third as a base runner.

“If you look all over the game, you’ll see a lot of guys just go first to second,” he said. “There’s a lot more chances to go first to third than people think. You just got to be aggressive.”

Judge’s fellow slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, prefers to examine which of his hitting tendencies opposing pitchers might exploit. When scrutinizing his performance with runners in scoring position, he said, he examines his mental approach rather than a popular statistic like on-base-plus-slugging percentage (O.P.S.).

Stanton, 29, does check his chase rate, a phrase for the percentage of times a batter swings at pitches outside the strike zone. During Stanton’s first season with the Yankees in 2018 after a trade from the Miami Marlins, his chase rate jumped more than five percentage points to nearly 33 percent from the previous season, according to FanGraphs.com, which may have contributed to his decline in overall power production.

Several players said they did not focus on any preferred statistics.

“If you look only at R.B.I., then maybe you don’t hit much in terms of average — or the reverse,” said catcher Gary Sanchez, 26, who is hoping to bounce back from the worst all-around season of his career and return to his 2017 All-Star form. “It’s all important. You try to do it all.”

Others said they avoided statistics entirely. Relief pitcher Dellin Betances, 30, said he knew exactly how he was performing without the numbers to break it down. Troy Tulowitzki, 34, the Yankees’ primary shortstop while Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery, cited an unheard-of statistic: “I look at a winning player.”

Tulowitzki pointed to the Yankees’ new infielder D. J. LeMahieu, 30, a former teammate from their days with the Colorado Rockies, as one. LeMahieu, a career .298 hitter who once won a batting title, loosely keeps tabs on the quality of his at-bats and his strikeouts.



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