The New York Yankees were anything but a “small ball” team in 2019

Yankees fans thought the team were a small ball team in 2019. None of that ads up.

Jack Suhadolnik
New York Yankees, Aaron Judge
Apr 14, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits an RBI single against the Chicago White Sox during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One narrative that seemed to follow the New York Yankees this entire 2019 campaign was a misguided one. The noted narrative was the 2019 New York Yankees were somehow a small ball team.

I’m sorry, but where on earth was it evident that the Yankees were a small ball team in 2019?

The collective batting average of the 2019 Yankees was .267. That’s above the league average for baseball as a whole in 2019, but not when you look at the offensive breakdown of that .267 team average. The team had 1,493 hits, per The team, collectively, also struck out 1,421 times (that’s excluding the pitchers offensive totals, bringing the team strikeout total to 1,437). That’s a differential of only 72 more hits than strikeouts (56 when you factor in the pitchers). A real small ball team would suggest that they struck out less, and got more hits as a team due to the nature of sac flies, sac bunts, and more than the 569 walks the Yankees recorded as a team.

The only offensive category the Yankees lead in suggesting their “small ball” mindset was runs. They lead the American League in runs scored. They also shattered their record they set last year for home runs hit as a team, but still fell short of setting a new record. In the American League, eleven more teams hit more doubles than the Yankees, eleven more teams stole more bases, five more teams were caught stealing less, and they were dead last in triples hit. These are not statistics indicating a “small ball” club.

By contrast, the Houston Astros lead the American League in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, OBP, walks, strikeouts, had 1,100 more hits than the Yankees, were second in the league in hitting doubles, fourth in the league in hitting triples, were eighth in the league in stolen bases, and still hit the third-most home runs in the American League. That’s a small ball hitting team.

We’re talking about the Bronx Bombers people. Not the Bronx “small ballers.” If you don’t like how many home runs the Yankees are hitting, and hate even more how many of their runs are scored via the long ball, I don’t know what to tell you. This isn’t a team designed to win via small ball. It just isn’t. 

So stop pretending that they are. You’ll add a couple of weeks to your life from how much less time you’ll be stressing over the Yankees’ inability to play small ball.