What the New York Yankees Can Do to Spark Offense, End Power Outage

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterJune 13, 2013

Last Thursday, first baseman Mark Teixeira smacked a home run for the Yankees, who haven't hit one out since.
Last Thursday, first baseman Mark Teixeira smacked a home run for the Yankees, who haven't hit one out since.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Bronx Bombers have been anything but lately.

The New York Yankees are in the midst of what is, for them, a rather lengthy power outage:

That tweet, from WFAN 660's Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti, came Wednesday night...before New York again went sans homer against the Oakland Athletics.

Entering play Thursday, the Yankees have gone homerless in five straight games for the first time since 2006.

"That's too much. We're the Bronx Bombers," Mark Teixeira said, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Incidentally, Teixeira is the last Yankee to hit one out, which he did last Thursday—exactly a week ago—by going back-to-back with Robinson Cano off Aaron Harang in the Yanks' 6-1 win over theSeattle Mariners.

In defense of the Yankees hitters, though, the five games have come on the road against the Mariners and the Athletics, who play in two of the toughest parks to hit homers. In fact, Safeco Field, home of the M's, ranks dead last in homers, while the A's O.co Coliseum checks in at 23rd, according to ESPN's Park Factors.

The Yanks have scored 12 runs in those five games—not good. But they've also gone 2-3, so it hasn't exactly been disastrous for them, either.

The real issue for the offense is that while New York has hit 70 homers on the season—a respectable 11th-most in the majors—the club is scoring just under four runs per game at 3.97, which ranks 10th-worst in baseball.

Homers, then, haven't been a huge problem on the whole. Slugging, though, has.

The Yanks have only 87 doubles, which is the second-lowest total, only three more than (gasp) the Miam Marlins.

And New York's .391 team slugging percentage? Well, that's 19th-worst in the bigs.

For some context: The last time the Yankees finished a season with a sub-.400 SLG, Bernie Williams was not only on the team, he was a rookie. The year? Try 1991, when they slugged .387.

Speaking of lasts, the last instance in which New York wound up outside the top 10 in slugging was 2008 when they were 11th at .427. You may remember that as the only time in the past 18 seasons the Yanks haven't made the postseason.

By the way, the Yankees only led the sport with a .453 slugging percentage a year ago.

So...what's the fix?

The short answer? There isn't one.

Sure, it helps that Teixeira came back at the end of May, and he's already hit three homers in 12 games. That's key, considering Teixeira has averaged almost 34 homers and has slugged .506 in his first four years as a Yankee. He might have trouble reaching those marks this time, though, given the nature and severity of his wrist injury, which can sap power.

Fact is, since their surprisingly hot starts, Vernon Wells (6 HR, .544 SLG in April), Travis Hafner (6, .667 in April) and Lyle Overbay (4, .446 in April) have gone colder than cold in the power department.

Think of it this way: Brett Gardner—who has never hit more than seven homers or slugged higher than .379 in a full season—is an extra-base hit or two away from being third on the Yankees in slugging percentage.

Back during spring training, a lot was made of the possibility that the Yankees likely would struggle to hit balls over walls and pile up extra-base hits, given all the injuries (read: Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter) and free-agent losses (i.e., Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez).

Well, that's exactly what's happened.

Getting Granderson, Rodriguez and Jeter back—whenever that happens—will certainly help. But a reminder: Granderson has now suffered broken bones in both hands/forearms from being hit by pitches, while A-Rod and Jeter are going to be 38 and 39, respectively, before the 2013 season is through.

In other words, don't count on the homers to return even once those three are back in the lineup.

Will things get better? Probably, because, frankly, they almost have to. At least, if the Yanks want to have a realistic shot at the postseason.

Heading into Thursday's game, they're 37-28 and holding onto the second wild card spot. Barely.

New York's ability to hit more home runs and improve its slugging percentage isn't necessarily going to determine the outcome of the season, but some more power—heck, even some more pop—would certainly help.

"The old [approach of] walks and home runs—[they're] not really coming," Teixeira told Hoch. "You hate to say it again, but we don't have home runs right now."

For a team known for the long ball, that could wind up being a season-long problem.

And in a worse-case scenario, this homerless drought could portend a playoff-less 2013.


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