The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Give and take

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 29, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Last year, Robinson Cano very nearly had the worst strikeout season of his career. He struck out 14 more times than in 2009 and was eight away from his career-high set in 2007.

Absolutely no one noticed or cared.

As Mike wrote this morning, baseball is quite often a game of tradeoffs. High strikeout totals aren’t as bad as we often make them out to be, as long as those strikeouts come with something positive.

Last year’s Yankees leader in strikeouts was Nick Swisher, who also finished with his lowest full-season walk total, but those negatives came with the highest slugging percentage and OPS of his career.

For baseball players, managers and executives, it’s all a give and take. Swisher made himself a more productive hitter at the cost of some things he already did very well. Last season, Joe Girardi had to weigh Marcus Thames’ ability to hit against his inability to field. This winter, Brian Cashman had to weigh Andruw Jones ability to hit for power against his tendency to swing and miss.

From the outside looking in, there are times when the negatives standout far more than the positives. The tradeoffs are hard to accept when a guy goes down swinging with two outs and a runner at second, or when a guy who homered in the second inning drops a fly ball in the eighth.

Brett Gardner takes heat for being a corner outfielder who has little power but still strikes out quite a bit, but Gardner is also one of the most patient hitters and fastest base runners in the game. His strikeouts come with a lot of walks, those walks keep his on-base percentage high, and that ability to reach base came with 47 stolen bases last year.

Derek Jeter does not have good range in the field, but he’s as fundamentally flawless as any shortstop in the game. Not everyone is OK with that tradeoff — and I can understand that — but it makes him a viable defensive player, and if that tradeoff comes with a return to form offensively, the Yankees will be more than happy to play him everyday for the next four years.

Curtis Granderson’s power is what you’d expect from a first baseman, but it carries extra weight because it comes from a guy who also plays a good center field. Yes, he strikes out and has a sketchy track record against lefties, but it’s hard to find that sort of impact bat at a premier defensive position.

It’s a waste of time trying to build a roster full of perfect baseball players. Some guys strikeout a lot. Some can’t catch the ball. Some can’t hit the ball much beyond the infield dirt.

And sometimes that’s OK.

Associated Press photo of Cano




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