The Yankees Have Offense in Reserve

The New York Yankees possess one of baseball’s best lineups. Big contributions from Mark Teixeira and Johnny Damon leave the Yankees ranked second in team wOBA and team wRAA. How the Yankees’ offense has hit to date is impressive, even when you take their ballpark into consideration. Alex Rodriguez’s odd, abbreviated season has seen him contribute only a run and a half more than Brett Gardner, but it’s hard to blame Rodriguez; the star third baseman has spent most of his time rehabbing and suffering more poor breaks on balls in play than Garry Hoy.

That offensive state of mind exists beyond the pantheon of new Yankee Stadium. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, home to the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, features a triplet of red-hot bats. Shelley Duncan, Austin Jackson, and John Rodriguez patrol the outfield while on defense, and hit balls into the outfield during their time on offense. The three are inseparable on top of most International League leaderboards. Here’s how they stack up:

Rodriguez: .292/.377/.521
Jackson: .342/.410/.451

Duncan: .294/.369/.628

Jackson is the only one with a foreseeable future in pinstripes, since most prospect analysts rank him as the top prospect in the system. It’s easy to see how, as Jackson plays a smooth centerfield and flashes impressive offensive production for a 22-year-old. Look for him to claim a starting gig in the Bronx sometime over the next 12 months.

Rodriguez and Duncan are journeymen, albeit with some notable history in the majors.

The left-handed Rodriguez collected his major league experience in 2005 and 2006 with the Cardinals. He didn’t hit for a lot of power, and was little more than an average defender in the corner outfield. He did hit righties decently, and was used primarily in a platoon role. Rodriguez was nothing to spill your checkbook over, but teams have become infatuated with players of inferior quality of the years.

Duncan incites brawls, and during his brief major league career hit both lefties and homers. A lumbering man, Duncan’s defensive repertoire is limited to first base, DH, or a corner outfield position. He’s not a full-time player, but again, a team could do a lot worse than Duncan as the right-handed half of a platoon.

The powerful performance of Scranton’s outfield reveals that the Yankees have some offensive depth in the minors ready to go, which makes Angel Berroa’s continued employment in the Bronx all the more bewildering.

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I mentioned this on the 20 innings article, but the Yankee brass is very very slow to realize when to replace garbage. Last year they let LaTroy Hawkins stink up the joint until July iirc. Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras had quicker hooks this year, but it wasn’t quick enough, given the fact they have attractive relief options in AAA.

Why Mark Melancon is withering away in AAA while Brett Tomko has a spot and why it appears that Cody Ransom will be rejoining the team when he gets off the DL are just confounding.