About Yesterday Afternoon: #TANAK

Tanaka vs BAL III The Yankees needed to win yesterday's game to avoid falling 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the division race and to avoid an embarrassingly awful four-game sweep at home. Luckily they had Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, and while he didn't last as long as he did in his last start against Toronto , he was just as great. Tanaka kept most of the power hitters off balance, and helped shut out the Blue Jays lineup for the first time since the All-Star Break.

In his last two starts against Toronto (16 innings pitched), Tanaka is 2-0. He has walked three batters, struck out 15, has held the potent Blue Jays lineup to a paltry .164 BA and he has not allowed a home run. That last one is important because that team likes the long ball and hits it often.

So how do you shut down a team with such a potent offense? You don't allow them to feast on fastballs. You pitch to your strength which is your splitter and Tanaka's splitter was on yesterday.

Here's the breakdown of all of his pitches courtesy of Brooks Baseball (as of late last night):

  • 12 four seamers: 93.3 mph (95.3 max), 9 strikes, 5 swings, 4 of them were a first pitches
  • 11 sinkers: 91.6 mph (93.2 max), 7 strikes, 4 swings, 2 of them were first pitches
  • 19 sliders: 83.6 mph (87.5 max), 11 strikes, 9 swings, 6 of them were first pitches
  • 11 curveballs: 78.2 mph (81.7 max), 7 strikes, 4 swings, 4 of them were first pitches
  • 11 cutters: 88.6 mpg (90.1 max), 9 strikes, 7 swings, 1 was a first pitch
  • 44 splitters: 88.1 mph (90.2 max), 33 strikes, 26 swings, 7 were first pitches

Here's the results breakdown (hits, foul balls, balls in play, etc.) courtesy of Baseball Savant:

chart (9)

Tanaka gave up four hits. Three of them were doubles that obviously didn't amount to anything because Toronto never scored. And all three doubles were hit by righty batters. He also gave up a single to lefty Josh Thole on an 89 mph splitter. That was the only splitter that didn't quite work for Tanaka yesterday.

Here's how that pitch looked most of the day:

tanakapitchfrequencysplitter

Here's the splitter that didn't quite work:

tholessingle

According to Brooks Baseball (again as of late last night when this post was written), Tanaka threw the splitter 19 times to lefty batters - 15 of them were strikes (10 were strikes not in play) and he generated 13 swings. Five balls were in play and one, the Thole single, fell for a hit. He threw the splitter 28 times to righty batters - 20 of them were strikes (18 were strikes not in play) and he generated 13 swings.

Here's how Toronto's four hits looked in heat map form. The 1-1 at the low end of the zone is Thole's single and the 1-2 just below the 2-2 in red is Bautista's double:

trumedia_baseball_grid (27)

Here's a spray chart of all of the balls in play (outs in included): Masahiro Tanaka (4)

It was another ace-like performance from the staff ace when the team needed it.

Tanaka mentioned to Meredith Marakovits in his postgame interview on YES that he felt he had the right mindset going into the game. He told her that he said to himself he wasn't going to let Toronto sweep the Yankees. Maybe Tanaka should talk to the other members of the starting rotation and even some guys in the bullpen and help them with their confidence against Toronto.

Happy Monday!

[Heat maps courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info. Pie chart and spray chart courtesy of Baseball Savant. Other numbers courtesy of Brooks Baseball]

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Checking in on Didi Gregorius

Back on July 15, I wrote about the slow and steady progression of Didi Gregorius so I thought in light of last night's performance and his performance against the Braves this past weekend, we could take a look at how he has been doing since the All-Star break. In 147 at bats (42 games), Gregorius is hitting .327/.365/.435/.800. He's batting .233/.273/.315/.588 at home and batting .419/.451/.554/1.005 away from Yankee Stadium.

Here's his overall spray chart since the All-Star break: export (67)

And here's the heat map: trumedia_baseball_grid (25)

Some numbers:

  • Gregorius has gotten three singles off the cutter - two off David Price - and he's batting .375/.375/.375/.750.
  • He's gotten one single off the splitter. .286/.286/.286/.571
  • He has trouble with the changeup, batting .111/.190/.167/.357, but he hit a double in Saturday's game against the Braves.
  • He's hit five singles and a double off the slider and he's batting .259/.259/.296/.556.
  • In six at bats against the knuckleball, he has three singles - two off R.A. Dickey and one off Steven Wright. (.500/.500/.500/1.000)
  • In 67 at bats against the fastball, Gregorius is batting .403/.461/.567/1.028

Since he's having so much success against the fastball, let's take a closer look at that.

trumedia_baseball_grid (26)

As you can see in this heat graph, Gregorius likes the upper part of the strike zone. And while looking at the individual at bat results, I noticed that the majority of his hits on fastballs come within three pitches. There's an occasional four-pitch at bat but most of the hits are occurring on pitches 2 and 3.

Breaking it down further, Gregorius is batting .435/.491/.565/1.056 in 46 at bats against fastballs that fall between 90 and 95 m.p.h. In 12 at bats against fastballs 95 m.p.h and up, he's batting .167/.167/.167/.333.

Narrowing it down again, Gregorius is batting .380/.432/.519/.951 in 79 pitches that are considered hard - fastball, sinker, cutter.

export (68)

More numbers:

  • With the bases empty he's batting .333/.371/.381/.752/.
  • With men on .317/.357/.508/.865.
  • With a runner on .256/.319/.419/.738.
  • With two on .333/.353/.533/.886.
  • With the bases loaded but in only 8 at bats he's batting .800/.667/1.200/1.867.
  • With runners in scoring position .364/.395/.545/.940.

So what does this all mean? It means that the people who were pooing pooing the move probably feel pretty silly right now. Gregorius is a solid player (.269/.318/.364/.682) who has improved as the season has gone on and he's becoming fun to watch.

[Numbers and images courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info]

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About Last Night: CC Sabathia

Well, last night's result was unexpected, wasn't it? While I realize the 2015 version of the Boston Red Sox doesn't have the scary lineup that the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays currently pencil in every night, when CC Sabathia is pitching, he can make just about any lineup seem like those formidable Jays for at least an inning. Thankfully for us, and for the Yankees, that didn't happen last night. He had his scary inning - the fifth - but it didn't result in five unanswered runs. Progress!

I think it's safe to say that he pitched his best game in a long time last night.

So how did Sabathia actually pull off that feat? By pitching like the CC of old. Mr. Sabathia was dialing it up to 94 in some spots. Specifically during his bases loaded strikeout of David Ortiz to end the fifth inning. He needed to get the out and he did by pitching Ortiz inside and hard.

Here's his velocity throughout the game: CCspeed86

The highest point, which was clocked at 94.9, was the pitch that struck out Ortiz to end that frightening fifth inning. Brooks baseball is saying that pitch was a sinker.

Here's how they broke down his pitches:

  • Fastball: Avg 93.1 - Max 94.5
  • Sinker: Avg 93.0 - Max 94.9
  • Changeup: Avg 85.5 - Max 86.6
  • Slider: Avg 81.1 - Max 82.3

Sabathia was pretty economical, with the exception of that fifth inning.

Here are his pitch totals by inning:

  • 1: 12
  • 2: 18
  • 3: 14
  • 4: 13
  • 5: 32
  • 6: 10

He threw 99 pitches, 63 of them were for strikes.

Here's what the fifth inning Ortiz at bat looked like from the catcher's point of view:

ortizatbat86

And here are the pitch speeds: pitchspeedortizatbat

CC had good reason to be pumped up after that strikeout. He only needed four pitches and got Ortiz to miss that 94 mph sinker to end the scoring threat.

Here's the spray chart: export (63)

It was nice to have a game that wasn't a "death by singles" game for CC. Quite refreshing actually.

His final line for the night: Six innings, three hits, one run, three walks, eight strikeouts.

The three walks were frustrating. Especially the walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. that led to the Red Sox scoring their only run of the game. I'm not sure how someone batting .100 can walk two times in a game but it happened. Good thing the second walk, which happened in the ninth inning with Andrew Miller on the mound, didn't come back to bite the Yankees like that first one did.

But enough negativity. CC Sabathia had a strong outing, the Yankees won the game and they took two of three from the Sox.

Have a nice Friday, everyone!

[Graphs, spray charts and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Brooks Baseball]

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About Last Night: Luis Severino

While I realize last night's end result is not what we wanted or what the Yankees needed, there was one very positive thing to come out of the 2-1 loss to Red Sox: Luis Severino. What a performance by the kid. Watching him come out that poised and perform the way he did was pretty amazing. Unfortunately, he ended up on the losing end of the game because his offense was once again baffled by a knuckleballer and could only muster one run for the rookie.

So how did Severino's game breakdown? Get ready for a lot of pictures and colors!

Here's the spray chart (two hits and a costly error by Chase Headley):

export (62)

Here's a heat map of his strike percentage:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap(severino)

Here's his pitch chart (where they landed and what type they were) according to Baseball Savant: Luis  Severino

Here's how the velocity looked in graph form courtesy of Brooks Baseball (Nice mix of speeds): severinospeedpitch85

Here's how his 94 pitches broke down according to Baseball Savant:

chart (7)

FOUR SEAMER: chart (4)

TWO SEAMER: chart (5)

CHANGE: chart (3)

SLIDER: chart (2)

CUTTER: chart (6)

Severino made one big mistake and it unfortunately came off the bat of David Ortiz in the form of a solo shot:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap(OrtizHR)

Someone like Ortiz will turn on a ball like this even if it is 96 mph, but the kid showed poise on the mound, kept Boston at two runs and didn't let things get out of hand.

His final line: five innings, two hits, two runs, one earned (Thanks again Headley), no walks, seven strikeouts and the home run.

Fun fact: Severino's the first pitcher in American League history with two hits or fewer, no walks and at least seven strikeouts in his MLB debut. Not too shabby, kid.

[Stats, charts and graphs courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info, Brooks Baseball, and Baseball Savant]

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Quick hit: Hello (again) Phil Hughes!

The Yankees are facing their old teammate Phil Hughes and his surging Minnesota Twins for the first time in 2015 tonight so I thought I'd look at how opposing batters have been doing against him so far this year. Splits

Hughes comes into tonight's ballgame with an 8-6 record, a 4.15 ERA, and a 4.63 FIP. He's pitched 123 2/3 innings and has surrendered 23 home runs.

  • 1 off his curveball
  • 7 off his cutter
  • 15 off his fastball

Hughes is 6-2 at home with an ERA of 3.93, and even though Target Field is known as a pitcher's park, he's given up 12 of his 23 home runs at his home ballpark.

Here's his spray chart overall for 2015 by hit type: Phil Hughes

Here it is broken down by ground balls, line drives, pop ups, and fly balls: Phil Hughes (1)

Breaking down his arsenal

Here's his spray chart overall: Phil Hughes (2)

And here are the pitches broken down individually.

Hughes has thrown 363 cutters: export (50)

He's thrown 43 changeups while not surrendering a hit and getting a strikeout: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (96)

He's thrown 1,086 fastballs (two and four seam): export (48)

He's thrown 256 curveballs (ESPN's system calls them curveballs and Baseball Savant calls them Knuckle curves): export (49)

Hopefully the Yankees will add to Hughes' home run total and also add another L to his record. No offense to him, but he's an enemy now. (Of course, knowing my luck, he'll throw a three-hit shut out and this post will look really silly tomorrow.)

[Charts and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Baseball Savant]

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About Last Night: Nathan Eovaldi and the first inning of doom

[I know, another post on Eovaldi's start? Yes, sorry. There's a lot to talk about. -SG]

So just how bad was last night's game for Nathan Eovaldi and the Yankees? The Marlins had more hits in the first inning (9) than the Yankees did for the entire game (7) and Eovaldi didn't even make it out of the inning. His BABIP for his 2/3 of an inning of work was .818 and he gave up eight earned runs.

Let's jump into the pictures of doom!

Here are those hits in spray chart form (there are two that landed in nearly the same spot so it only looks like eight but there are nine): export (28)

Eovaldi gave up two ground ball hits, two line drives and two fly ball hits. In his last outing against the Nationals (a no decision), he gave up fewer hits overall (8) in seven innings - four line drives, one fly ball and three ground ball hits. And before that, he gave up four hits in 5 1/3 innings on June 5, against the Angels - two line drives, one fly ball and one ground ball. He also threw 93 pitches that outing. (More on that issues later in the post.)

Here are the Marlins' hits are in heat map form: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (79)

The Marlins' made a lot of contact with Eovaldi's pitches: trumedia_baseball_grid (12)

And it wasn't as if one particular pitch type was getting battered more than the others.

  • He gave up three hits on his splitter.
  • Three on his slider.
  • Three on his fastball. (When you're throwing hard - the fastballs that fell for hits were 97-99 mph - but throwing pitches straight and over the plate, balls will be hit.)
  • He gave up five hits to lefty batters and four to righties.
  • Five of the hits he gave up were on the first or second pitch of the at bat.

Derek Dietrich's double was off a 1-1 splitter that didn't split. trumedia_baseball_heatmap (80)

Adeiny Hechavarria's triple was off a first pitch slider that didn't slide enough. trumedia_baseball_heatmap (81)

Here are some zone profiles by batting average and pitch type courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

The Marlins against Eovaldi's slider: BAagainsttheslider

Against the splitter: BAagainstsplitter

And against the fastball: BAagainstthefourseam

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Only two misses on the fastball. It's also pretty easy to hit the ball when you know where it's going.

These charts shows how Eovaldi's pitch selection broke down last night: Brooksbaseball-Chart (8)

It's obvious he was favoring the hard stuff. He also needs to develop better secondary stuff. Brooksbaseball-Chart (9)

So far this season, Eovaldi has thrown 1,197 pitches in 70 1/3 innings. The only Yankee starter with more pitches thrown is CC Sabathia with 1,202 but he's pitched 77 innings. Eovaldi's problem so far this season is using up his pitches in a shorter amount of time and last night was no exception. He threw 36 pitches in his 2/3 innings of work: 19 four seamers, 9 sliders, 1 curve and 7 splitters.

He got one whiff on his four seamer and none on his slider, curve or split. Brooksbaseball-Chart (10)

To expand on the info above:

  • His fastball produced 16 strikes, 12 swings, one whiff and five balls in play - three for hits.
  • His slider produced six strikes, four swings and three out of three balls fell in for hits.
  • His splitter produced three strikes and three swings - all hits.
  • His fastball averaged 98.7 mph while hitting a max of 100.2.
  • His slider was 86.6 mph with a max of 88.5.
  • His lone curveball was 76.2 mph.
  • His splitter was 87.1 mph with a max of 88.2.

Eovaldi only gave up hits on his four seamer, slider and split. The lone curveball was ball out of the zone. trumedia_baseball_heatmap (82)

So what does all of this mean? It means Eovaldi had a very bad outing last night and that he'll hopefully look at some video, figure out what the heck happened - maybe he was tipping his pitches? - and try not to repeat it the next time his spot in the rotation comes up.

[Charts, heat maps, spray charts and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info, Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball]

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About Last Night: The pitch of doom and other sad pictures

Last night's loss was extremely irritating. I usually try not to let games like this bother me but I wanted to put my fist through the TV. Your starter goes seven innings, gives up two runs and all you can muster is three hits? Oh okay, the Marlins did make some stellar defensive plays that robbed the Yankees of a few hits so it's a good thing Mark Teixeira had the good sense to hit a ball 429 feet so a Marlins player couldn't get to it or this game would have been even more annoying.

Anyway, here's the pitch that doomed the Yankees last night. (They were probably going to lose because if the Marlins hadn't scored in the seventh, they would have scored eventually.)

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (75)

Tanaka: "Here's a 92 mph meatball, I mean, fastball over the plate! See what you can do with it!" Derek Dietrich: "Hey, thanks man!" *BOOM*

Dietrich also scored the first run against Tanaka in the second after hitting a double and scoring on a base hit. What a pain in the butt he is.

Dietrich connected on a 92 mph fastball: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (77)

And Adeiny Hechavarria hit an 88 mph slider: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (78)

Here are the Yankees three hits: export (27)

"Three hits? That's all we got, three goddamn hits?" "You can't say goddamn on the air." "Don't worry. Nobody's listening anyway."

Here's Tex's HR, the lone bright spot last night: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (76)

It's a bit disheartening because you expect the Yankees to win Tanaka's starts and they were just bad last night. After being shut down by Tom Koehler, who I hadn't even heard of before last night, and the defense behind him and to the side(s) of him, they couldn't even muster a hit against the two relievers the Marlins sent out - Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos. Well, okay, Ramos is actually doing really well this season - he has nine saves, has thrown 31 2/3 innings and has struck out 42 batters - so you wouldn't expect the Yankees to do much of anything against him.

Let's hope he doesn't have a reason to be in tonight's game.

Let's also hope Nathan Eovaldi can remem-- Oh never mind. I was going to say, let's hope Eovaldi remembers how to pitch in Marlins Park but I just looked up his splits on Baseball Reference and he was 3-6 there last year.

Oy.

Enjoy your morning.

[Heat maps and spray chart courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info]

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Thursday morning reflections after a sweep in Seattle

I said this other day after the Yankees were able to beat Felix Hernandez: This team is confounding. They will sweep the best team in the league (in the AL and at the time the series began), lose three out of four to a terrible team in Oakland and then sweep the Mariners in Seattle while facing the aforementioned Hernandez.

And guess what? The Yankees are in first place and four games above .500! They're 7-3 in their last 10 games, not that you'd know that with the way some people are reacting to how they're playing.

Are they a great team? No, but in the AL Least - no, I did not spell that wrong - being just good enough will probably be more than adequate to win the division.

Were these three games against Seattle good? Yes and no.

Beating King Felix was fun but barely beating a rookie in Mike Montgomery - well, they actually didn't beat him, they had to wait until Fernando Rodney entered the game to make some noise - and being nearly shut down by Taijuan Walker wasn't that great. Aside from Mark Teixeira's solo shot and Garrett Jones' two-run jack, the Yankees' offense didn't do much yesterday.

Thank goodness for TANAK who pitched well for a guy just coming back from a somewhat extended DL trip. Oh, who am I kidding? He pitched well for anyone. Don't let the naysayers make you think differently. He made more than a few guys on the Mariners look silly at the plate. He also hit 96.5 m.p.h. on the gun.

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About Last Night: The Yankees did what against Felix Hernandez?

When Felix Hernandez had a six-pitch first inning and had only thrown 21 pitches after recording nine outs, most people watching last night's game were thinking his outing would be quick, painless (for him) and a disaster for the Yankees. When Mariners' manager Lloyd McClendon walked out of the home dugout to take the ball from his ace, who by that point, in the fifth inning, had surrendered seven runs to the Yankees, most people watching the game couldn't believe what they were seeing. The 2015 Yankees are confounding. They'll sweep the best team in the American League, lose three out of four to the worst and just when you think they can't get any more confusing, they'll score seven runs on King Felix.

This is how it happened (Just in case you went to bed early).

Brett Gardner and Chase Headley hit back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning. Gardner advanced to third on Headley's single. When Alex Rodriguez was up to bat, Hernandez threw a wild pitch and Gardner scored. Hernandez ended up walking both A-Rod and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Brian McCann hit into a double play but Headley scored from third to make it 2-0. Carlos Beltran walked to load the bases again but Didi Gregorius grounded out to end the inning.

Two runs were nice, but the Yankees could have - and should have - done a lot more damage because they had Hernandez on the ropes a couple of times in the fourth, and they didn't.

After Michael Pineda struck out three and surrendered a single in the bottom of the fourth, King Felix came back out.

The fifth inning started off with a walk to Stephen Drew which at the time people thought was pretty hilarious because Drew is terrible and King Felix is not.

Here's the walk in heat map form. Notice the two pitches at the top (the blue blurb/top right) - Hernandez was struggling with control. trumedia_baseball_heatmap (61)

And in this graph, you'll notice that Hernandez was actually helped by a strike call on a ball slightly out of the zone but Drew was able to work the walk anyway. drewwalkfifthinning

Next Roman Flores hit a single on a ball low in the zone and over the plate:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (62)

Brett Gardner walked - which was Hernandez's fifth free pass of the night - to load the bases. Headley hit a sacrifice fly to score Drew and put the Yankees up 3-0. A-Rod singled to load the bases, yet again, and this time, the Yankees, or more specifically, Mark Teixeira, finally took advantage.

texatbat5inning

As you can see from the graph above, Tex was not going after pitches out of the zone, and when Hernandez threw a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the zone, Tex took it out of the park for a grand slam. (Teixeira has six career home runs against Hernandez.)

The Yankees were up 7-0, the crowd in Safeco was in shock, and the people watching at home also couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Hernandez was able to get McCann swinging for the second out of the inning, and it looked like he'd be able to at least make the walk back to the dugout with his teammates, but Beltran spoiled it by hitting a double on another 90 m.p.h. fastball to chase him out of the game.

beltrandouble

Here's the Yankees fifth inning in the form of a heat map: trumedia_baseball_heatmap (60)

And the fifth inning spray chart: export (19)

All in all, the Yankees tagged King Felix for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits, walked five and struck out four.

This graph shows all of his pitches and where they landed: [caption id="attachment_75492" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Courtesy of Brooks Baseball Courtesy of Brooks Baseball[/caption]

And this is how his pitches were broken down throughout his outing. He favored the sinker: [caption id="attachment_75493" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Courtesy of Brooks Baseball Courtesy of Brooks Baseball[/caption]

Out of the six hits the Yankees were able to get off Hernandez, five of them were off his fastball. One came on a changeup.

Tonight, CC Sabathia will be facing someone named Mike Montgomery, who is making his Major League debut. I won't even attempt to make a prediction about that matchup.

[Heat maps, graphs and numbers courtesy of Brooks Baseball and ESPN Stats and Info]

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As Gardner and Ellsbury go, so go the Yanks (or: Crap, Ellsbury hit the DL)

One of my favorite things about this site and the staff here is the off-site chatter amongst all of us that takes place over the course of every day. We talk baseball. We loudly bemoan really bad, hackneyed, trite, ad hominem attacks on players by the MSM, and laugh about silly Twitter spats. We talk about non-work stuff and provide a measure of support for one another when life gets in the way of baseball/writing (we're all mourning the loss of Stacey's best buddy, her cat Jack, who had to be put to sleep last night). I haven't written much in the last few years due to work, but I'm here in the background every day, reading everything we (and you) write. Fun stuff, really. This morning, William asked/challenged the following: What's the Yanks record when Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner get on base (H/BB/HBP) a combined 4 or more times in a game? That's a fine question, William, particularly because we all know how good these two have been so far this year and we're losing Ellsbury to the DL (did you know he's in the midst of a $153M contract?!? /snark).

The short answer is, the Yanks could be in for a rough few weeks...With the infield pretty much not producing much as we mentioned the other day a few times, any (further) cool-down from Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira could really spin this team back towards .500 in a hurry.

Because I love charts and graphs as a way to easily depict data, this should be easy enough to grasp:

IMG_2756 Yes, the Yanks are 12-1 when Gardner/Ellsbury are on base a lot. They are 7-12 when they are not. And Ellsbury is now on the DL.

Keep in mind this chart only includes games where the combined times on base (hit, BB, HPB) for Gardner and Ellsbury together. It excludes the one game where Gardner did it when Ellsbury wasn't playing (the team lost).

Caveat: I'm sure we could create a similar chart for other players and other teams, but the freshness of the Ellsbury DL situation and the painfully obvious split shown above was too interesting not to share.

[all data courtesy of our friends at Baseball-Reference.com and their play index]

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