With last night’s contest being Game #82, it’s a good time to recap the first half performances of some key Yanks, and what to look for going forward. I’ll break these up into three sections, the positive, neutral and negative surprises so far this year. One theme that emerges is the Yanks will need to have some of their veteran players draw more Walks, and will need more consistency out of the bullpen.
Robinson Cano-What can you say about Robbie? Leads the team in BA (.342) Home Runs (16) Runs Scored (59) and OPS (.960). He’s finally developed into the player we thought he could be, and the .394 OBP (career .345) may be the biggest surprise of all.
Phil Hughes– Despite hitting a recent rough patch, he’s still had a terrific first half. His 1.38 ERA on May 12th wasn’t going to hold up all season. Key to his success has been taming Lefty batters with the Cutter, holding them to a .737 OPS against this year (.817 OPS from 07-09).
Andy Pettitte-Just gets better with age. WHIP (1.149) ERA (2.82) and BABIP (.268) are all well below his career marks. Key to his success has been his complete obliteration of Lefthanded batters this year, holding them to a minuscule .404 OPS (.699 career). Due to regress some, but has also typically been a 2nd half pitcher. If this is his swan song, he’s going out Mussina-style.
Brett Gardner-I’ve long been a believer, but even his most ardent supporter wouldn’t have predicted a .319/.401/.434 (.836 OPS) from GGBG this year. His outstanding defense add to his value further, and his 2.3 WAR has him tied for second best on the team. Still needs to be a little more aggressive on the base paths, but that’s been said about him since he was in AA.
Nick Swisher-It’s hard to put the word “quietly” and Nick Swisher in the same sentence, but he’s having the best season of his career so far this year. You expect him to draw walks, but the .294 BA is the biggest surprise, and is 30 points ahead of his prior career best from 2007.
Joba Chamberlain-There’s been two Joba’s this year. The one who blows away hitters and the other who gets hammered and is lucky to escape an inning only giving up 2-3 Runs. The bad outings have made his overall numbers look ugly, and he would need to be just about perfect over the second half to have the kind of season some of us expected out of him. It’s going to be a disappointing year at this point, so you just hope he gets it together for a strong playoff run.
Mark Teixeira-After the brutal April, he’s followed it up with an unremarkable May and June. Will need a massive power streak to get his numbers (.428 SLG/.781 OPS) back up to his career averages (.536 SLG/.913 OPS).
Alex Rodriguez-He’s leading the team in RBIs, but in just about every other category he’s been disappointing this year. He’s posted a .272/.344/.479 line this year (.824 OPS) and those are all well below his career numbers. Another hitter who needs to get his Walks up with his .344OBP this year (career .388). It seems to be an epidemic on this team, why I have no idea.
Javier Vazquez-After an unfathomably bad start and a 9.78 ERA on May 1st, he’s been one of the Yanks most consistent pitchers. He posted a 3.23 ERA/0.974 WHIP for the month of June and followed it up in July with an outstanding performance last night against the As. He’s only listed as ‘neutral’ because of his slow start, he’s been good ever since.
Curtis Granderson-He’s been bad (.226/.302/.402) so far this year, but given the fact that he missed a month of the season I think we should cut him some slack. Drawing some Walks will help him as well.
Derek Jeter-He’ll never admit it, but I have to think he was banged up during his May slump. He’s been better of late, but is yet another Yankee who needs to draw more walks with his .348 OBP (.386 career) and his 50 point drop off in SLG has to raise an eyebrow.
AJ Burnett-AJs been up and down his whole career, he is who he is. The emergence of Hughes and Vazquez getting back on track make his inconsistent nature less of an issue.
Jorge Posada-You could argue that the fact that he’s even still in the mix at his age is a surprise to the upside. 38 year old Catchers generally don’t continue to produce, and the fact that he’s had trouble staying on the field shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. It may make some folks unhappy, but Cervelli will get much of the starts behind the dish and Jorge’s going to be DHing a lot from here forward. Look at how much time he’s missed since 2008 and you’ll know why.
Chan Ho Park-I never thought he’d be any good, so the fact that he’s been hideous can’t surprise me.