It can be fair to say the first half of the 2014 Yankees season did not go as planned. At the all-star break, the Yankees sit at 47-47, good for 3rd place in the AL East and 5 games behind the first-place Orioles. Currently, 4/5 of the teams starting pitchers at the beginning of the season are on the disabled list, and the offense has not resembled the “Bronx Bombers”. Now, it’s time to look at the Yankees first half player grades.
Brett Gardner has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for this season. He’s already posted a career high 9 home-runs, he leads the team in runs, and most importantly, he leads the team in on-base percentage. His left field defense has been superb. Gardner’s been one of the few bright spots for the Yankees this season.
The Captain may be 40-years-old, but he can still play. He’s 3rd on the team in hits, and of the players that play everyday, has the 4th highest average on the team. His defense has been respectable aside from a few mental errors. If Jeter continues producing like he did in the first half, the Yankees should be content with that.
After getting off to a torching start, Jacoby Ellsbury has slowed down. Still, he’s been one of the most consistent players on the Yankees. He leads the team in hits, stolen bases, and is 2nd in RBIs. Unfortunately with Ellsbury, he’s always going to have his massive contract hovering over him. I think the Yankees could get a lot more out of Ellsbury and he could be significantly more effective if he was hitting lead-off and Brett Gardner was hitting ninth. You can’t have a non-power guy as your number 3 hitter, and making this lineup change could make a big difference for the Yankees.
His 17 home-runs and 48 RBIs lead the team, but Mark Teixeira has to be able to do more than just hit home runs. He’s become a one-dimensional hitter who hits for a low average. You like he’s one of the few guys who still has power, but the Yankees need more from him.
When the Yankees signed Brian McCann over the off-season, the consensus was he would be a perfect fit in New York. He’s been anything but. McCann is hitting 35 points below his career average, and he’s never looked comfortable in pinstripes. The Yankees expected McCann to flourish with the short-porch in right. Instead, he’s been one of the most inconsistent players on the team and his failures have been the story of the first half. If the Yankees are going to make a run, McCann has to be the guy who must have a massive 2nd half.
In a breakthrough scientific discovery, it turns out there are human beings made entirely of glass, and one of those people is Carlos Beltran. He has the elbow injury, knee problems, and most recently, suffered a broken nose and a concussion after a ball hit his face when he was taking batting practice. At the beginning of the season, Beltran was penciled in as the starting right fielder. Now, seeing Beltran in the field is only a dream. He’s taking up the DH spot, and when he’s played, he hasn’t been too productive. Beltran is hitting a pathetic .216, and along with McCann, has to get it together big-time in the 2nd half.
Ichiro Suzuki wasn’t supposed to see regular playing time, but due to the historic fall of Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Beltran’s inability to play the field, he’s been the everyday right fielder. Ichiro leads the team in average, but the team can’t continue throwing him out there everyday. The Yankees need a power bat in the outfield that can do more than just hit singles, and unfortunately, Ichiro does not fit the bill.
By no means is he Robinson Cano, but he’s $238 million dollars cheaper. Brian Roberts season started off very slow, but he’s been turning it on as of late. At the all-star break, he’s hitting .241 with 5 HR and 20 RBIs. In July though, he’s hitting .267 and the Yankees hope he keeps his hot-streak going.
Of all the moves Brian Cashman made this past off-season, signing Kelly Johnson over Mark Reynolds may have been Cashman’s biggest gaffe. Johnson has been a complete bust. He’s hitting .214 with 6 home runs. The Yankees expected Johnson to be a consistent power source at the bottom of the line-up. Instead, he’s been terrible.
Yangervis Solarte was on cloud 9 for the first 2 months of the season. The past month and a half have been disastrous with Solarte being demoted back to the minors. He’s currently hitting .255 with 31 RBIs, but his honey moon appears to be long, long over.
It looks like the “monstars” from “Space Jam” stole the talent from Alfonso Soriano, because he had one of the biggest drop-offs in recent memory. Overnight, Soriano went from being a 30+ home-run, 100 RBI offensive force in 2013, to a non-factor this season. He could no longer hit a fastball, and his plate discipline was non-existent. The end result was Soriano being designated for assignment and a player that nearly carried the Yankees to the post-season in 2013 has officially left the building.
He was the savior for the first 3 months of the season, and now, we may not see Masahiro Tanaka again until the 2016 season due to a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Tanaka started out the season on fire. Through his first 14 starts of the season, Tanaka posted a 11-1 mark, with a 1.99 ERA. From there, it was downhill with Tanaka losing 3 out of his last 4 decisions, before getting lit-up by the Cleveland Indians in what could be his final start of the season. It would be a devastating blow if Tanaka’s rehab does not go as planned and he’s forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Remember him? Once upon a time, CC Sabathia was one of the best pitchers in baseball, the ace of the New York Yankees. Now, not only could his season be over, but his career could be as well. The 2014 season was a complete waste for Sabathia. He made just 8 starts, pitched to a career worst 5.28 ERA, and opponents hit over .300 against him. The Yankees were counting on a bounce back season from CC. Instead, they got nothing.
Entering the 2nd half of the season, Hiroki Kuroda the number 1 starter in the Yankees rotation, and the lone guy who has yet to get hurt (knock on wood). Kuroda has been what the Yankees hoped he would be. He’s 6-6 with a 4.10 ERA, but with all the injuries in the rotation, the team needs that much more out of him.
I am proud to say I attended what could very well be Michael Pineda’s final start of the 2014 season back on April 23rd at Fenway Park when he was ejected for having pine-tar on his neck. Pineda later got hurt, and has not been heard from since. Before getting hurt, Pineda was looking like a revelation going 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 4 starts and the Yankees were counting on him to have a big season. His velocity was back in the mid-90s. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see him again this season.
After beginning the season as the long-man out of the bullpen, David Phelps is now the number 2 starter in the Yankees rotation. In 13 starts this season, Phelps has gone 3-4 with a 3.94 ERA. He’s been thrown into the fire, and been more than the Yankees could have hoped for in the rotation.
He’s only made 2 starts, but Shane Greene is looking like he could be the savior of the 2014 Yankees. His latest start was a masterpiece. He shut down the Baltimore Orioles over 7.1 shutout innings while striking out 9. Greene’s stuff has been filthy as well. His fastball reaches the upper 90s, and he throws a 94 MPH sinker. He reminds me of Chien Ming-Wang before he broke his foot running the bases in 2008.
The surprise of the 2014 Yankees has been Dellin Betances, plain and simple. Betances leads all relievers in baseball with 84 strikeouts and has been unhittable. His amazing first half was capped off with a spot in tomorrow night’s all-star game.
When Mariano Rivera retired from the Yankees after last season, no one knew how he could possibly be replaced. Well, David Robertson has done more than his job converting 23/25 save opportunities. Aside from one outing in which he gave up 5 runs, Robertson has been one of the best closers in baseball.