Even though I almost always have more pressing things I should be attending to, I can’t help myself from looking through baseball-reference.com’s Yankees page. For today, I thought it would be interesting to see who the Yankees’ best hitters have been. Not defense, not baserunning – just swinging the bat.
One of the more useful stats for looking at just hitting, in my opinion, is OPS+. This ignores things: not only baserunning and defense, but also positional value. So again, we’re just looking at hitting.
I ignored anyone with less than 50 plate appearances and anyone with under 150 I denote with an asterisk, as they are either a part-time player or have been injured. All numbers are accurate as of Friday (so they don’t include Friday night’s poor performance). Remember, an OPS+ of 100 means league average.
1. Robinson Cano – 183
Not that surprising. Cano still isn’t walking all that much, but he is hitting for more power than he ever has before and is still hitting for average, as he leads the league in batting average as of Friday. When you consider that he plays a good second base, that’s an MVP caliber season Cano is putting up so far.
2. Jorge Posada* – 170
Posada has missed a good deal of time, but when he has been in the lineup, he has hit and hit for power. If he can sustain something close to this, his bat could play at DH, though obviously Posada is much more valuable if he gets some reps behind the plate.
3. Nick Swisher – 159
The Swish has been the Yankees 2nd best hitter who hasn’t missed significant time and I’m not sure if the casual observer realizes quite how good he’s been this year.
4. Marcus Thames* – 141
This number is not only skewed because of a small sample size, as Thames is only a part-time player, but also because Thames is generally only used against lefties. So in theory, he should always have good hitting numbers as he almost always has favorable matchups. That said, Thames has been exactly what the Yankees were looking for: a power bat that hits lefties. Sure, he’s had some bad moments in the field, but that’s not why the Yankees acquired him.
5. Alex Rodriguez – 140
By A-Rod’s standards, this is a slow start. Really everything is there except for the power, though he’s gone deep in some big spots (just ask Jonathan Papelbon).
6. Curtis Granderson* – 119
Granderson’s injury was disappointing, but when healthy, Granderson has been a very productive hitter. When you take into account his other skills, he’s been pretty much what the Yankees hoped for.
7. Brett Gardner – 115
Given Gardner’s speed and defense, an OPS+ around 100 would still mean he’s having a very good year. Obviously Gardner is exceeding expectations and it will be interesting to see if he has truly figured out big league pitching or if this is just a small sample size. His plate discipline is encouraging, as it should keep him from hitting a prolonged slump.
8. Derek Jeter – 113
The Captain was off to a poor start, but a hot couple of weeks has gotten his numbers back to close to what you’d expect from one of the best hitting shortstops of all time.
9. Francisco Cervelli* – 105
I actually thought this would be higher, due to Cervelli’s crazy batting average. Cervelli has little in the way of power however. Still, his knack for making pitchers work and finding ways to get on base (read: bloop singles) make him extremely valuable as a part-time catcher.
10. Mark Teixeira – 98
The most stunning number here. Not only has Tex been a below average hitter, he’s doing it while playing first base, a position that demands offensive production. He is currently being out-slugged by Brett Gardner. In some ways, it’s amazing the Yankees have done as well as they have considering Tex’s prolonged slump. You have to think this number will start to go up relatively soon.
11. Juan Miranda* – 97
I actually expected this number to be a bit higher. I’ve been impressed with Miranda overall. He’s had a couple extra base hits robbed from him thanks to great defensive plays, that, had they been hits, would make this number much better given Miranda’s limited ABs. Moving forward, Miranda should be a serviceable 1B/DH against righties until either Nick Johnson comes back or the Yankees find another hitter via trade.
12. Nick Johnson* – 94
Everyone knows I love Nick Johnson. Did you know he’s still third on the team in walks behind A-Rod and Tex? He’s only one behind A-Rod. His OPS+ of 94 is actually pretty high considering he hit only .167. I just hope all the rumors of him being out for the season are false and that he can make an impact in the second half.
13. Randy Winn* – 65