The Yankees have survived the first month and change of the 2013 seasons without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis etc. In fact, they have thrived, two losses to the generally punchless Seattle Mariners notwithstanding.
The Yankees are 25-16, in first place in the American League East, and have just gotten Curtis Granderson back. Teixeira has said he is on his way, hoping to be suiting up for the big league club by the end of May.
With the Grandy-man back in the fold and Teixeira coming does this mean the Yankees are due to blow away the rest of the division and romp to another AL East crown? After all, they’re doing this while giving regular at-bats to Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay!
Not so fast. Of course, adding Granderson and Teixeira to any team is obviously a plus, but a basic look at the numbers shows that the play of Wells and Overbay, and to an extent Kevin Youkilis before he got hurt, effectively replaced Granderson and Teixeira.
Nobody on the Yankees is having some sort of Mike Trout-esque breakout that figures to be bolstered by stars returning. Simply put, the guys like Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner have gone about their business as they typically do, while Overbay became Teixeira and Wells became Granderson. The Yankees lost two stars in name but not production.
Curtis Granderson’s numbers in April and May of 2012: .259, 16 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB, .915 OPS.
Vernon Wells’ numbers this season: .301, 10 HR, 23 RBI, 4 SB, .895 OPS.
Now the power wasn’t the same, but consider that May isn’t over yet for Wells. Also, Wells’ OPS was very close to Granderson’s and Wells is hitting 42 points higher. Let’s do the same comparison for Mark Teixeira and Lyle Overbay.
Mark Teixeira in April and May of 2012: .256, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 1 SB, .792 OPS.
Lyle Overbay this season: .266, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB, .810 OPS.
Overbay has done just as well as Teixeira did last year! He has even posted a 4.6 UZR so far in 2013, so he’s dulled the pain of losing Teixeira’s glove as well.
The real injury issue that has reared it’s ugly head has been Jeter’s. It hurts more because many Yankees fans, and I suspect members of the front office, never expected the Captain to miss as much time as he has. In his absence, Eduardo Nunez has been dreadful as the everyday shortstop.
According to Fangraphs.com, Nunez has been worth -4.1 runs defensively, which was to be expected. What nobody could have saw coming was his .200 batting average with zero home runs and four RBI in 95 plate appearances before getting injured.
The bat Yogi Berra so desperately wanted in the lineup on a daily basis has completely sputtered in a full-time role while Jayson Nix has only been slightly better. Shortstop is a big hole that the Yankees may need to go outside the organization to fill, especially if Jeter continues to experience setbacks.
All in all, the return of Granderson and Teixeira will be good for the Yankees. While Wells and Overbay have performed admirably in their stead, they will remain on the team as quality veteran depth, much like Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez did last year. Well, Overbay will at least.
Vernon Wells has done so well, and Ichiro Suzuki so poorly, that Wells may continue to play in right or left while Ichiro is left the part time scraps. Whichever way Joe Girardi decides to play it, he’s in a far better spot than anyone thought he would be after a month and a half of play.
Photo credit: (May 20, 2011 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America).