Entering the season a lot of people predicted doom and gloom, but here we are a little more than a month into the season and the plane has not crashed into the mountain even with 11 players on the DL.
Things are going well for the Yankees, for the most part. They are six games over .500 and Curtis Granderson should be back followed by a long list of his teammates. Let’s take a look at how the Yankees fair at each position in relation to the rest of the league.
CATCHER (.341 wOBA, 9th in the MLB)
This was the position that got a lot of attention in the offseason, but it hasn’t been as bad as expected. Yes, Russell Martin is tearing it up in Pittsburgh (he’s hitting .272/.362/.543 in 27 games), but Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart have held their own. With Cervelli out for two months Austin Romine has to step up for the Yankees to keep this up though.
FIRST BASE (.334 wOBA, 17th in the MLB)
Hearing the Yankees at 17th place sounds bad, but really Lyle Overbay has done a decent job replacing Mark Teixeira, hitting .253/.290/.484 and playing strong defense. Keep in mind that Teixeira is significantly overpaid and regressing each year. If he had not been hurt and had been playing up to last year’s numbers, a .344 wOBA, then the Yankees would only move up to 14th place on the list. It’s not all Overbay, by the way. Kevin Youkilis has played 17 games at first hitting .266/.347/.422.
SECOND BASE (.412 wOBA, 1st in the MLB)
Robinson Cano is dominating so far this season and is having a MVP-type season so seeing him as the best second baseman in baseball should not be a surprise.
SHORTSTOP (.254 wOBA, 26th in the MLB)
Do the Yankees miss Derek Jeter or what? Eduardo Nunez has significantly improved his defense, but offensively he’s been crap, hitting just .200/.290/.275. Jayson Nix has been forced to fill in a lot there too and he’s actually doing worse at .227/.272/.280. The Yankees need a new shortstop soon even if it’s not Jeter.
THIRD BASE (.276 wOBA, 22nd in the MLB)
Remember when Kevin Youkilis was red hot? Well that was a long time ago. Even before he landed himself on the DL, he cooled off and has only hit .266/.347/.422 at third. Jayson Nix, his primary replacement since getting hurt, has been crap as well hitting just .227/.272/.280 while at the hot corner.
LEFT FIELD (.357 wOBA, 9th in the MLB)
To the shock of pretty much everyone, including Brian Cashman who thought he was replacing Andruw Jones, Vernon Wells has been one of the best outfielders in baseball this season. He’s hitting .280/.339/.486 and has even played solid defense. Hopefully he keeps that up because it’s much needed.
CENTER FIELD (.327 wOBA, 12th in the MLB)
Brett Gardner has been decent for the Yankees this year, hitting .271/.336/.407, but he can do better. His OBP is low for him, he hasn’t lived up to his reputation on the bases, and hasn’t even been that amazing in center. So this is one position where we can legitimately expect an improvement even without anyone coming off the DL.
RIGHT FIELD (.292 wOBA, 23rd in the MLB)
This position has been manned by Ichiro Suzuki and Brennan Boesch and it was downright ugly early on. It’s getting better though. Over the last 14 games, Ichiro has hit .345/.390/.436. Hopefully Ichiro keeps it up because this corner outfield spot has been a big drain on the Yankees offense.
DESIGNATED HITTER (.372 wOBA, 3rd in the AL)
This would actually be better if Travis Hafner could play more often as he’s hitting .291/.417/.582, but unfortunately because he’s such an injury risk the Yankees have had to use Ben Francisco regularly and he’s hit just .133/.257/.233 in 15 games as the DH.
OFFENSE OVERALL (.330 wOBA, 7th in the MLB)
The Yankees are holding their own so far, but that’s a decent drop from the best overall wOBA in the MLB last season (.342) to seventh this year. Still, they have a lot of players coming off the DL in the next couple of months and if they can replace Jayson Nix and Ben Francisco while getting decent production out of Austin Romine they might be fine. Keeping Hafner healthy and getting Youkilis back ASAP is imperative too.
STARTING PITCHING (3.70 ERA, 5th in the AL, 10th overall)
The Yankees pitching staff has been decent, but it could be better. Hiroki Kuroda leads the way with a 2.25 ERA, but CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes have done a decent job as well. Andy Pettitte needs to pick it up and the No. 5 starters, Ivan Nova and David Phelps, have to do better than their 6.48 and 6.35 ERA’s respectively. If the group can stay healthy then I have faith in them.
BULLPEN (4.20 ERA, 12th in the AL, 21st overall)
The Yankees bullpen has been much worst than expected, but a lot of that is on the back end. Phelps has struggled to the tune of a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings and Shawn Kelley has been terrible with a 7.94 ERA in 11.1 innings. Joba Chamberlain‘s ERA was also skewed by a few bad appearances early on and David Robertson, who has been good for the most part, has been affected by a few bad starts. The bullpen is going to be the one place where small sample sizes can make them look worse and the easiest to replace spare parts (hello Cody Eppley) so give them some time before freaking out.
(Photo credit: April 26, 2013 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)