When I did this a month ago the Yankees were six games over .500 and today they are seven games over .500 so May wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t especially good either.
The highlights from April were at second base, left field, DH, and the starting rotation while lowlights included shortstop, third base, right field and the bullpen. Let’s see which positions thrived and which struggled during the second month of the season.
CATCHER (.218 wOBA, 28th in MLB)
This position was a strength last month, but the loss of Francisco Cervelli, broken hand, and going without Chris Stewart for a couple of weeks, groin injury, really set them back. Austin Romine has hit just .159/.178/.205 in 18 games this season.
FIRST BASE (.326 wOBA, 18th in MLB)
This position stayed consistent from last month dropping from 17th to 18th place. Lyle Overbay got the bulk of the playing time here and had a decent month when he hit .253/.308/.474. Expect a slight, but not huge, bump in production over the next month with Mark Teixeira back.
SECOND BASE (.333 wOBA, 9th in MLB)
Robinson Cano played at a MVP level in April, but was much less impressive in May as he hit just .257/.319/.477. Considering he was basically the Yankees entire offense throughout most of the month it’s no surprise the Yankees were only one game above .500 last month.
SHORTSTOP (.269 wOBA, 25th in MLB)
Shortstop was basically the same in May as it was in April for the Yankees — bad. Jayson Nix got the bulk of the time and hit just .269/.352/.333 which isn’t terrible, but throw in at bats from Eduardo Nunez, Reid Brignac, and Alberto Gonzalez and the Yankees got some awful production from this position. On the plus side, three of those four players played good defense (Nunez was the exception).
THIRD BASE (.284 wOBA, 21st in MLB)
Another position where the Yankees were scrambling to fill and used Nix to fill it. David Adams and Chris Nelson also saw some action here. Kevin Youkilis is back so we should see some improvement in June, but Joe Girardi seems to have begun platooning him at third base while still using Adams when he needs to so production could continue to be subpar.
LEFT FIELD (.276 wOBA, 28th in MLB)
A huge, huge dropoff for the Yankees because Vernon Wells basically disappeared and hit just .221/.250/.365. Curtis Granderson got some playing time, but he was a bit rusty and eventually landed on the DL again with a broken hand. Hopefully Wells can regain that early form, but it seems more likely that he has reverted to the form he had taken the past two years.
CENTER FIELD (.335 wOBA, 9th in MLB)
Brett Gardner has been one of the more consistent Yankees this season and has played great defense in center which is why the Yankees left him there when Granderson returned. If anything he’s gotten a little bit better as the season goes on.
RIGHT FIELD (.300 wOBA, 24th in MLB)
Ichiro Suzuki got the majority of the playing time here and hit just .247/.272/.360 which is why they’re so bad at the position. The Yankees have gotten so desperate at the corner outfield positions that they have moved Overbay here. Hopefully that works out and they can get some offense out of this usually very offensive position.
DESIGNATED HITTER (.266 wOBA, 14th in the AL)
The Yankees got amazing production from the DH in April, but after Travis Hafner hurt his shoulder in early May he hit just .179/.286/.299. Throw in some bad at bats by Ben Francisco and the position went from a great strength to a major weakness. Hopefully Hafner stays healthy and returns to form.
OVERALL OFFENSE (.288 wOBA, 27th in MLB)
With injuries to Youkilis, and Hafner and Wells disappearing the Yankees lost a sizable portion of their offense so they dropped from 7th to 27th overall. This was always supposed to be a team built on pitching, but they won’t make the playoffs without major improvements to the lineup.
STARTING ROTATION (3.81 ERA, 3rd in the AL, 11th overall)
The Yankees offense might have taken a step back, but at least the rotation was consistent. They lost Andy Pettitte, which hurt, but they also lost Ivan Nova, which was addition by subtraction. Vidal Nuno was also very good filling in and David Phelps was decent as a spot starter as well. If CC Sabathia can build off his last start then things could get even better in June.
BULLPEN (2.20 ERA, best in MLB)
The Yankees bullpen was the best in baseball during May. Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Shawn Kelley were the biggest reason for that, but the emergence of Preston Claiborne also played a big role. Joba Chamberlain is back after missing nearly a month so even the underbelly on this pen is strong.
DEFENSE (4.3 UZR, 14th in MLB)
Vernon Wells has actually been the best defensive player on the Yankees so far this season with a 4.6 UZR with Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki right behind him so the Yankees have a very good defensive outfield this season. Overbay has been strong too and, more recently, so has David Adams at third. The biggest problems defensively include Kevin Youkilis at third, Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, and even Robinson Cano (-0.4 UZR). These are extremely small sample sizes as far as defensive statistics are concerned though so we could see some major fluctuations in the future still.
YANKEES MVP FOR MAY – Hiroki Kuroda
Kuroda made five starts for the Yankees in May and had a 2.56 ERA, a 4.6 K/9 and a 0.9 BB/9 in 31.7 innings. More importantly, he has stepped up as the team’s ace with CC Sabathia struggling. Brett Gardner and any member of the bullpen also played imperative roles on the team in May.
Photo credit: (June 1, 2013 – Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America).