The Yankees were surprisingly good in April, about .500 in May, but have started sliding after a tough June. Let’s take a look at where the Yankees did well and where they struggled in the month of June (Sunday night’s stats not included).
CATCHER (.268 wOBA, 24th in MLB)
Believe it or not, the Yankees catchers actually did slightly better in June than they did in May. Chris Stewart‘s .250/.344/.288 line is really only troubling in his complete lack of power. Austin Romine somehow improved and still hit just .217/.217/.261.
FIRST BASE (.265 wOBA, 27th in MLB)
The Yankees dropped off big time at this position after getting solid production from Lyle Overbay in April and May. Overbay hit just .217/.254/.350 which is more a huge drop in power than anything else. Of course, the Yankees did briefly get Mark Teixeira back, but he was still injured and wasn’t much help as he hit just .160/.271/.360 in 50 at bats. He did pick up a couple of big home runs, but that just shows you how bad he was besides those shots to have such a horrible line.
SECOND BASE (.330 wOBA, 12th in MLB)
Robinson Cano continues to slide each month this season. He’s still getting on base, but is not hitting like himself and is not hitting for power either. The problem seems to be that teams are just pitching around him so he’s not getting any chances to really drive the ball. His line was .264/.391/.379 in 87 at bats.
SHORTSTOP (.226 wOBA, 26th in MLB)
The Yankees have been consistent at shortstop this season. Consistently bad that is. Jayson Nix (.230/.295/.310) got the bulk of the playing time here because Reid Brignac was so bad the Yankees had to cut him. Alberto Gonzalez didn’t have a hit in 12 plate appearances.
THIRD BASE (.219 wOBA, worst in MLB)
Things were bad in April and May at third, but somehow got even worse in June. Youkilis came back briefly, but, like Teixeira, he was never actually healthy and was probably rushed back. He hit just .135/.238/.216 in 42 plate appearances. Nix go the bulk of the time at third base overall and hit just .230/.295/.310. Lately David Adams has been getting more time here and has hit just .130/.216/.130 which is obviously disappointing. Once again, A-Gon went 0-for-12 at this position.
LEFT FIELD (.208 wOBA, worst in MLB)
Vernon Wells had an amazing April and everyone got excited. Unfortunately he’s so bad now that if he weren’t on a two-year deal he would have been DFA’d by now. He hit just .135/.145/.149 in 76 plate appearances. Thomas Neal was a dud, but luckily Zoilo Almonte came up and hit .310/.364/.517 in 33 plate appearances giving Yankees fans some hope that there could be some improvement in July.
CENTER FIELD (.389 wOBA, 2nd in MLB)
Finally something good to talk about. Brett Gardner was amazing in June. He hit .343/.380/.529 and played amazing defense. I wish he could go back to stealing bases, but it’s hard to hold that against him when he’s hitting so well. With Cano struggling there is no doubt that he’s the best offensive player on this team.
RIGHT FIELD (.328 wOBA, 14th in MLB)
Ichiro Suzuki made big improvements in June after two bad months. He hit .304/.347/.424 and this position would have been even better if Thomas Neal contributed at all. He also played good defense and stole seven bases. Aside from Wells, he was the only player the Yankees added last offseason on a multi-year deal and it looks like this one might not be a total bust.
DESIGNATED HITTER (.251 wOBA, last in the AL)
Travis Hafner was the next to worst DH in the American League in May and was the worst in June. I don’t see any reason to expect this to change in July after he hit .167/.225/.348 in 71 plate appearances. April was a fluke. Oh yeah, Thomas Neal was bad. Did I mention that last part?
OVERALL OFFENSE (.273 wOBA, 29th in MLB)
Only the Astros lineup was worse than the Yankees in June and not by much. They were pathetic and require major upgrades at catcher, first base, shortstop, third base, left field, and DH. They might have found their upgrade with Almonte and Granderson will eventually come back, but they still have a long way to go to improve this offense. Unfortunately, I’m not sure those upgrades are coming.
STARTING ROTATION (4.71 ERA, 27th in MLB)
I knew they were struggling lately, but this is a bit of a surprise. This was a big source of success for the Yankees in the first two months, but only Hiroki Kuroda (3.92) had an ERA under 4.00 for the month. Phil Hughes was the next best at 4.55, then Andy Pettitte at 4.83. CC Sabathia (5.11) and David Phelps (5.54) had ugly months. Ivan Nova made one quality start. I wonder if the stress of having to be great every single game is getting to them.
BULLPEN (3.58 ERA, 15th in MLB)
The Yankees bullpen was the best in baseball in May so this was obviously a decent drop off. Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Boone Logan all had good months though. Throw Preston Claiborne into that mix as well. Really it was mostly Joba Chamberlain (9.35 ERA) throwing off their numbers. The bullpen is still a great strength.
DEFENSE (5.3 UZR, 12th in MLB)
The Yankees defense has been solid this year starting with their outfield of Gardner (5.3), Ichiro (4.8), and Wells (3.4). David Adams has been solid at third, even if his arm is weak, Almonte, Overbay and Gonzalez have been good in their small samples too. The biggest problems have been Nix at third, Ichiro in center, and don’t forget Overbay in right.
OVERALL MVP FOR JUNE – Brett Gardner (Cano won in April, Kuroda in May)
Where would the Yankees be without Brett Gardner? In a lineup where they struggle to make anything happen at all he’s been a savior and he’s getting it done defensively as well. With the month he just had he would stand out even on a good team. I wonder if he’s not the most underrated player in baseball right now.
Photo credit: (May 27, 2013 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America).