2014 Yankees mid-season report cards: Position Players

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I did something like this at the end of the 2013 season, but with the All-Star Break upon us, I figured it would have been a good time to grade the players on what they’ve done so far. Each day until the All-Star Break ends, I’ll post a mid-season report card for the Position Players, Starting Rotation, Bullpen and Bench Players. I figured splitting it up instead of cramming it into one big article would make more sense. So without further ado, Part One of the 2014 mid-season report cards: The Position Players.

Brett Gardner: Brett Gardner has had a very impressive season so far, and if the American League outfield wasn’t crowded with power-hitting outfielders, Gardner could have made the All-Star team as a reserve. He already has a career high in home runs, he’s been more aggressive at the plate, he leads the Yankees in runs, in WAR and he has the highest batting average with RISP. He’s been the most consistent for the Yankees and there’s no doubt.

Gardner’s Mid-Season Grade:

 B+

Derek JeterIt’s Derek Jeter’s final season, which means he’s going to the All-Star game to be honored. Jeter’s had an average year for someone in his final season, and while he only has two home runs and 25 RBI’s on the season thus far, there’s still a whole second half to go. He hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been sensational either: he’s just been average.

Jeter’s Mid-Season Grade:

C

Jacoby EllsburyFirst off, I’m still not a huge fan of the Jacoby Ellsbury contract only because they paid him $153 Million to be a carbon copy of Brett Gardner. With that being said, Jacoby Ellsbury has been solid for the Yankees so far, leading the team in stolen bases and already notching 42 RBI’s. The one issue with him during the first half was inconsistency; other than that he’s been a very good player for the Yankees. I’m just not sure his playing level lives up to his contract.

Ellsbury’s Mid-Season Grade:

B-

Mark Teixeira: Mark Teixeira entered the season coming back from a wrist injury but no one has brought it up with the power numbers he’s been bringing to the table. Sure, he’s never going to be the 2009 vintage Mark Teixeira, but 17 home runs and 49 RBI’s in the first half of the season is not bad at all. If we’re being honest, Teixeira’s the only middle-of-the-order guy who has been hitting for power, which is why he stands out among the other heart-of-the-order guys.

Teixeira’s Mid-Season Grade:

B

Brian McCannAs of late, McCann has been performing much better, but I have to take the entire first half into account and not just the last few weeks. McCann’s average isn’t where it needs to be, and for a player who has power, the 10 home runs is pretty disappointing. The Yankees signed McCann because they believed with his power and the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium, the power numbers would increase. He’s still not hitting for power at this point, but he has been hitting more singles since eliminating a toe tap from his batting stance. With that adjustment, there’s hope McCann could have a strong second half of the season.

McCann’s Mid-Season Grade:

C

Brian Roberts: First off, I have to give Brian Roberts major credit for staying healthy, especially when everyone else thought he was going to be injured in just a few games. Now with that being said, Roberts has been very streaky but through it all he has five home runs and 20 RBI’s; not to mention he’s been getting more extra base-hits. Not bad Roberts. Not bad at all.

Roberts Mid-Season Grade:

C

Carlos BeltranThe Yankees signed Carlos Beltran with hopes that his power would translate over the right field porch. Unfortunately, he’s just hitting .216 with nine home runs and 28 RBI’s. (Newsflash: Brett Gardner has as many home runs and more RBI’s than Beltran–and Gardner’s the lead-off guy). The numbers have been disappointing but what’s even worse is Beltran’s injuries. Injuries have forced the Yankees to use the DH spot strictly for Beltran when it was supposed to be used for Derek Jeter, just to give the captain an occasional day off. Let’s just say the first half of 2014 has not gone the way Beltran (or Yankees fans) envisioned it.

Beltran’s Mid-Season Grade:

C-

Kelly JohnsonFor the purpose of this report card, I’m going to use Kelly Johnson as the Yankees third basemen. Before Yangervis Solarte came on the scene, Johnson was supposed to be the primary third basemen for the Yankees. With that said, Kelly Johnson has had his moments, but his bat has been lackluster all throughout the first half. A .214 batting average with a .299 OBP is not going to cut it. Even the power numbers are a little sad. He has the power to hit 20 home runs but he’s only hit six this year–and has only driven in 20 runs. Johnson just hasn’t worked out so far for the Yankees and if he wants to keep his job in the second half of the season, he’s going to have to really work on getting on base–and he has to work on defense.

Johnson’s Mid-Season Grade:

C-

Ichiro SuzukiIchiro originally started the season as the fifth outfielder to Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano. However, with the injury to Beltran and Soriano’s sluggish playing, Ichiro fought tooth and nail to get into the starting lineup and eventually started playing the outfield more regularly. Ichiro has been getting his hits, he has a .297 average in 81 games, but he struggles with with RISP. Other than that, the defense is great and he can hit singles like there’s no tomorrow. You don’t expect much from a player who’s 40-years-old, but Ichiro has somewhat exceeded my expectations.

Suzuki’s Mid-Season Grade:

B-

Tomorrow: I grade the 2014 Yankees starting rotation, which has seen a lot of changes in just three months.

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12 Responses to 2014 Yankees mid-season report cards: Position Players

  1. John says:

    I wish I had teachers like you in school. Beltran should get an F and Johnson a D at best.

  2. Charlie Clark says:

    John, I totally agree with you, Johnson has sucked at best, even when he had more playing time. A hit once every 3 games isn't hacking it and even minor league guys should be able to give what this guy has at his best. On top of that he does not play defense very well.

  3. I'm in agreement with John. These are some rosy grades.

    Beltran has been a tremendous disaster. Johnson has not only been a liability at the plate, but has hurt them in the field as well. Both deserve Fs. McCann should be another F. He's earning $17 million in the first year of a 5-year contract, but is currently on pace for career lows in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. To me, that's another F.

    Other grades aren't as egregious, but also bad.

  4. Yankees player rankings by WAR: McCann is 13th out of 18 catchers with at least 250 plate appearances with a 1.1 WAR, Teixeira 19th out of 28 at 0.9, Roberts 19th out of 23 with a 0.3, Jeter 22nd out of 28 at 0.6, Solarte 25th out of 30 among 3rd basemen at 0.9, Beltran 27th out of 27 at -0.8, Ellsbury 10th out of 28 at 1.9, and Gardner is 3rd out of 23 with a 2.7 WAR.

    You gave a guy with a -0.8 WAR a C-. You might need to rethink that.

  5. Ron Tamoschat says:

    Ichiro is totally useless at the plate. All he gets is meaningless infield hits (13 I believe) and an occaisonal pop fly that falls in. With RISP he gives you nothing. Not even a sacrifice fly. A corner outfielder is a power/production position and Ichiro has got to have the worst stats in the game for a corner outfielder. If he would just stand in there and take a legitimate swing at the ball instead of falling off it and trying to hit it while running to first base , he might have a chance to drive it once in a while. I really can't stand to see him in the lineup anymore. It's just a waste of a batting slot.

  6. Mike Sommer says:

    McCann, D. Beltran, F. Johnson, F. Ichiro C-, because there is no extra base pop there whatsoever. He doesn't even have warning track power right now.

  7. Michael R says:

    I would have to agree with the criticisms of your lenient grading system (McCann, Beltran, and Johnson especially).

  8. Yankeefan says:

    It is time to face facts, this team sucks!!!!!!!!!!!! Even the team they fielded last year was more enjoyable to watch and that is just sad.

  9. Robert Rufa says:

    Bad rap for Ichiro. There's seldom anyone on in front of him to advance, and seldom does someone come to bat who will advance him. A singles hitter will score runs if he's followed by power guys, and being on to score runs is as important as driving them in with doubles. If he can't bad 2nd, he'd be better off batting last. At least he'd be followed by Gardner once in a while.

    • Mike Sommer says:

      Disagree completely. Ichiro's Slugging Average is worse than his OBP. That is NOT a good thing. 60 hits, only 7 for extra bases. Repeat: That is NOT good.

  10. Balt Yank says:

    I think Johnson has to be cut and Roberts made PT for rookies to have a shot and provide hope (and maybe hits). Ichiro is a good fourth outfielder, and call me crazy, he could hit second so others could bat him in and the team maximize Ichiro's singles and speed. Jeter, hitting 270 on this year's team is an asset and Jeter could hit 5-6. Check this out: Gardner, Ichiro, Ellsbury, Tex, Jeter//McCann, Solarte/Rookie (3B), Roberts/Rookie (2B), Cervilli//McCann (C/DH). Okay, so we have only 6 major league hitters this year, I admit it.

    • Mike Sommer says:

      Jeter hit 5-6? Are you nuts? He, like Ichiro, has a slugging average worse than his OBP. I repeat. That is NOT a good thing.