Back in April if you were told that the New York Yankees would lose Mariano Rivera and Michael Pineda for the season, along with significant injuries to Andy Pettitte, Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. Could you in your wildest dreams believe the Bronx Bombers would be sitting in first place with the best record (52-33) in baseball? Not I and I am sure not you either, but they have weathered the storm of injuries and lack of hitting with RISP so far.
How have they done it? Hitting the long ball, they don't call them the Bronx Bombers for nothing. New York has lived up to their nickname leading the Major Leagues with 134 home runs and 308 walks. The Yankees also have a baseball leading seven players in double figures for home runs. The Yankees are 35-8 when hitting multiple homers in a game, but are only 2-14 in games where they don't hit a jack. Obviously they are living and dying by the home run and are worst in the Majors with RISP batting under .200.
Let's look at the good, bad and ugly in the first half. Captain Derek Jeter, who turned 38 this year, started off in April on a blistering pace hitting .389, 37 hits and an OPS of 1.012. Derek continued his hot hitting thru May, cooled off a bit in June, but has picked it back up again in July hitting .344 for the month and .308 overall. He led the American League since the start of the season in hits and just recently has dropped to second place with 108. Jeter was selected as starting shortstop for this year's All-Star game, making it his 13th appearance in 18 seasons in Pinstripes. Derek recently passed Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th place on the all-time hits list and past Ted Williams for 17th place on the all-time runs scored list. Jeter ranks first in the AL with a .346 (62-for-179) road batting avg. and second in the AL with a .381 (37-for-97) average vs. LHP.
After a slow start Robinson Cano is on a 15 game hitting streak batting .429 with eight home runs, 16 RBIs and eight multi-hit games. Cano also was selected as a starter to the All-Star game along with Jeter, Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia. Cano's 20 home runs leads all MLB second baseman which is his fourth consecutive season of 20 or more jacks.
New York leads the Baltimore Orioles by seven games in the AL East and owns the league best road record at 28-17 (.612).
The bullpen till very recently has been the one of the strengths with this club. Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, Corey Wade, David Phelps, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano have been stellar in keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Soriano has 19 saves this season and fit nicely into the role vacated by the injury to Rivera.
Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones have been extremely productive coming off the bench for manager Joe Girardi. Ibanez has 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 76 games for the Bombers. Ibanez has seen more time in the outfield because of the Brett Gardner injury. Chavez in only 131 plate appearances is batting .289 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. Jones in an even more limited role with only 122 ABs has hit 11 home runs and driven in 22.
The bad has been the continuing lack of hitting with RISP. When the Yankees get to the playoffs you see better pitching and less home runs are usually hit. New York must start to find a way to drive in runs with hits and manufacture some runs when needed rather than waiting for the proverbial three run homer.
Alex Rodriguez seems to have turned into a singles hitter showing less power this year then in years past. Rodriguez must start driving the ball and getting RBIs to help this club advance through the second half of the season and beyond.
Now the ugly, Russell Martin is below the "Mendoza line" having an awful time at the plate. Russell is hitting .179 with 49 strikeouts and only 37 hits in 68 games. In his last 31 plate appearances he has one hit, two walks and nine strikeouts. Can this lineup continue to carry Martin on their backs or will a move have to be made before the trading deadline or before the end of the season?
Right now despite the issues with the starting rotation and injuries the Yankees are pretty happy they are sitting a top of the AL East with the best record in baseball. With Chamberlain and Gardner getting closer to returning and Sabathia ready to get back into the fold after the All-Star break it could be worse and New York could be in Boston's position.
Looking forward to an even better second half and march to the playoffs.
The Yankees are off for the All-Star break till Friday July 13th when they host the Los Angles Angels for a three-game weekend set.
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