We have finished the final weekend of April, and the New York Yankees find themselves in second place, 2.5 games out, in the American League Eastern Division with a record of 15-9. I predicted – and still predict – them to win the division. To quote a few clichés, it is still very early, anything can happen, and there is a lot of baseball left. However, I feel great about this year’s Yankees.
As a teacher, I give out grades frequently, so it is easy for me to assign the Yankees a report card. Here is my New York Yankees April, 2013, report card for the close of play on April 28.
Only somewhat surprisingly, this New York Yankees makeshift lineup is ranked in the top half of the American League in runs scored. The Yankees have scored 112 runs, averaging 4.67 per game. They are hitting only .255 as a team, but they lead the A.L. in home runs (35) and are second in slugging percentage (.435). The Yankees make their hits count. Robinson Cano expectedly leads the team with 7 HR and 17 RBI.
The “somewhat surprises” come from Travis Hafner (6 HR, 14 RBI) and Vernon Wells (6 HR, 12 RBI). Even Lyle Overbay has 11 RBI. Leading in average are Cano (.316), Hafner (.305), and Wells (.294). If Ichiro Suzuki (.247), Brett Gardner (.253), and Edwin Nunez (.169) get it going soon, then this grade may improve to A or A+, especially when Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson return.
It would be easy to see the Yankees ranked ninth in the American League in fielding and think they have some problems. Seeing a .983 fielding percentage makes that ranking look a little nicer. Fifteen errors in 24 games is a little high but nothing to panic about. Pitchers have allowed only six unearned runs as a result of those errors.
In Derek Jeter ‘s and Teixeira’s absence, the infield is a just little bit weaker. Shortstop Edwin Nunez has committed two errors for a .969 FPCT, and Kevin Youkilis is fielding .971 at third. Robinson Cano has been flawless, and Lyle Overbay has only one error at first.
In the outfield, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner are more than solid. Vernon Wells has been dynamite, and the fill-ins have done the job. The entire outfield has a total of exactly one error in 24 games.
The problem has come from behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli (now out with a fractured hand) has committed four errors, but the pitching has helped to stem the tide from those errors.
Starting Rotation: B-
The New York Yankees are in the middle of the pack in overall team ERA with the starting rotation at 3.63, sixth best in the A.L. The starters have allowed 62 total runs in 144 innings or 3.88 runs per game. Andy Pettitte leads the starters with a 2.22 ERA, and Hiroki Kuroda is at 2.79. CC Sabathia (3.35) is his normal self. The problem is the now-injured Ivan Nova at 6.48, and Phil Hughes is up to 4.67. Still, though, the Yankees starters have a record of 11-7.
Bullpen ERA can be a little deceiving, but a 4.13 ERA still says something. The bullpen is a little weaker than in the past few years. Closer Mariano Rivera is his old self, maybe better, at 1.80 and perfect in nine save opportunities. David Phelps (5.69) has had his trouble. Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan are doing as well as usual. The deceptively high ERA comes from Cody Epply’s 21.60 ERA – but in only 1.2 innings.
I have said many times that manager Joe Girardi gets the best from his role players. Many wrote off Hafner, Overbay, and Wells as has-beens that could not keep the Yankees going with their stars out. Girardi plays the match-ups brilliantly, and the players execute. There is something special about putting on those pinstripes to rejuvenate a so-called has-been. These three and Youkilis have done more than fans may have expected so far.
It is only April, and I still believe that this New York Yankees team will win the American League East. They may not run away with the division, but if they maintain this pace until Jeter, Granderson, and Teixeira return, then I see no reason why the New York Yankees cannot play October baseball again in 2013.
Major League Baseball, Sortable Team Statistics and Yankees Player Statistics, mlb.mlb.com as of April 28, 2013.