Before I dive into this, I need to give Larry a shout out. Lar is on vacation. He normally writes our monthly wrap ups (among many other things). I’m just subbing for him. In case you were unaware, Larry loves his baseball analysis. I can now confirm that he loves it more than I do. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into these posts. Get back soon Lar! I’m not sure I have another one of these in me.
Without further ado, here’s how the Yankees did as a team in June and on the season to date (all data in all tables come from Fangraphs):
It didn’t take a sharp baseball mind to figure out that the Yankees had an excellent month in June. What totally passed me by, however, is that the team has finished each month of the season in first place in the AL East. The team currently sits in its strongest position to date, entering July with a full 2.5 game lead on the Boston Red Sox. Considering the injury troubles the Yankees have had this season, the second half promises to be exciting.
The Yankee recipe for victory the past few seasons has been the same: world beating hitting, with solid pitching. That has continued this year. The offense is the best in the AL in a number of categories, and narrowly beats the Boston Red Sox for the best wOBA by a whopping .001 points. The pitching meanwhile, has been respectable as a whole, with better performance from the starting five in June. Given that Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes are expected back sometime in July, the Yankees look to be in a position of strength entering July and August, when playoff races will begin to cement themselves.
On the offensive side of the ledger, June was the Nick Swisher story:
Swish led the Yankees in every important offensive category, narrowly beating out an also surging Jorge Posada, who’s output didn’t translate to as much in terms of value because he’s a DH. Lost in the shuffle was Alex Rodriguez (I never thought I’d write that). A-Rod only hit 4 home runs in June, but who cares? He was on fire. He posted a .427 wOBA for the month, which was third best on the team! Any ball club with three players posting wOBAs of .420 or better is going to win a lot of games.
Among the other notables, Curtis Granderson cooled considerably in June, but still put together an excellent month. Brett Gardner‘s hot hitting continued. If he hit for more power he’d probably also have posted a .400+ wOBA. Finally, Mark Teixeira had an odd month. On the one hand, he hit nine homers and now has 25 on the season. On the other hand, his OBP fell to an anemic .312. Tex’s BABIP stands out like a sore thumb. In June it was the lowest on the team. For the season it sits at just .210. Tex has a .298 career BABIP. Even last season his BABIP was .268, which was a career low. Tex’s homer rate is through the roof this year, so some depression in BABIP is to be expected, but his BB% and K% are both better this year than his career norms. Expect that BABIP to come up, considerably. When it does, look out!
Here’s how everyone has done on the season:
The big stand out here is that virtually all of Nick Swisher’s value came in June. He’s been worth 1.8 fWAR on the season, and posted 1.7 of that in June. He’ll come back down to Earth, but his June surge saved his season. The other thing that catches my eye is that Jorge is just a touch above replacement level on the year. That’s what happens when you dig yourself a tremendous hole as a DH.
After that the season remains the Curtis Granderson show. His combination of defense, speed and power makes him the favorite to lead the team in fWAR for the entire season, although A-Rod is possibly one homer surge shy of leap frogging him for the team lead. Offensively I’d also pay attention to Mark Teixeira, for the BABIP reasons outlined above, and because if you turn your head while he’s batting he’ll put one in the people.
Here’s how the pitching has done in June:
Don’t let those random yellows highlighting unusual rate stat performances in small samples fool you. On the stump, June was the CC Sabathia show! CC has been worth 3.9 fWAR on the season and posted about 40% of that in June. His FIP was incredible for a starter, while the rest of his numbers were his usual, beastly self. The most impressive number isn’t actually on the table. CC gave the Yankees 45 innings in six starts in June, or just about 7.2 innings per start. He’s on pace to give the Yankees 265.2 innings this season, which would be the most of his career by far, but he’s doing it efficiently. CC is taking it to another level this season and is in the process of locking up quite the extension from the Bombers.
After CC the big Yankee standout is David Robertson. His total performance is right up there with Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett, both of whom are starters. For a reliever to be as valuable as a starter is incredible. For the sake of full disclosure, it is important to note that D-Rob is a walking strike out, which artificially inflates his value. Pitchers who strike out a lot of batters are extremely valuable, particularly as relievers, but it is important to note that if Robertson were just as effective but got more ground ball outs his value stats would look more like Mariano Rivera‘s, who last I’ve heard can pitch a little. That being said, Robertson is emerging as an elite reliever. The only ingredient he’s missing is walks. If he can get those under control he becomes the next Yankee closer, no questions asked.
Here’s how the pitching has fared for the season:
As I mentioned earlier, it’s CC and everybody else. Stunningly, even though he missed most of the month with an injury, Bartolo Colon remains the Yankee’s second best pitcher on the year. He’ll be coming back on Saturday. If he pitches even 80% as well as he did before the injury he’s a lock to be the Yankees second best pitcher on the season, provided he can stay healthy.
After those two, the one-two relief pitching punch of Mo and D-Rob stands out tremendously, while the low value on the season for Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett is surprising. For both starters these low value stats are entirely due to their low strike out rates. In Garcia’s case it is due to his low strike out rate overall, while in A.J.’s case it is due to his low strike out rate relative to what he has done in the past. Garcia simply doesn’t miss a lot of bats, which will lower his fWAR. Burnett, on the other hand, is putting up rate stats similar to his 2009 season, but striking fewer batters out, which harms his overall value. Each of these two has been more valuable than the numbers suggest, but not exceptional.
On the whole, I’m excited for the second half of the season. I mentioned to my co-blogger Matt Warden that I was hesitant to admit this in so public a forum because I’m superstitious when it comes to sports, for which he lambasted me. I thank him for that. Now I can come right out and say my piece and blame any negative spill over on him. In short, the Yankees are set up for the second half. The offense has been incredible, and neither Tex nor A-Rod has been the best hitter on the team yet, something that changed just about this time last season. The pitching, meanwhile, has been excellent and is about to get back two arms. Nothing is guaranteed, but that is a position of strength, no matter what.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees