Maybe this is a post better saved for when the season actually ends, but I think a lot of these things are worth noting right now.
Regardless of how the postseason goes, when I think back to the 2011 regular season, the first thing I’ll think of is surprise. I didn’t think the Yankees would be a third place team, but given the state of the rotation, I did not think they would be this good. Going into yesterday, the Yankees were third in the AL in ERA, second in FIP, second in xFIP, and second in pitching fWAR (they were second to the White Sox in FIP/xFIP/fWAR). Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Put. Your. Hand. Down. At the beginning of the year, the rotation probably wasn’t as bad as we made it out to be, but there’s no way we could’ve seen this coming. If we pile on the injuries to Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain, that makes the performance even more impressive.
Leading the way in terms of surprises have to be Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, who, despite recent struggles, gave the Yankees more than they could have imagined. Luis Ayala and Cory Wade have also been damn good considering their scrap heap status. Ivan Nova has definitely turned some heads. He may not do it exactly the way we like and he may have trouble with turning over a lineup sometimes, but he’s given the Yankees a whole hell of a lot and has been better than I expected or anticipated. Even David Robertson qualifies as a surprise. We knew he was a good pitcher, but we had no idea he was capable of leading AL relievers in fWAR (2.6 before yesterday).
On offense, we’ve seen Brett Gardner post another strong offensive season, dropping his strikeout rate and increasing his “power” (.116 Iso) to a career high. To no one’s surprise, Gardner has been dynamite on defense. Russell Martin‘s 101 wRC+ may not be a lot to write home about, and is a bit disappointing considering his hot start, but that out of a catcher who plays good defense is definitely valuable. The biggest surprise with Martin, though, has definitely been his durability.
We’ve all complained about this team at some point this year (well, maybe not Moshe. Seriously, dude, how do you stay so rational? It’s beyond admirable.) but if anyone said this regular season was a disappointment, well, I’d find that remarkably hard to agree with. On an individual level, it would’ve been great to see better performances out of A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, but on a team level, I cannot take too much issue. The Yankees are on the edge of another playoff berth and another division title. No matter how you slice it, this has been a successful season.
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