And so having safely returned from New York, we turn our attention to what has been a very good month with the bat for the Yankees:
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – June|
Nick Swisher. Swisher is, as I mentioned in my May report, the streakiest player I have seen wearing a Yankees’ uniform in my quarter of a century following the club’s fortunes. And so in June, he broke out of the funk that had bedevilled him throughout the previous month and led the team in slugging and on-base percentage whilst being second behind the equally-improved Posada in batting average. Swisher goes from a man who does not believe he will ever hit again to one who confidently bestrides the plate and knows he will get a hit. This will, of course, all change in due course but these figures and seven of the ten home runs he has hit this season make us very glad for a bountiful June.
Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod took a step up from his performances in the first two months and with equal consistency produced good performances at a new level of achievement. His slugging figures continue to be below previous seasons (only third on the team this month, due mostly to a marked drop in homers) but he is serving us well whilst the spotlight remains intensely on his teammate who occupies the shortstop role.
Brett Gardner. Gardner continues to bat above his usual level, hitting primarily line drives with little power, but being a nuisance on the basepaths. He had a team-leading 9 steals on the month and is hitting for average at a level that he has previously been unable to maintain at the major league level. We will wait with interest to see if the second half delivers more of the Gardner of April or whether he can continue in this much more accomplished vein.
Robinson Cano. Cano, unlike most of the members of the starting line-up except Rodriguez, has not had to cope with a slump in form. Thus June was like each other month of the season so far. He achieved some dazzling defensive plays. He batted around the .300 mark (.303 this month). He adds a little power to the team at surprising moments. He makes few errors. He is just ahead of Granderson, from amongst the starting 9, amongst those who have impressed me this year.
Ramiro Pena. If you’d asked me at the start of the season who I would have chosen in the battle for central-infielder-off-the bench, I would have chosen Ramiro Pena over Eduardo Nunez. After seeing Nunez make some remarkable errors in the field over the first two months of the season, that option seemed even more viable to me. Having seen Pena’s dreadful time with the bat and worse time in the field during his June call up, Ramiro has lost my support and I will be glad to see the team rely on Nunez for the foreseeable future. In June, Pena batted .111 and only had two hits and most alarmingly, only 1 walk in his ten appearances.
Chris Dickerson. Last month, I was suggesting that the Yankees should release Andruw Jones and make Dickerson the regular 4th outfielder. This month, without Jones showing any noticeable improvement, Dickerson joined him at the lower end of the statistical table. The only thing to say in Dickerson’s favour is to note that as the 5th outfielder, he gets a third of the chances to impress given to Jones. The main problem is that in the 6 chances he was given, he managed one hit (a double) and not a solitary single or walk.
Andruw Jones. Which brings us to Jones, who also managed a .167 average on the month. He does show markedly more patience at the plate than Dickerson, resulting in 4 walks but has less speed and is a shadow of the player he once was. My choice for 4th outfielder? I’m left hoping that Greg Golson will be available soon and prove suitable for call-up.
Russell Martin. Martin positively creaked his way through June and once again suggested to me that he is too prone to injury to be our everyday catcher. He showed in April what he can do. He showed in May and June that we cannot rely on that because when he is not out injured then he seems to be carrying an injury that he is seeking to play through.
Jorge Posada. It has to be admitted that when I arrived in New York on the 6th of June, I had pretty much given up the hope that Posada would ever make the breakthrough and become an accomplished designated hitter. Yet, here we are addressing the reports for the month of June and seeing Posada at the head of the list with a burgeoning .382 batting average for the month. It is amazing to consider that a man approaching is 40th birthday should be coming out of a crisis of confidence, in a game that he has been playing all his life but this seems to be the case with Jorge. This is even more surprising given the amount of success Posada has had in his career. But it was evident in those early days of the month as I took my seat in the Stadium that there were all the signs of the former catcher beginning to believe he could play at his new position. That he also finished the month, amongst the Yankees’ staff, 2nd in OBP and 2nd in slugging is clear sign that this trend has continued. The question now seems to be whether he can avoid losing this re-found zest after the All-Star mid-season break.
Mark Teixeira. Teixeira is normally a slow starter to the season. The surprise is that he hasn’t broken out of that slow start except in terms of his power hitting where he is ahead of the team in homeruns. Indeed, June saw him produce a mere .213 and this aside from the 9 home runs and 4 other extra base hits (and some frankly stellar fielding plays) is all that he is producing. I know this is a relatively small complaint but at some point this year we do need him to start hitting for average along with all his other strengths.
Eduardo Nunez. My surprise here is how much the fanbase has got carried away with this guy. As I have already admitted, against my prediction, he has dramatically shot past Ramiro Pena on any basis that you would like to build a rankings system but those who are calling for him to platoon with Jeter are fooling themselves. The argument is that Jeter is not the player he was three or five years ago and therefore Jeter should be gradually winding down his career and Nunez should be being primed to take over. The problem with this is that even at his current levels, Nunez is not matching Jeter in any offensive category and in the field, he is not the player that Jeter is today, never mind what he once was.
Derek Jeter. The key sign of Jeter’s aging is not to be found in his dipping offensive figures but in his inability to bounce back from his recent injury. Many times in his career, Jeter has played through injury (perhaps unwisely). When he went down in June, he showed no inclination to do so – even with that 3000 plateau clearly within his sights. Instead, he went to the DL. I believe that the major reason for his .239 batting average in June, with only 3 walks, is not about diminishing ability but about the strain of the media attention. To some degree the Yankees have inflicted this on him artificially, because when he reaches 3000 (as he will have done by the time this article sees the light of day) he will not have broken someone’s record but actually just put himself further ahead of anyone else in Yankees’ history. I think he will, in fact, bounce back to a .280 average once the spotlight is reduced a little but the vulnerability to injuries is something that will not go away.