April 2015 was a bizarre month for the New York Yankees. They started with a 3-6 record and were bottom of the table. From there, they sprinted to 10 wins out of their next thirteen games, ending April one game ahead of the American League East and setting a pace which meant they should then relentlessly open up a gap ahead of all-comers.
And indeed, by the 11 of May with 8 wins out of their next 11 games, they opened up a 4 game lead. Journalists, experts and pundits were staggered as the Yankees’ bullpen and offense led them to performances that were far beyond anything that was predicted or anticipated — or even imagined by the most rabid fan.
And then the team returned quietly to the form of the early weeks of April as they crumbled against opposition from outside the division. The four game lead disappeared as they won 5 of their next 18 games. Will the real New York Yankees please stand up?
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – May|
|Murphy, John Ryan||10||20||1||3||2||0||1||0||0||6||1||1||0||.150||.250||.143|
The Yankees have stuck with the two catchers who broke camp with them, with no injuries but with some admitted questions marks.
Brian McCann batted only .244 on the month but began to really warm up his power stroke towards the end of May with home runs coming on consecutive days.
On the other hand, John Ryan Murphy needs to look to his laurels after a month where he showed only .150 with an unexpected triple and left his batting looking weak at best. Both players look strong defensively but here as elsewhere the team will look for increased offensive production in June if they are to stay in contention.
Mark Teixeira‘s .258 with 10 extra base hits made him one of three Yankees with a slugging percentage over .500. His 13 singles are an important sign that as often, his batting swing is warming up as the weather does and he has lost none of the power he has exhibited since opening day. And unlike recent seasons, there have been no significant injury concerns.
Second baseman, Stephen Drew, however, is another story. It seemed unlikely that his batting performance could get any worse than it was in April but he has achieved just that. The power he exhibited in April with a clutch of home runs has all but disappeared, leaving him with a slugging performance of just .220 and his lack of patience at the plate leaves his OBP at .188. He is, by far, the Yankees best option defensively in the middle infield positions but this is his only asset and by the end of the month, Girardi had begun to bench him and slot Jose Pirela into the line-up.
The logic must be that Pirela is suffering from not being in the line-up everyday because he is not Drew’s equal in the field and his batting figures are acres behind what they were at Triple-A Scranton on his rehab assignment. Indeed, it must be noted that if Drew does not walk often then Pirela does not walk at all. He has only one double to boost his .222 batting average and little else to recommend him for more frequent appearances.
Didi Gregorius has shown a little more power in May than he did in April. He collected his first home run in pinstripes and the second came along shortly afterwards. He is still not showing great production at the plate and his defense is still a work in progress but there is no reason the Yankees should be giving up on this project.
Gregorio Petit went to the disabled list with a bruise to his right-hand when Jose Pirela became available, . There have been a suspicious lack of updates since then and there may be a suggestion that the Yankees are not too concerned about when or if he returns after his lacklustre start to the season.
Third baseman Chase Headley had a great month with his bat, achieving .275 with 8 extra base hits but made a considerable number of fielding errors and is, at the moment, on target for the worst defensive season of his career. Regardless, the Yankees have stood Alex Rodriguez down from any expectation of being backup at the hot corner with Joe Girardi saying publicly that he regards Drew as second choice third-base despite very minimal experience at that position and unfathomable reasons why they would want to put him in the line up anymore than they already do.
Garrett Jones has seen a change in his role between April and May. April saw him most commonly appear at first-base. May has seen him switch to mostly being a right-fielder. His batting performance is hugely improved in a month that saw him collect his first homer as a Yankee.
In April, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner led the Yankees in every sense and they were responsible for the offensive part of why the Yankees topped the division. In May, Jacoby headed for the DL with a right knee sprain which is likely to keep him out a while yet. Meanwhile, Gardner slowed down, managing only .252 on the month, albeit with 11 extra base hits which put him amongst the team leaders in that category. Ellsbury, on the other hand, had been batting .328 in May prior to his time on the disabled list and has been sorely missed.
Carlos Beltran, another with 11 extra base hits, has been massively improved and has effectively settled the argument about who should be in the right-field spot in the line-up as his upsurge coincided with Chris Young‘s bat going to sleep. Young’s .132 has been more reminiscent of his time with the cross-town Mets than it was with his time with the Yankees in September last and just a few weeks ago in April. Meanwhile, Beltran who looked for a long time in April as though he would never hit another home run and was pressing horribly, has found them much easier to come by in May with 4 to add to his collection.
The injury to Ellsbury made an opening for Slade Heathcott to be promoted from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders and to show his stuff in the big leagues for the first time. In his first 6 games, he hit .353 and added a double and a home-run. Unfortunately, he was all-too-soon to follow his teammate to the DL with a strain of the right quadriceps. His replacement is another rookie, Ramon Flores who appeared in the last two games of the month.
The only Yankees designated hitter of any significance was once again Alex Rodriguez. His remarkable renaissance continues and I must reluctantly commend him for the application he has shown, especially when ESPN and others were trying to stir up the matter of his disputed bonus into an all-out war with the club. On the month, A-Rod led the team in extra base hits and hits and is high in almost every other “positive” category. Not bad for someone who the team doubted could contribute anything this season. I don’t like it but if the Yankees are stuck with him then better this way than just as some highly paid bench-rider.