At the end of May, the Yankees were tied for first place in the American League East. By the 9th of June they were 2.5 games clear at the head of that table. By the 23rd, they were 2 games behind. As June turned into July, they were poised to take the lead in the division again.
June was a mixed month for the New York Yankees. June was a very streaky month for the New York Yankees.
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – June|
|Murphy, John Ryan||12||29||2||9||2||1||0||0||1||7||0||0||0||.310||.345||.333|
John Ryan Murphy batted .150 in May. In June, he batted .310. In many ways, this mirrors the Yankees as a whole during the month. After two months of relying on pitching to get them through, the batting finally came strong but the pitching fell apart. Indeed the teams .274 average in June (against .249 in May) was declining in the last few days and could have been even higher.
Brian McCann was another who was on an upward trend on the month as the first choice catcher’s batting average showed a 30 point improvement with a very similar number of extra base hits.
Brendan Ryan finally made his season debut during June as he emerged from his time on the disabled list. Over 6 games in pinstripes, he served the Yankees at first-base, second-base, third-base and shortstop combining his usual sharp work in the field with a much more potent than usual offense – giving the team .308 with 1 triple. Sadly this flurry of activity came to a sudden conclusion with a return to the DL on the 24th of June (retroactive to the 22nd) with a strain of the right thoracic.
If Ryan could have continued in the same vein, he would have been a major asset, but there have been others in the infield who have done their job and then some. Mark Teixeira has made only two errors in the field all season and whilst his batting average on the month was no more than a slightly-more-than steady .259, he hit 11 of his 19 safe connections for extra base hits with 6 doubles and 5 homers.
In the central infield, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew had their best months of the year so far. For Gregorius this meant settling more into his role, looking more comfortable and seeming to have a greater ability at directing his hits to the fields of his choice. This meant .258 and 6 extra base hits, a noticeable improvement in all-round batting performance as well as looking at home in the field. For Drew, it simply meant his first month of the year with a batting average above .200. It will take some time for that trend to bring his yearly figures to anything like the same level but at this point the Yankees will settle for what they can get from him offensively and the fact that he led the team in home-runs in June won’t have gone unnoticed by any Yankees exec who was starting to despair.
Chase Headley was the one disappointment in the Yankees infield in June. Not only did his number of errors in the field continue to rise – now to the point that after 50% of 2015,his number of errors already exceed his total for any season in his career – but his monthly batting average fell off dramatically. In June, he had .229 with 5 extra base hits. In May, he had lit up the place with .275 with 5 doubles and 3 home runs. The signs are that those mistakes and miscues in the field are getting to his confidence and that a mid-season break, be it ever so short, will do him good.
Jose Pirela was a little badly served by the Yankees management during June. By the end of May and the beginning of June, he was on a bit of an upswing offensively after an overall disappointing second month of the season. Indeed in four appearances in the first ten days of June, he produced 3 for 7 including a particularly memorable game against the Angels. His reward for this increase in activity was to be reassigned to Scranton / Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Since his return from Triple-A on the 23rd, he has really struggled, batting .200 on the month as a total, albeit with some power.
Gregorio Petit finally returned to the Yankees on the 25th of the month after a extended stay on the disabled list for a relatively inconsequential injury was followed by a rehab assignment in Tampa. Petit has gone down the pecking order with the Yankees as far as backup infielders are concerned but with Drew on paternity leave, Ryan back on the disabled list and Pirela struggling, his time had come round again. However, with Drew gone only a few days, Petit was gone within 3 days, his only appearance of the month seeing him going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.
With Jacoby Ellsbury and his .324 batting average spending the whole of the month on the disabled list, it was time for Brett Gardner to stand up and be counted. In that regard, it was very much a month of two-halves. By mid-month, Gardner’s season batting average had slunk down to .262 and with Ellsbury gone this was really hurting the team. That was, however, when Gardner got his second wind. By the end of June, his figures on the month had shot up to .351 (27-for-57 since the Yankees returned to the Bronx to face Miami in the middle of the month). He also gave the team 18 extra base hits on the month, resulting in a team leading .622 slugging percentage.
Chris Young is another who has seen snakes and ladders in his batting fortunes recently. In May he had a terrible month, batting .132 with 3 extra base hits, just when he looked like he might have the wherewithal to challenge Carlos Beltran for an everyday outfield slot after a solid start to the season. June was, thankfully, a very different story again. He produced .309 with 7 extra base hits. By far the greatest part of his time is being spent in leftfield, effectively bringing to an end any battle between him and Beltran for the rightfield slot which is helpful because Beltran is also doing well (when fit). His 24-for-80 month will do very nicely.
Garrett Jones spent most of April playing backup infield and struggled with the bat. In May, he was principally an outfielder and his bat got hot. In June, he saw most time in the outfield but an increased amount of time at first-base subbing Teixeira. His bat cooled although his three home runs were handy. Not sure what all this means other than he is nearly as streaky as the team as a whole.
The injury to Jacoby Ellsbury meant that new faces needed to be added to the roster. First, we saw Slade Heathcott in May who did very well before heading to the DL himself. Their second May solution was Ramon Flores who arrived on the 30th of that month but struggled with the bat. Strangely, the Yankees persisted with him until the 9th of June when he finally broke out of his funk going 3-for-4 against Washington, only to find himself back on the shuttle to Scranton.
Third option was Mason Williams who arrived on the 11th only to find himself heading to the disabled list on the 21st (retroactive to the 20th). In the interim, he had batted .286 along with an impressive .571 slugging average (second on the team in slugging over the month) along with some great work in the field. It would have been interesting to see if he could have maintained the form he showed.
This meant that on the 21st, Flores needed to return, going 0-for-2 against Detroit. By the 23rd, he was back in Scranton and the Yankees were continuing with four outfielders.