In June, the New York Yankees’ bats caught fire, rising from a .249 team monthly batting average to .273. In July, against all expectations, they managed to maintain that and take it a little further with small gains in batting, slugging and on-base average.
Across the team, the bats are giving the pitchers that little extra breathing space and run support, resulting in a 17-7 month and a six-game lead in the American League East.
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – July|
|Murphy, John Ryan||7||27||5||10||5||1||0||1||2||5||0||0||0||0||.370||.519||.414|
John Ryan Murphy had his second consecutive strong month with the bat, boosting his .310 BA of June to .370 in July. He made less appearances in July but this was mainly because he was given less opportunity to come in as a late innings substitute – his number of at bats was a fraction down but only a fraction. He hit his first home run of the season and raised his season average to .284.
Meanwhile, Brian McCann struggled with the bat whilst remaining strong defensively and matching his home run total of the previous month. He didn’t draw anymore walks and his singles hitting dropped off dramatically.
By contrast, Mark Teixeira had his best period of the season in just getting on base by hook-or-by-crook and combined this with a huge 16 extra base hits which gave him the team lead in that category. He has bounced back tremendously after some lacklustre times which are now behind him.
The Yankees have continued to puzzle over what to do at second base. Prior to the All-Star break, it seemed that they had finally given up on Stephen Drew as they promoted prospect, Rob Refsnyder from Scranton and made him the starter in a few consecutive games. However, that was quickly reversed and Refsnyder was returned to the minors.
Drew had probably his best month of the season offensively but this didn’t stop the Yankees preferring Refsnyder around the All-Star break and Brendan Ryan during the last days of the month. Ryan is best able to match Drew defensively and whilst he is usually a light-hitter, he has done well since coming off the disabled list a second time. His .318 in 22 at bats is significantly stronger than Drew’s .245 in 49. Drew is more likely to contribute home runs whilst Ryan has a greater propensity for doubles and triples and is faster on the bases. With Jose Pirela seemingly out of favour and Gregorio Petit cut from the 40-man roster, I would favour Ryan but then I’m not the one making those choices – or understanding why they have persevered with Drew so long.
At shortstop, Didi Gregorius has continued to grow into the player that the Yankees hoped he could be. He raised a monthly batting average in the .250s in June to .318 in July and added in 6 extra base hits for good measure. If we add into this that he has only made one fielding error in 6 weeks, he is now firmly ensconced in that shortstop role.
Chase Headley has had an excellent month offensively in July bouncing back from a very below par June. Whilst he still has some slips in the field that .370 BA on the month will be a great confidence lift for him. The re-emergence of Ryan who can play back up at all the infield slots brought to an end a brief promotion for Cole Figueroa who played 3b on a couple of occasions when Headley was not available.
Surprisingly, while the Yankees have been on this hit-fest, the two outfielders who led the charge in earlier months have cooled considerably and for the first time both didn’t quite deliver this month. Brett Gardner who had a tremendous June (.351, 18 extra base hits) shuffled to a steady .247 with 4 extra base hits in July. Jacoby Ellsbury who had been the brightest offensive light in April and May, missed all of June because of injury. In July, he returned to the line-up but not to the form of those first two months of the 2015 season. His very slow .215 in July was illuminated slightly by the 6 extra base hits he delivered but this was still considerably below what might be expected.
Thankfully, the Yankees had continuing great form from Chris Young in rightfield to bolster production. Young is .370 against left-handers this season, compared to .190 against right-handers and so it makes sense to use him more often than Carlos Beltran against southpaws. 10 extra base hits and over .290 on the month is a significant achievement. Beltran had a slow month but improved significantly in the last week of July and so the two will continue in tandem with Beltran getting more time.
Ramon Flores was given a few at-bats this month but has now departed to Seattle just prior to the July trade deadline. Garrett Jones continued to split time between being a outfield backup and a 1b backup but this month he did both with very little offensive production – indeed to such an extent that when Dustin Ackley arrived in the Flores trade, it was Jones who was outrighted and now must consider his future.
Alex Rodriguez continues to be a tower of production in the no.3 slot in the line-up including one game where he delivered three homers in 9 innings. There were 6 more home runs on the month to tie Teixeira for the monthly lead in that category and he came in second in slugging in July. The principle difference between A-Rod and most of the team is his steady-steady consistency and even production. Even I have to grudgingly admire this amazing comeback.