Let’s consider some figures:
What do they represent? Well, unsurprisingly for this column, they represent the monthly team batting averages for the New York Yankees for every month prior to August. The top one on the list is July, the bottom is April. June and May come inbetween and reveal the way that the Yankees’ batting had improved every month this season – that is until August, the month when their batting performance fell apart. Let’s see where the disaster had its roots:
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – August|
|Murphy, John Ryan||15||27||4||7||1||3||0||0||0||9||0||1||0||.259||.370||.250|
In 15 games in August, John Ryan Murphy remained a solid singles hitter and a reasonable quality defensive replacement for Brian McCann. His only deficiency is that he has no real power to speak of. McCann, the other half of this “Jack Spratt” partnership, has power to spare (11 extra base hits including a team leading 7 homers in August) but is really struggling to provide the necessary singles to augment his game. He produced only 8 one-baggers in 85 at-bats meaning that the improved batting average he was showing over last season has disappeared. This may raise questions about his future in pinstripes beyond 2015.
At first base, Mark Teixeira continued to hit them out of the park but really struggled to produce much else and then a batted ball took him out of the lineup and then onto crutches. His replacement, upcomiing prospect, Greg Bird produced a very reasonable .250 with one game giving him a memorable two home run game but without Teixeira there is little depth at first base and this is going to be an increasing problem as the season heads for October if the senior player is not available. One of the stranger moments of the month saw Garrett Jones who had been designated for assignment on the last day of July and chosen free agency, return to the club in August and then find himself designated for assignment again without ever troubling a lineup card. If the Yankees had forseen Teixeira’s problems, he might still be around!
Stephen Drew continues to improve offensively and the last days of the month saw him hitting a real purple patch which took his August average to .247 with 3 home runs. There had been some talk prior to this of Drew sharing time with Brendan Ryan but Ryan had an awful month in August producing only .114 with a sole extra base hit (a double) which is enough to put an end to that conversation for the time being.
At third, Chase Headley continues to be one of the Yankees most improved players. His monthly error count is down and offensively he produced .298 with an outstanding 11 doubles.
One of the few who is even more improved than Headley is shortstop Didi Gregorius who is now looking the real deal. Not only did August see him produce some memorable defensive plays but a .310 batting average with 6 extra base hits makes him a leading light in every way especially as so much of the offense was faltering.
In the outfield, leading the pack by a mile was Carlos Beltran, in what was a distinctly below par month for the same outfield who were hitting at every opportunity in April and May. Beltran led the team with a .353 batting average, coupled with an (also team-leading) extra base hit total of 14 and (an also team-leading) slugging percentage of .635 and an (also team leading) on-base percentage of .431. When we consider that Beltran has usually been either off-form or injured since he joined the team prior to the 2104 season, this is truly amazing. It is so far ahead of most of his team-mates performance that he now leads the whole team in batting average for the whole of 2015.
Jacoby Ellsbury was the only other outfielder to be in any way convincing as he bounced back to a respectable .252 in August. Chris Young‘s .122 and Brett Gardner‘s .208 really did sum up August for them. This wasn’t a good time. It felt like the team was carrying them rather than (the hoped for) they were carrying the team.
Dustin Ackley endured a miserable August as well but in a different way. After signing from Seattle just ahead of the trade deadline, he found himself on the disabled list after making only a couple of late innings appearances. The team hope to see him back in September.
April, May, June and July heard everyone remarking how consistent Alex Rodriguez was and how none of us expected to see him rebound so spectacularly after his season-long suspension.
In August, everyone said how he looked every minute of his forty years and even at that looked tired and laboured from four months of turns at bat, When Joe Girardi suggested that Rodriguez might be a solution to the defensive gap at first base whilst Teixeira is injured, everyone (including Brian Cashman and A-Rod himself) let out a collective wince. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. Let’s take note that he only achieved .153 in August by a slightly improved performance over the last few days and that he delivered that lowly figure with little power-hitting left in the tank.
Pitchers at bat
There was some inter-league play in August and with it came the usual novelty of seeing pitchers finding new ways to get them out at the plate. One delightful exception to this, which allows us to end this column on a brighter note, was Branden Pinder. He delivered a double in his only at-bat of the month which puts him right at the head of our table of batters. It’s enough to make you smile through these hot and weary days at the end of summer.