The Yankees seemed rather to take their eye off the ball, metaphorically speaking, in September. They finished the month with a 15-12 record which was enough to seal their wildcard spot and even to give them home-field advantage in the forthcoming playoffs, but along the way the management made some peculiar and bewildering decisions in terms of who was on the field of play. Let’s look in this first article at the batters who exploded and those who really struggled.
The Yankees form had taken a dip by the time the season reached August and the dog days. From a .281 batting average (BA) in the month of July, they fell to a team .240 in the eighth month and a 17-13 win/loss record. Part of this was due to under-performance (let’s all say Greg Bird together and shake our heads sadly). Part of this was due to injury (Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, although whether in Sanchez’s case that’s a blessing or a curse remains to be seen) but mostly it is down to over-performers coming down to earth. However, that tandem of wonder-rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are still playing everyday and still showing great ability (at least offensively). Read on…
The Yankees weren’t great in July but they weren’t that bad either. They won exactly three-fifths (15-10) of their games. They suffered a fall of form from lead pitcher Luis Severino and most of the bullpen which meant the batters needed to turn it up a notch. Let’s see who did:
The Yankees were great in May and they managed to continue that excellent trend in June – so important because Boston are showing no signs of slowing down. The Yankees are going to need to keep winning if they are going to finish ahead in this two-horse race. In June, they won exactly two thirds of their games. Let’s see who amongst the batters was lifting the most weight:
(Normally I would have far more coverage of Spring Training than I have this year but with Easter coming early, my other preoccupations have prevented that. My apologies to my regular readers).
If you would have asked me at the end of the 2017 which position the Yankees would sign someone new for in the off-season, my prediction would not have been rightfield. Rookie of the year, Aaron Judge, it seemed had that all stitched up.
Also, if you’d asked me who after Judge was the least likely player to leave, one of my first choices would have been 2b Starlin Castro who impressed so much at the plate and defensively and proved a fearsome double play combination with Didi Gregorius.
Aaron Judge was hot and untouchable in the first half of the season. Now either the opposition pitchers have caught up to him or something else is wrong. Fortunately, Gary Sanchez who was very much in his shadow before the All-Star break, has exploded offensively in the last month. The Yankees are clearly concerned about some defensive kinks he has behind the plate but it is thanks to him and guys like Didi Gregorius that the Yankees’ ship is still afloat and in a promising position to take the first wildcard spot -although they are looking increasingly less likely to catch Boston for the division lead.
The Yankees got off to a strong start in April – stronger than most had anticipated. They tussled for the lead in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles.
In May, even more surprisingly, they maintained that trajectory whilst Baltimore faded slightly and the Boston Red Sox came into the picture. But by the end of the month, there was a couple of games clear lead that the Yankees had carved out ahead of their two rivals. Impressive.