July 10, 2020

Yankees At The Break: The 2010 Midseason Report Card

The All-Star break is a perfect time to take stock of the 2010 New York Yankees.  The Bombers (56-32) have the best record in baseball.  The impressive first-half is the product of a devastating and deep lineup, tremendous pitching from a stellar rotation, impressive extended performances from rookies and the bench, a first-class coaching staff and a front office that is single-minded in its pursuit of World Series championship No. 28.  Let’s take a closer look at those who have played a role in their success:

CATCHERS

Jorge Posada: The 38-year-old Posada has dealt with a variety of nagging injuries this season but his splits are all in line with their career norms.  Posada is the undisputed No. 1 option at the position and a healthy Jorge is essential to the Yankees’ success as the season rolls into the dog days of summer.  GRADE B

Francisco Cervelli: Frankie the Yankee has taken advantage of increased playing time and has put together a career season thus far.  He has a team-leading .360 average with runners in scoring position and is tied for 6th among American League catchers with 30 runs batted in.  He has more RBIs than Posada despite 19 fewer at-bats and nine fewer home runs.  If he had simply caught a great game, the Yankees and their fans would have been thrilled.  The offense and the energy is just a bonus.  GRADE B+
FIRST BASE

Mark Teixeira: Tex’s miserable season-long slump seemed to be ending in the days prior to the All-Star break.  He hit .419 in July and finished the Seattle series with three straight multi-hit games.  His .254 average masks the fact that he leads the team in home runs (17) and walks (50).  The team will rely on Teixeira to continue his trend of annual second-half surges.   He has played Gold Glove-quality defense and is the only Yankee to appear in every game this season. GRADE B up from a C+ in the last few games.

SECOND BASE

Robinson Cano:  Cano has been otherworldly this season.  He is a viable American League MVP candidate and is on pace to shatter his career bests in every major offensive category.  Cano leads the team in hits, doubles, total bases, average, slugging and OPS.  He leads major league second basemen in everything.  His range at second base continues to impress and he has made the running-towards-centerfield-across-the-body-sling his version of Jeter’s jump throw.  Although a slight July swoon cooled his scorching pace, Cano is having the best season of his young career and has established himself among baseball’s elite players.  He is tied for the 3rd best WAR in the entire sport.  Simply put, the Yankees would not be where they are without him.  GRADE A+

SHORTSTOP

Derek Jeter:  Jeter is not having his typical excellent year.  His slash lines are down across the board.  Is age finally catching up to him or is this off first half just a precursor to some late-season heroics?  He is still getting on base at a solid clip and is on pace for over 100 runs and just under 200 hits.  There are many things to worry about this season; Jeter isn’t one of them.  GRADE B

THIRD BASE

Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod’s first-half provides perhaps the biggest sigh of relief for Yankee fans.  Sure, his stats are not quite at their brilliant norms but, more importantly, Rodriguez is fully healthy.  He is putting together another 30-100-100 season and has also been as quiet as a church mouse with regard to off-field issues.   A-Rod’s 70 runs knocked are the 3rd most in baseball.  Another example of a New York star having a ‘down year’ on a team that is so much more than the sum of its stats. GRADE B+

DESIGNATED HITTER

Nick Johnson:  To be blunt, Johnson was having a terrible season in his second go-around in pinstripes before a wrist injury ended his 2010 campaign.  He was not the best designated hitter $5.5 million could buy this offseason (Vlad Guerrero and his .919 OPS make $6.5 million).  His injury may have been a blessing in disguise for the Yankees, as the vacated DH position has allowed Joe Girardi a great deal of flexibility with the lineup.  It is unlikely that Johnson plays again this season and his mutual option for 2011 will not be picked up.  GRADE F

OUTFIELD

Curtis Granderson: Although his theatrics in Boston in the season’s first game will not soon be forgotten, Granderson has only played in 63 subsequent contests due to a left groin strain.  He never got into a sustained groove this year and his numbers reflect that.  Granderson’s average against lefties hovers just over the Mendoza line.  He plays quality defense, has a team-friendly contract and is a very likeable ballplayer.  One hopes that the second half is much better for a very important part of the team.  GRADE C-

Brett Gardner: Gardner has been a revelation for a team and a fan base that expected him to be a platoon player.  The obvious: he has one fewer stolen base (25) than the entire rest of the team combined.  The not-so-obvious: he has the 6th best on-base percentage in the league.  He is 4th on the team in runs despite batting at both ends of the order.  He is a terror on the base paths and has a better UZR rating than nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter.  Did you ever think that Gardner would be on pace to finish the 2010 season with 50 steals, 100 runs, 60 RBI, a .400 on-base percentage and 10 homers? Me neither, but we’ll take it.  GRADE A-

Nick Swisher:   The first-time All-Star is having a career year across the board.  He can reach 40 doubles, 100 RBI, a .300 average and a .900 OPS for the first time in his career.  Swisher has hit well from both sides of the plate, against right-handed and left-handed pitchers, in day games and in night games, at home and on the road.  He has six assists.  Swish is another steady and reliable component of the best team in baseball.  To boot, he was acquired for Wilson Betemit.  GRADE A-

BENCH

Marcus Thames: Thames has done an excellent job for the Yankees.  He has been death on left-handed pitching (.357) and has held his own against righties.  He owns both of the Yankees’ walk-off hits this season.  Considering his role and expectations, Thames has been a positive addition.  GRADE B+

Ramiro Pena: The multi-talented Pena has appeared at four positions for the Yankees this season and could probably play four others.  He is on the roster for his glove, range and versatility.  His poor offensive numbers are bearable given his limited playing time.  GRADE C

Colin Curtis/Kevin Russo/Chad Huffman/Greg Golson: The rookies burst on the scene with a flurry of dramatic moments.  After the initial buzz wore off, they have provided versatility while learning the ropes at the major league level.  They have received nothing but positive reviews from their veteran teammates.  They will get an N/A grade and that is a good thing for the Yankees.  Having them as spot-starters, pinch-hitters and defensive replacements (or Triple-A depth) is fine for now.

Chad Moeller: The 11-year veteran had two doubles in four games in his second tour of duty with the Yankees.  He provided some insurance when Posada went down. GRADE N/A

Juan Miranda: Miranda, now 27, hit two home runs in 18 games with the team this season.  Due to roster circumstances throughout the years has not had an extended chance to prove himself at the major league level and time might be passing him by.  GRADE N/A

STARTING ROTATION

CC Sabathia: The workhorse lefty just keeps doing his thing.  Sabathia is tied for the league lead with 12 wins.  He leads the staff in innings, strikeouts and WHIP.  His ERA is a sniff above three.   Just another All-Star season for the Yankees’ ace.   GRADE A

Andy Pettitte: Retirement? No, thank you.  How about 11 wins, a staff-best 2.70 ERA, more walks (35) than earned runs (34) and an All-Star nod instead?  He is top-three in the AL in wins, winning percentage and an ERA.  The 38-year-old Pettitte has simply been incredible for the Yankees.  GRADE A

Phil Hughes: I can’t think of another 5th starter with 11 wins and nearly 100 strikeouts.  2010 has been a coming-out party for Hughes.  Save for ERA, his stats are eerily similar to Pettitte’s across the board, right down to the All-Star nod.  All of 24 years old, Hughes is slowly but surely becoming the homegrown staff ace the Yankees have long envisioned him to be.  GRADE A

Javier Vazquez: The first half of 2010 has been a tale of two ‘quarters’ for Vazquez.  He countered a disastrous April and May with a fantastic June and July.  He is definitely another guy for whom the All-Star break may have come at the wrong time.  Overall, he is 7-7 with a 4.45 ERA and has another 200-inning season in the works.  Vazquez is a league-average starter in the AL and expectations should reflect that.  The Yankees hope that his current hot streak extends well into the second half. GRADE C for inconsistency.

A.J. Burnett:  Burnett, 7-7, is another New York starter who can either throw a shutout or a clunker in any start.  He has been maddeningly inconsistent this year and his inflated numbers are more representative of the blow-up starts more than the quality ones.  Burnett has exceptional stuff and a methodical approach to each at-bat.  Fans can only hope that his recent rough stretch can be attributed to the absence of pitching coach Dave Eiland.  Either way, this is not the pitcher the Yankees are paying for nor the pitcher Burnett has proven he can be.  He knows that and hopefully can begin the second half with a vengeance.  GRADE C-

BULLPEN

Mariano Rivera:  As The Closer goes, so go the New York Yankees.  Mo has the best WHIP and 2nd-best ERA of any closer in the big leagues.  His numbers are once again microscopic.  Yada, yada, yada.  The beat goes on.  GRADE A

Joba Chamberlain:  There are two Jobas.  There is the electric Joba: 95 plus, devastating slider, gamer on the big stage.  Then there is the blah Joba: flat fastballs, inefficient command, plenty of runners on base.  I wish there were data available for these two Jobas like there are for right-handed and left-handed batting splits.   This season, Chamberlain has tended toward the latter with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.  The strikeouts (40) are there but he has also allowed more hits (42) than innings pitched (37.1).  The former Joba better be on-call because the spotlight only brightens as the calendar inches toward October.  GRADE C-

David Robertson:  Robertson has been hit-or-miss (!) this year.  He only gives up runs in bunches.  He has allowed a run in seven of his 32 appearances and five of those have been more than one run.  His strikeouts continue to pile up but so do the walks.  The following could be said for any pitcher but is particularly important for Robertson:  it all begins with fastball command.  He must improve in order to pitch significant innings for the Yankees down the stretch.  GRADE C-

Damaso Marte: Marte’s numbers are good not great.  He has nine holds but an ERA above four.  The big question remains: how well does he get lefties out?  The answer: very well.  They are batting .146 against him with three extra-base hits in 41 at-bats.  As long as Marte can continue to get lefties out, he will be an extremely important member of the Yankee bullpen.  GRADE B

Chan Ho Park: It has not been a great year for Park.  Not including one of the all-time funniest viral videos in recent memory, Park’s season has not been pleasant.  He is nowhere near the dominant reliever he was with the Phillies last season.  He has not succeeded in a set-up role or in long relief.  He has been relegated to mop-up and extra-inning scenarios.  Park does not inspire a lot of confidence right now.  GRADE D

Boone Logan: Logan, the lefty reliever acquired in the Javier Vazquez trade, has done a fine job in 25 innings for New York.  Walks have kept him from becoming a viable part of the late-inning plan but he has proven to be more valuable than just a trade fill-in.  GRADE C

Alfredo Aceves: Ace has not had the chance to continue his 2009 success this year.  He had three wins, a hold and save in 10 games this year when a serious back injury shut him down in early May.  If the Yankees can get him back this season, it could be like trading for a reliever.  GRADE N/A

Sergio Mitre: Mitre has put up a 2.88 ERA in two starts and 10 relief appearances this season.  He could play an important role if the team wants to limit innings or rest starters down the stretch.  GRADE B with hope for more.

Chad Gaudin: Gaudin has allowed a run in half of his 10 appearances.  He is not the first option out of the pen but hangs around because he can soak up multiple innings.  He will retain his role until the club decides one of the electric relievers in the minor leagues is ready.  GRADE C-

Ivan Nova/Romulo Sanchez/Dustin Mosely/Mark Melancon: This contingent has pitched in seven games and figures to be a factor after the September call-ups or as injuries dictate. GRADE N/A

THE HEAVENLY ANNOUNCERS’ BOOTH

Bob Sheppard: Thanks for decades of class, elegance, dignity and humanity.  A little bit truly does go a long way.  Requiescat in pace.  GRADE A+

Anthony Federico covers all levels of the game for Baseball Digest and Gotham Baseball. He is the author of “Must Be Nice” – a novel about the glory of beer-league softball. Check out www.mustbenicebook.com for more info or follow him on Twitter @AntFeds

Anthony Federico

Anthony Federico covers all levels of the game for Baseball Digest and Gotham Baseball. He is the author of “Must Be Nice” – a loving look at the glory of beer-league softball. Check out www.mustbenicebook.com for more info or follow him on Twitter @AntFeds

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