At the end of the 2013 New York Yankees season, let's take time to reflect on the good and the bad of the 2013 season. This year produced an almost comical amount of injuries to go along with inconsistent performances all around, yet the Yankees still had a pretty solid season, finishing 8 games above .500 and 6 games out of the second Wild Card spot. They were eliminated five days before the season ended.
I'll get to the big awards first and then the smaller ones. All stats are from FanGraphs.
2013 MVP - Robinson Cano (.314, 27 HR, 107 RBI, .899 OPS, 145 OPS+, 190 H, 6.1 WAR)
This is the biggest award but the easiest one to pick. The one constant force in the Yankees' lineup all year, Cano provided great production from the heart of the order. His steady, effortless defense at second base also helped the team. Amazingly, he only missed two games in a season where everybody from Alex Rodriguez to Luis Cruz suffered an injury. Finishing the season with 190 hits, he's easily the team MVP for 2013.
Most Impressive Stat: Cano batted .491 in 65 plate appearances in high-leverage situations this season.
Most Disturbing Stat: Cano smacked 21 dingers in the first half of the season, but hit only 6 in the second half. However, his RBI production remained relatively stable.
Honorable Mention: Mariano Rivera
2013 Starting Pitcher of the Year - Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.10 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 7.49 K/9, 0.58 HR/9, 2.5 WAR)
This was a close call between Nova and Hiroki Kuroda, but ultimately I decided to give the award to Ivan because of his consistency spanning every month of the season besides April. Nova pitched to a team-best 3.39 ERA during that timeframe. During a midsummer in which the Yankees had very little offense, Nova stepped up and twirled many a gem as he pitched to a great 2.78 ERA in the second half of the season. He also pitched three complete games, two of them shutouts, and held opponents to a .257 average against over the course of the year.
Most Impressive Stat: Nova was lights-out in July, pitching to a WHIP of 0.97 in that month.
Most Disturbing Stat: Nova seemed to fade in September, posting season highs in xFIP and HR/9 and season lows in K/9 and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Honorable Mention: Hiroki Kuroda
2013 Relief Pitcher of the Year - Mariano Rivera (6-2, 2.11 ERA, 44 SV, 7.59 K/9, 87.3 LOB%, 1.5 WAR)
In his well-documented final season in pinstripes, Mariano pitched as well as he always has, racking up 30 saves for the 15th time in his career. He finished with 44, an incredible total for the oldest player in the Major Leagues. Aside from a one-week stretch in which he blew three saves, Mo was as consistent as ever, stranding 87.3% of runners and piecing together an awesome 2.11 ERA. He's been a pleasure to watch.
Most Impressive Stat: His 2.11 ERA at the age of 43 is truly amazing.
Most Disturbing Stat: None.
Honorable Mention: David Robertson.
Most Pleasant Surprise of 2013 - Alfonso Soriano (.255, 34 HR, 101 RBI, 148 H, .850 OPS w/NYY, 2.8 WAR)
A few days before the July 31 trade deadline amid an unusually weak trade market, the Yankees made their first and only splash by acquiring former Yankee Alfonso Soriano, bringing him back to the Bronx for the first time since 2003. They locked him up for 2014 as well, but in the 58 games he played for New York, he was an invaluable asset to the lineup, vaulting the Yankees into postseason contention. Seemingly reenergized for playing with a good team instead of a terrible one, Soriano had a monster second half, hitting 18 home runs in 63 games.
Most Impressive Stat: Soriano absolutely mashed the baseball to the tune of a 222 wRC+ after three-ball counts.
Most Disturbing Stat: Alfonso only batted .224 during low-leverage situations. I guess he doesn't want to be the one starting the rally.
Honorable Mention: Lyle Overbay.
Now for the BAD Awards (STOP reading here if you don't want to relive the horrendous parts of this season):
2013 LVP (Least Valuable Player) - CC Sabathia (4.78 ERA, 1.19 HR/9, 13.0 HR/FB, 2.7 WAR) (all career worsts)
CC Sabathia was arguably the biggest letdown of the 2013 season. Even though Phil Hughes sucked even worse than Sabathia, he wasn't supposed to pitch like an ace and CC was. Pegged by Sports Illustrated before the season as carrying a "heavy load," he took it and dropped it onto his feet. To put it simply, CC sucked for most of the season, setting career worsts in a lot of things. His 67.4% strand rate is 3% lower than any rate he had posted before save for 2003, and his well-documented velocity decline didn't help. His only effective pitch this season was his slider, and it's unacceptable for a starting pitcher to only have one good pitch. His 14-13 record shows what could have been.
Most Impressive Stat: CC still came up with a 2.7 WAR despite his nightmare season.
Most Disturbing Stat: CC's batting average against was nearly 50 points higher in high-leverage situations than in low-leverage situations. Also, opponents batted .371 against him on full counts.
Honorable Mentions: Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.
2013 Worst Starting Pitcher of the Year - Phil Hughes (4-14, 5.19 ERA, 1.48 HR/9, 30.8 GB%, 1.3 WAR)
A perfect example of a hyped top prospect that came crashing down, Hughes posted terrible numbers in a contract year this season. It's a miracle he even managed to earn four wins, as he consistently sucked the whole year. As we all know, Phil struggled mightily putting hitters away and keeping the ball in the ballpark. His ERA was a horrific 5.99 in months not named July (when it was 3.86).
Most Impressive Stat: The four wins.
Most Disturbing Stat: When the count got to 0-2, hitters reached base off of Hughes 29.5% of the time.
Honorable Mention: CC Sabathia
Some interesting nuggets pertaining to the 2013 season:
1. Despite all the hate surrounding Ichiro Suzuki and his two-year contract, he finished third in WAR among Yankees who played at least 70 games. His strikeout percentage of 11.4% was best on the team.
2. Alex Rodriguez finished the season with a WAR of 0.5, equivalent to Chris Stewart.
3. Brett Gardner led the way in BABIP with a .342 mark. Robinson Cano came in second, putting up a nice .327. David Adams' .255 mark suggests that his .194 batting average could be higher next season.
4. Reid Brignac hit to the tune of a -38 wRC+ over 45 plate appearances. He had just 5 hits.
5. Robinson Cano drove in 5 more runs than Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano combined.
6. The only replacement player to consistently perform at replacement-player level (0.0 WAR) was Lyle Overbay.
8. Mark Teixeira actually had 63 plate appearances this season. It felt like 30.
9. Brendan Ryan performed at an almost-identical level to Luis Cruz, the only major difference being Ryan's wRC+ advantage (48 to 13).
10. Lyle Overbay ranked third on the team in home runs with 14.
MORE AWARDS COMING SOON!