2013 Statistics: 130 games, 458 plate appearances, .233/.282/.349, 16 2B, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 70 wRC+, -0.8 fWAR
2014 Status: One year remaining, $21 million (Yankees pay $2.4 million)
While he was originally acquired to serve as a replacement for Curtis Granderson in the outfield after Granderson's injury in spring training, as well as help the Yankees out at DH with both Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on the DL, Vernon Wells unfortunately became a consistent part of the Yankees' 2013 lineup. As the injuries mounted, Wells found himself at the plate and in the field much more than he (or the Yankees) probably expected.
Once a good hitter for the Blue Jays during the mid-2000s, Wells has seen his abilities sharply decline in recent years, and 2013 did not prove to be any exception. Still, he, like the Yankees themselves, started the year off surprisingly well, hitting .300 in April with six home runs, 13 RBI, and a .544 slugging percentage. His early success was one of the reasons the Yankees found themselves two games out of first place and seven games over .500 on May 1.
After such a surprising start, Wells came crashing back down to Earth (and then some), hitting .221/.250/.365 in May and then a dreadful .133/.143/.147 in June. Some might think that this would have led Girardi to consider benching Wells, but, honestly, there were few people that might have been better, especially considering that Melky Mesa, Brent Lillibridge, and David Adams found themselves in the Yankee lineup during the month of July.
Wells combined to hit .296/.355/.407 during July and August, although he showed little to no power, hitting only one home run and driving in just 12 runs over the course of 105 plate appearances. However, even though Wells wasn't completely awful (at least not by the standards he set earlier in the summer) during these two months, it was simply a mirage of decency that soon melted away.
When the Yankees needed him most during September, as they made their last ditch effort to snag a playoff spot, Wells completely disappeared. He hit just .160/.222/.180, with zero home runs and only seven RBI. While he had just 50 at bats in the month, as Girardi finally curbed his usage upon the return of Alex Rodriguez and the arrival of Alfonso Soriano, the fact remains: Wells was woeful.
The expectations weren't high for Wells when he arrived, but that doesn't change the fact that he was just plain bad this year. Sure, he had a few good months and certainly got off to a hot start, but he was so useless at the plate for so much of the season that there is no way to see his performance this year as anything but atrocious. Unfortunately, he'll be back again next year, and with Girardi's penchant for sticking with veterans (no matter how badly they're playing) we will probably see way more of Wells (and Ichiro Suzuki) than we would prefer. Hopefully, if Granderson returns or Shin-Soo Choo is signed, Wells, along with Ichiro, well be relegated to a rarely used platoon of bench-warming pinch hitters. That way, the Yankees can be spared another season of watching these washed up (sorry, Ichiro, but it's true) veterans flail away at the plate.
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