Despite being 8 games above .500 (6 games above the Sports Illustrated preseason MLB prediction), the Yankees' season has been filled with disappointment. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I'll get down to the nitty-gritty. In this article I'll name five players who I think squarely deserve the blame for this trying season. I'll give detailed reasons for each player and as always make sure to voice your opinions in the comments.
1. CC Sabathia (2013: 28 starts, 4.91 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 14.9 HR/FB, 1.39 HR/9; all career highs)
In the preseason, many expected that CC Sabathia would step up for the Bronx Bombers once again in 2013, after carrying a heavy load for the Yankees in 2012, as well as delivering an excellent performance in Game 5 of the ALDS. However, his changeup has been awful this season (with opponents hitting to the tune of a 133 wRC+ against it) as well as his sinker (152 wRC+), fastball (131), and curveball (210). Sabathia looks more like a reliever to me as he only has one good pitch (his slider), and he has been hit hard and often this season.
All of CC's statistics point to a decline in his effectiveness. His strand rate is at a career low, as is his WAR. He is allowing more home runs than ever (amazingly, his HR/FB rate is higher than Phil Hughes'), and he has tied his career high for losses with four weeks left in the season. He has definitely not looked like the CC of old, especially in recent months, save for 5 great innings against the Rays in late August. Of course, he let up three runs in the sixth inning to earn the loss.
2. Phil Hughes (2013: 25 starts, 4.91 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 135 2/3 IP, 69.1% FB rate, .278 opponent AVG)
CC Sabathia has been horrible, but Phil Hughes has been downright shit. With a sky-high fly ball rate of almost seventy percent, many balls are bound to leave the yard. On top of this, he is averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start, taxing the bullpen and pissing off fans. Everybody knows of his struggles putting hitters away; whenever he gets to 0-2 on a hitter, he will always have a hard time finishing him off (opposing batters have a .300 OBP off of him after the count moves to 0-2), as he strikes out almost nobody. In fact, in an average Phil start (the aforementioned 5 1/3 innings), only four batters are punched out.
Amazingly, hitters slug .435 off of Hughes through 0-2 counts, more than the .429 hitters post through 3-0 counts and the .419 hitters post through 1-2 counts. He has given up 40 home runs this year, and struck out 119 through 135 2/3 innings. Simply put, he has been a nightmare for the Yankees this season, and they are more than likely to let him go and latch on to another team for 2014.
3. Travis Hafner (2013: .205 AVG, 86 wRC+, 26.6 K% (career high), -0.4 WAR)
Granted, Travis Hafner was a very low-risk signing by Brian Cashman, but the results of the Pronk experiment were disastrous. After showing some life by cranking 10 big flies in the month of April, Hafner decided to completely shut down after that, effectively shutting down the cleanup or 5th spot of the Yankee order from May through July. He hit .179 in May, .174 in June, and an anemic .143 in July. Striking out over a quarter of the time, through two-strike counts he hit a pathetic .093. Even when he was benched, he didn't help: he was 2-for-15 in pinch-hitting appearances.
For most of 2013, Hafner was the cleanup man, and he did not perform well at all.
4. Vernon Wells (2013: .290 OBP, 78 wRC+ (career low over a full season), 0.0 WAR, 6.4 BB%, 16.1 K%)
In a desperate move only a few days before Opening Day 2013, Brian Cashman snagged Wells and his beleaguered contract off of the Angels' hands. Like Hafner, he made Cashman look like a genius for the early part of the season, hitting 10 home runs in his first 194 at-bats and batting an even .300 in April. After that, the lights went out and the power outage begun. In his next 175 at-bats, he recorded 1 home run, and it was just barely over the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Furthermore, he is drawing very few walks, and his OBP is very bad.
I will give him the fact that he is batting .290 since the beginning of July, but that's it. Along with Hafner, he was one of the cogs of the heart of the Yankee lineup, and between May and July just didn't get it done.
5. Joba Chamberlain (2013: 4.23 ERA, 5.15 FIP (career high), 1.49 HR/9, 59.9 FB% (career high), -0.3 WAR (career low), 15.8 HR/FB rate)
Of all of the players I've mentioned here, Joba seems like the most obvious poor performer. A former top prospect, there are no words to describe his season. You could say it was truly pathetic, or horrendous, or awful, but nothing sums up 2013 Joba in one word. One look at his stats and you just sigh.
So what do you guys think? Tell me in the comments. Also, make sure to vote in my Blame of the Year poll, which also include honorable mentions not included in my article.