At this point, I'm contractually obligated to mention something about Mariano Rivera. Instead of rehashing the same statistics mentioned elsewhere, here's some that are a little more arcane:
- Rivera only committed six errors in his career, and they all came in the 2001-04 seasons. He made his last error on August 1, 2004.
- Rivera only made 13 wild pitches in his career, about one every 100 innings. That's about half a season's worth for A.J. Burnett.
- Do you ever remember Rivera being called for a balk? I sure don't. That's probably because he balked for the third, and last, time in 2002.
If you told me last October that Chris Stewart, Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner, David Adams and Austin Romine would make half of the Yankees' plate appearances in 2014, there is no way I would have believed you. But it happened.
The Yankees only had two players hit more than 14 home runs this season - Robinson Cano and a guy who only spent one-third of the season on the roster (Alfonso Soriano). Aside from Cano, no one managed to drive in 60 runs. Cano and Brett Gardner led the team with 81 runs scored, while Ichiro was next with just 57. I could go on like this all night - they finished twelfth in team batting average and on-base percentage and fourteenth in slugging percentage, doubles and home runs. With those gory results in mind, I think I have to call their tenth-place showing in runs scored "surprising." Perhaps worse is that we didn't suffer through that anemic performance in the name of letting some kids play every day. Per baseball-reference, their average batter age of 31.8 is the team's oldest since 2005, and fourth oldest in team history. The average pitcher age was also 31.8, and the team's oldest since 2006 (ninth oldest in team history). Now I'm depressed. Can we talk about some good teams?
Even though the current Yankees will be watching the playoffs at home, there's no shortage of former Yankees still playing. Except in Boston. Unless I missed someone, I think Alfredo Aceves is the only former Yankee who played for them at all this year, and he will not be on the playoff roster.
Oakland has Bartolo Colon, who was their best pitcher this year. In 30 starts and 190 innings, he won 18 games (all of which are his best totals since 2005), and posted a career-best 2.65 ERA.
In Detroit, Austin Jackson hit .272/.337/.417 (102 OPS+) with pretty good defense in center field. Phil Coke had a rough season, going 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA (78 ERA+). Jose Veras was solid after a late-July trade from Houston. Although he was 0-5 in 62.2 innings this year, he put up a 3.02 ERA (137 ERA+), with 8.6 K/9.
Cleveland has Nick Swisher, who primarily played first base this year, and hit .246/.341/.423 (117 OPS+), with 22 home runs and 63 RBI. There's also Jason Giambi, who, a couple of walk-off home runs aside, looks done. He hit .183/.282/.371 in 216 plate appearances this year. In fact, in just over 1000 plate appearances since leaving the Yankees, Giambi has hit just .217/.343/.408 (the last two seasons, he's hit just .196/.313/.349). On the mound, there's Zach McAllister, who never pitched for the Yankees after they made him their third round choice in the 2006 draft, but made it to Triple-A before being traded for Austin Kearns. McAllister was 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 134.1 innings. Clay Rapada made four cameo appearances, throwing two scoreless innings.
Tampa Bay has Jose Molina behind the plate. While I'm well aware of the fact that he played for the Yankees, I'd forgotten that he was with the team for almost two and half years; it didn't seem nearly that long. Shelley Duncan chipped in a couple of home runs in 64 plate appearances, but spent most of the year struggling in Triple-A, with a .669 OPS. Freddy Guzman, who appeared in 10 games in 2009 (and a single ALCS game against the Angels), had a single appearance as a pinch runner, stealing a base and scoring a run. On the mound, Kyle Farnsworth put up a 5.76 ERA in 39 appearances before the Rays cut him in August, his best arson work since leaving the Yankees.
In the National League, the Cardinals have Jake Westbrook, who went 7-9 with a 4.63 ERA and 79 ERA+ (althogh there's some doubt about his place on the postseason roster), and Randy Choate (2-1, 2.29 ERA, 162 ERA+ in 64 appearances).
Pittsburgh had four former Yankees play big roles in their first winning season since 1992. After outbidding the Yankees for Russell Martin last winter (I can't believe I just wrote that), he gave them league-average offense from the catcher position, which is pretty good. Martin hit .226/.327/.377 (100 OPS+) with 15 home runs, which is almost exactly what he did in his two seasons in New York (.224/.317/.405). Former highly-regarded Yankee prospect Jose Tabata hit .282/.342/.429, his best offensive performance to date. A.J. Burnett made 30 starts, and in 191 innings went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA (107 ERA+) and 9.8 K/9. Mark Melancon recovered from last year's nightmare in Boston to go 3-2 with 16 saves and a 1.39 ERA (254 ERA+) in 71 innings. Kyle Farnsworth was solid in nine appearances after his afore-mentioned release from Tampa Bay. Remember Jose Contreras? He made five relief appearances for them back in May.
The Braves have two former Yankees on the roster - Freddy Garcia (who put up a 1.65 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances after coming over from Baltimore) andLuis Ayala (who put up a 2.90 ERA in 37 appearances after also coming over from Baltimore). Ramiro Pena played pretty well at second base, third base and shortstop before a shoulder injury ended his season in June. He was hitting .278/.330/.443 (109 OPS+).
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers have manager Don Mattingly and Jerry Hairston. Hairston put up a .539 OPS in 204 plate appearances this year, which is terrible no matter how extremely pitcher friendly all the ballparks in your division are. Remember Ted Lilly? It's been 11 long years since the Yankees sent him to Detroit for Jeff Weaver. He made five starts for the Dodgers and did his best Phil Hughes immitation, putting up a 5.05 ERA while failing to complete six innings in any of those starts.