When you look back at all the fancy moves the Yankees made in the offseason and the results they have gotten so far, it seems nothing short of a miracle that the Yankees are above .500. Let's do a quick rundown of what their top acquisitions have done thus far through the 2014 season:
- Masahiro Tanaka has been amazing and wonderful and deserves every superlative you can throw at him.
- Brian McCann has been one of the worst offensive starting catchers in the majors.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has cratered to a 91 wRC+ for the season.
- Carlos Beltran didn't hit well and fielded even worse, and is now broken.
- Matt Thornton has pitched to an ERA over five.
So the team is batting about .200 right now with their shopping spree. That's not to say things will stay this way, but considering the contributions that were expected from these players you would have assumed this season would have been a disaster thus far. Yet here we are, reaching the near end of May and the Yankees are right near the top of the AL East. So let us be thankful that a couple of much less heralded players have been able to pick up the slack for the bigger names.
Obviously we need to start with Yangervis Solarte. If this season results in anything positive, Solarte will be its lasting symbol. So much has already been said about his meteoric rise from obscurity, so it is difficult to add a new perspective. But lets settle for this thought: with his ability to get on base and propensity for doubles, he's become the hitter I'm most confident in at the dish. And I doubt I'm the only one with that sentiment.
Pitching-wise, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances have been nothing short of amazing. Betances gets the style points with his absurd number of strikeouts, but Warren has been able to keep up with a 1.6 ERA of his own. With Shawn Kelley dealing with injuries and Thornton's ineffectiveness, these two youngsters have gone above and beyond what we could have expected. They've shouldered the load with aplomb.
With the starting rotation in tatters, Chase Whitley's nine innings of solid pitching have been depressingly necessary. A team would much rather write off two good performances from an unheralded rookie as a luxury, but considering how ineffective/hurt the veterans have been he's been one of the few starters keeping opposing offenses at bay. It seems a lot to ask, but Chase really needs to keep it up. If anything, he probably needs to be better for longer.
Lastly, credit to Brett Gardner, probably the most unheralded good player the Yankees have had in recent memory. The lukewarm reception his smart and prudent extension got is evidence of just how underappreciated his value has been. But now that he's clearly been the Yankees' best player in 2014, maybe that time has come to an end. He's on pace for nearly 6.0 fWAR and has been everything you would've hoped Ellsbury would be. Thanks for being so awesome, Brett.
Ideally, these unheralded Yankees will be joined by their more recognized teammates in putting in excellent performances. Of course, who knows what new things will go wrong when McCann and crew start turning things around. But for now, let's appreciate the more unheralded Yankees who have kept the team from tumbling into the abyss.