August was not a great hitting month for most Yankees. Only one player hit over .300 for the month. Marcus Thames went a bit crazy with some rare regular playing time, batting .344 with seven home runs, but he only got in 61 at-bats. Nick Swisher (.296/.356/.491), Robinson Cano (.292/.385/.491), and Mark Teixeira (.289/.355/.629 with nine homers) had the biggest full-time months, and Jorge Posada did some very typical .259/.368/.481 swinging, which you will take from any backstop not named Mauer.
The other side of the ledger was pretty much dominated by Derek Jeter. As I tweeted earlier today, Jeter hit .239/.318/.333 in August, .253/.328/.346 since hot April (109 games). He finished the month by going 5-for-37 in his last ten games, including a current 0-for-11, or 2-for-30. I’ve written enough about Jeter’s struggles this year that I’m not going to ring that bell again, but the reality remains that he is now a lock to have his worst season (if he hit .405 in September, he’d finish with a .292 average, 22 points below his career mark). He’s hitting more grounders than ever, has been as impatient as he’s ever been. The Yankees have little choice but to re-sign him, but watching Jeter struggle towards 3,000 hits would be more depressing than celebratory.
Other Yankees who tried on their Halloween masks two months early included Brett Gardner (though, as I suggested yesterday, Gardner salvaged things with his high OBP), the third base subs for A-Rod—Ramiro Pena hit .250/.262/.300 and Eduardo Nunez grounded into three double plays in nine chances, Austin Kearns, Francisco Cervelli, and Lance Berkman. As Cliff discussed earlier this week, Curtis Granderson’s rejiggered swing hasn’t yet resulted in a real hot streak. We’ll give A-Rod, who hit .226 but homered about once every 10 at-bats, an incomplete.
On the pitching side, the bullpen was the highlight of the month. You know the good and bad of the rotation (mostly bad). The more of the season goes by, the more this team reminds me of Joe Torre’s 2000 Yankees, a team that won the 2000 World Series, but was probably one of the weakest championship teams both in franchise and baseball history. Offensively, the ten-years-later version has a lot more going for it, but the starting pitching may actually be thinner. Postseason teams have good bullpens, which means that if you get taken out of a game early, your offense is a whole lot less likely to come back than it would be against the Orioles’ pen.