Let me start by saying, this season has been filled with surprises and disappointments throughout. How thoroughly surprised are we all that Toe is hitting .310 (but has barely taken a walk), or that big body Luke is hitting .364 and looks like a less lean Matt Holiday? How disappointed are we all that the Yankees allowed the Sox to sweep them, especially after the all star break? How disappointed, are we in the lack of Frazier this year. I mean, we really could use the kid, Judge has been out, earlier in the year, Hicks was out and he was shelved as well. And by this, I don't mean I'm disappointed in Clint Frazier. Anyone who feels that way should let me roundhouse kick them in the head, and we'll see when their concussion symptoms go away. If you haven't felt the lingering effects of a concussion, then don't comment on the matter. Talking to you Michael Kay.
I was surprised I could swing it to make it out to old timers day this year. I was disappointed Giambi didn't hit one 650 feet. I was also disappointed in how burnt my knees got, sitting up top behind homeplate.
But we can't just talk about surprises and disappointments over a short period of time, or because of some outside factor. These need to be season long, surprise stories that just haven't let up. Or something so impactful, that it competes for the description. The disappointments need to be monumental. Not the loss of a game. Or a series. No, these need to have an effect on the entire season.
Biggest Surprise -
The biggest surprise is a tough one for me. I have 4 candidates, Andujar, Torres, Sevy, and Hicks. Aaron Hicks has been solid, which is unsurprising. He's talented, has a great eye, a little pop, and is great on defense. None of this is a surprise. What's surprising is how durable he has proven to be. He has already surpassed his most PA in a season by 80. He only played more games in 2016, where he was often used to run, or play defense. Hick's durability has been surprising, but not quite surprising enough for me to crown him.
Luis Severino's dominance this season could only be mildly surprising given his 2017 stats. 14-6, 2.98, 165 IP and 189 SO's. Coming off placing 3rd in CY voting, Severino picked up right where he left off last regular season, he put his mild post season struggles behind him and found his way onto his second consecutive all start team. Yes he struggled for a patch, but he seems to be coming back from that. When I say Severino is a surprise, I don't mean the talent, we've all seen that. But there was no hangover from last season. There was no struggle following the poor post season performance. Day 1, he got us a win, and he didn't look back for a while. Still tho, not enough to be the biggest surprise.
Miguel Andujar seems to be the everyone choice for this. It's easy to see why too. The only qualified Yankee hitting over .300, 21 HR's, 72 RBI's. Sure he doesn't walk a whole lot, but he hardly strikes out either. He has been a middle of the order bat, that we had the luxury to put at the bottom of the order for most of this season. And the kid is a big league hitter. It took him a bit to get going but he hasn't slowed down. And while the Yanks have been fighting through injury, he has just continued doing what he's doing. It's been really special to watch. But for me, this isn't the most surprising. The scouting reports all had him as a big league hitter. And I remember last year, watching him start 3-4 in his first game. I knew this kid could hit. That's why I'm saying it's not the most surprising. Because I kind of expected it. Maybe not this could, but 15-18 HR's hitting .285, is what I woulda pegged him for. Plus, his defense has been unsurprisingly bad. I won't sit here and say he can't fix it, but it's something I've already prepared myself to live with. Some guys just don't have it, and I'm afraid he might remain a pretty horrible defensive 3B. So Andujar was close, but not quite the biggest surprise for me.
Which only leaves on name. Gleyber Torres. I'm well aware that Andujar, has better stats than Torres. Torres' struggles are fresh in all of our minds. So try and remove that thought. Remember that Torres is a 21 year old kid, who got traded for Aroldis f-ing Chapman.... to the New York Yankees. Andujar grew up in the Yankees system, it was all he knew, and he's been preparing for his debut here since he played ball. Torres grew up in Chicagos system, had a great season, and was suddenly traded to the biggest franchise in sports, for the most dominant closer in the game. Talk about pressure. Couple that with the fact that he tore his UCL, and had to take a whole year off. But thats okay the Yankees let him get used to the game for a whole month in the minors, how generous of them, before calling on him. Gleyber came up. So with barely any live ball under his legs in over a year, he gets thrown on the biggest stage, to help the 11-9 Yankees win 17 of their next 18 games. He hit .333 over that span, had 3 games with 3 RBIs, and a walk off HR against Cleveland on May 6th. He one-uped himself on May 29th, making sure to do it against the defending champs in extras. 32 games into his career, he was hitting .327 with 9 HR's. I heard about this kids bat, but I was blown away by this. Meanwhile, the Yankees were 24-9 with him on the field, and had taken first place. The Yankees lost first place on July 1st, Torres hit the DL on the 4th. At the time he was hitting .294, and still mashing. He spent the next 20 days on the DL, and hasn't quite found it since. Despite his time on the DL, he is still pacing Andujar in HR's. And even though his AVG has tanked 30 points, his OBP has stayed somewhat steady. But the deciding factor for me, is his defense. He makes 2B look easy. Too easy sometimes. He is susceptible to mistakes that young players often make, but the difference between him and Andujar, is that when Andujar makes a mistake its usually his footwork, or just a lack of the defensive skills needed to make a play. When Torres makes a mistake, its a lack of focus. Torres defense is good, and it can be great. So based on the 17-1 start, the phenomenal season, the flawless return from Tommy John, and the sheer pressure he dealt with coming to New York, all while being 21 years old, Torres has been my biggest surprise.
Honorable Mention - Betances. Not for me, I know what hes capable of. I know he can still struggle. So many commenters on here were calling for his head last year. Of course you are all very quiet now. So for you guys, you must be pleasantly surprised that Dellin Betances is back to being one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. Just like we said he would be.
Biggest Disappointment -
This will be much shorter and much less sweet than the surprises. The candidates for disappointment is a not short, but with such a great season, it's tough to dwell on this stuff too much.
First, Tommy Kahnle is a guy I was hoping would be a huge piece this year. He's struggled. Badly. His velocity is down, and he spent some time on the DL. A portion of this is likely that there is an injury, but he has been mightily disappointing this year. He walked 17 batters in 62 innings last year, he has walked 12 batters in 15 innings this year. Strikes outs are down, walks are up, something aint right. Disappointing sure, but not the most.
Sanchez and Bird are in the same category for me. Guys who have spent time on the DL, and struggled. Just like the Kahnle story, its tough to be too disappointed in performance, when there is clearly something wrong. I'm hoping Bird needs time to adjust to the long season and he can figure it out with some rest. Voigt may end up the starter, so Bird may be getting plenty of rest from here on. Sanchez was on the field for a good chunk of the season and stunk. He started well defensively, but looked slow and lazy before he got on the DL. The story is that he lost 10-15 lbs while he was on the DL, so maybe he can apply that to defense. Either way his power was there, but his average was in the toilet. A healthy Gary is likely still a great power hitter, so not the worst disappointment for me. Although, honorable mention, the real reason I'm disappointed, is because when Gary hits a homerun, he always looks disgusted, like he can't believe the pitcher would throw him a pitch that he could hit to the moon. Like he's offended that a pitcher challenged him. I miss watching that.
Gray is the outlier. Hasn't dealt with injury. Started up and down, some games decent, some bad, then threw an 8.0 inning 2 hit shutout in June. Followed that up with a stinker. This whole season has been up and down. He's had some really quality outings, and made each and every one of us think, okay, here we go, he's gonna get it going now, just to break our hearts. And the thing with Gray that is so disappointing, isn't that he isn't an ace. We don't need him to be an ace, I would be fine with a 3rd or 4th starter, who puts up solid innings and has 4+ ERA. Instead he has struggled to get through the 5th, has a 5 ERA. What's most frustrating is his HR/9 is about his career average, his BB9 is up a bit, and his SO/9 is well above his career numbers. So he's just giving up hits. In a shoebox park. But they aren't flying out. This kid has the talent, and I'm hoping we can get something out of him, but I'm finally starting to give up. For me, because of all of this. Because of what I hoped for last year, and the decent performance we got out of him last year, and what I know he's capable of, and what I expected this year, Sonny Gray is the biggest disappointment bar none.
*Note: Sonny Gray and his abysmal performance still has a .550 WP. That's how good this offense is. They have protected Sonny Gray from having more losses than wins. Unbelievable.