Welcome to Yankees Pros and Cons, a monthly column at Pinstripe Alley!
Each month we look over the roster and point out players who either impressed or underperformed. For organizing purposes, this post will cover both March and April.
The early season threw obstacle after obstacle in the Yankees’ way, yet the team managed to run up a 17-12 record. These players represented the highs and lows of the first part of the year.
Pro: Luke Voit
Voit wasted little time in showing that last season wasn’t an anomaly. He hit the team’s first home run of the season with a three-run bomb in the first inning on Opening Day. He then went hitless against the Tigers, but rebounded nicely from there on out. As things stand, Voit owns a .275/.392/.523 batting line (146 wRC+) with eight home runs. He also has an American League Player of the Week honor to his name. The Yankees struggled to find production at first base from 2016 through the first half of 2018. Voit took the job and made it a position of strength. Brian Cashman deserves a medal for acquiring him.
Con: The Injuries
Heading into Opening Day, the Yankees already had their share of injury problems. Key players such as Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, Dellin Betances, and CC Sabathia sat on the shelf. The blows, however, refused to stop. One by one players began to fall. Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Clint Frazier all landed on the injured list at one point or another. Michael Baumann broke down the Yankees’ injury epidemic at The Ringer and found it unprecedented. Not great, folks!
Pro: The Starting Pitching
Before the season started, Kento explained that the Yankees’ rotation could, on a rate basis, prove the most effective starting staff in team history. With Severino injured, the group hasn’t received a chance to live up to that billing. It still performed at an exceptionally high level, however, pitching to an 86 ERA-.
Masahiro Tanaka came out of the gate strong, and has settled into a rock solid 80 ERA-. James Paxton had a slow start, but he dominated in his last few outings. That’s not to mention Domingo German, who has come into his own, or CC Sabathia continuing to pitch well. Even J.A. Happ has been better of late. The starters have done their job and kept the team in the standings.
Con: The Bullpen
Okay, this one comes as a surprise. We billed the Yankees as having assembled one of the best bullpens in baseball history. Naturally it owns a 4.50 ERA (4.07 FIP), with an exactly average 100 ERA-. Chad Green pitched so poorly he got demoted to Triple-A, Jonathan Holder inexplicably found himself in high leverage situations, and Aroldis Chapman hasn’t looked exactly right. Go figure.
Pro: DJ LeMahieu
When the Yankees signed LeMahieu, some fans questioned the decision to bring in the 30-year-old, myself included. He responded to the criticism by hitting like a man possessed and playing the heck out of any position assigned to him. LeMahieu sports a .310/.363/.430 batting line with a 112 wRC+. He assumed leadoff duties and made a number of stellar plays with the glove. Give LeMahieu credit. He has been a big plus for the Yankees to date.
Con: Gleyber Torres
Poor Gleyber. The 22-year-old had a rough first month of the season, batting .272/.303/.465 with five home runs (100 wRC+). His groundball percentage has skyrocketed, but his hard hit percentage went up as well.
This leads one to believe he is in need of a mechanical adjustment. Hopefully he can start to lift the ball in the air and play to his talent level.
Honorable Mention: The “B” Bombers, the replacement players who prevented the team from spiraling out of control, get a pro. They were discussed at length here.
Do you agree with this list? Have any pros and cons of your own? Let us know in the comment section!