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 came up short.
June proved a wild month for the Yankees, as the team dropped seven of their first 12 games on the month. Everyone thought the wheels came off an over-performing club. Then the Bombers rattled off 13 wins in their next 14 games, established a commanding lead in the AL East, and fielded an unstoppable lineup capable of bludgeoning opposing pitchers into submission. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?
Pro: DJ LeMahieu
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many more times over the rest of the season, but I’ve never whiffed on a player evaluation as badly as I did on LeMahieu. He’s been a force in the Yankees’ lineup all year long, but his June was otherworldly good. Consider where he ranks in some of these categories among all qualified batters:
Batting average: .395 (second)
On-base percentage: .434 (ninth)
Slugging percentage: .658 (ninth)
wRC+: 189 (fouth)
WAR: 1.9 (second)
He’s been a top-10 player in all of baseball in June. Even more impressive, he went on an absolute tear over the last week of the month, so much so that it caught national attention.
On June 22, DJ LeMahieu was hitting .316/.365/.467.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 1, 2019
In the six games since, he is 18 for 28 with three HR, 13 RBI and a .643/.666/1.214 slash.
His season line today: .345/.392/.534 -- almost 100 OPS points higher. And he is perhaps right behind Mike Trout in the AL MVP race.
LeMahieu has been ridiculous in the best possible way.
Con: Jonathan Holder
Holder flamed out spectacularly in June, pitching himself off the 25-man roster along the way. The right-hander logged a 14.63 ERA on the month, and his peripherals weren’t much better. He sported an 11.57 FIP, a 50% hard-contact rate, and a 6.75 HR/9. Holder had several rough outings on the month, but the worst came on June 24 against the Blue Jays. Tasked with maintaining an eight-run lead, he allowed five runs to score and made it a save situation. That implosion earned him a ticket to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Pro: The Edwin Encarnacion trade
The Yankees jumpstarted the trade market on June 15 when the club acquired Encarnacion from the Mariners. Brian Cashman nabbed the American League leader in home runs for the cost of a 19-year-old pitching prospect, Juan Then. Importing one of the league’s top power threats to a team that also features Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and a healthy Giancarlo Stanton? Good luck navigating through that lineup.
Con: Edwin Encarnacion
On the subject of Encarnacion, he hasn’t hit all that much since joining the Yankees. In 50 plate appearances, he has a .140/.260/.395 batting line with three home runs. His 72 wRC+ in pinstripes is decidedly below average. Encarnacion’s track record precedes him; he’s an imposing force at the plate. He just has yet to put it all together in pinstripes.
Pro: Cameron Maybin
When the Yankees picked up Maybin off the scrap heap, many expected a warm body who would hold a roster spot until the injured Bombers returned. Instead, they got high-level production from the 32-year-old. While he performed well since donning the pinstripes, he went to another level in June. The outfielder hit .386/.426/.727 with four home runs over 47 plate appearances. Maybin’s 202 wRC+ on the month meant that he basically hit like 1928 Babe Ruth for 14 games. He played so well that the Yankees had to keep him, even in the face of a roster crunch.
Con: Even more injuries
Unfortunately Maybin’s successful June got cut short by a calf injury. The Yankees just couldn’t escape the injury bug this month. Giancarlo Stanton returned from a long layoff before promptly landing on the injured list with a PCL sprain. Luis Severino and Dellin Betances also got shut down in their throwing programs. The month finished off with Luke Voit exiting the London Series with a core muscle issue. Get well soon everyone.
Pro: Chad Green
Ever since returning from his pitstop at Triple-A Scranton, Green has become quite the effective pitcher. He has taken to the role of the opener, but has been great whenever called upon. The right-hander owned a 0.69 ERA (0.35 FIP) on the month, with a 13.85 K/9 rate. He also didn’t allow a home run, something that troubled him earlier in the season. Getting a dominant Green back has been huge for the bullpen.
Con: Zack Britton
On the flip side, did you notice how bad Britton was in June? The left-hander pitched to a 3.60 ERA with a 7.40 FIP across 10 innings pitched. He had an abysmal 1.80 K/9 and a 9.00 BB/9. He didn’t miss bats and he put way too many runners on the basepaths. The only thing he had working for him was a 87.1% groundball rate. Without that, he would have been completely ineffective. That’s worrisome for a high-leverage reliever.