According to the preseason odds set in Vegas, nothing much was expected of the Yankees in 2015. Yet as the season's final month approaches, they lead the vaunted AL East and are a virtual cinch to claim a spot in the playoffs after a two-year drought. If their success comes as a surprise, it's because they've gotten significant production from players that weren't expected to play such a big role. Here are some of the more surprising contributors:
It may seem ridiculous to say that a player making more than $23 million is having a surprisingly productive season, but that's absolutely the case for Tex. In the context of his recent career history he's in the midst of a comeback for the ages. During two injury plagued and ineffective seasons he combined for a .209/.308/.391 slash line with 25 home runs and 74 RBIs. He's already surpassed each of those marks in 2015 and will likely get some MVP consideration.
Everything said about Teixeira could be said about A-Rod but to a larger degree. Bigger contract, more injury problems, throw in the disgrace of a season-long suspension due to steroid use and all signs pointed to this season being a disaster for Rodriguez. However, at age 40, he's finally realized that he should just let his bat do the talking. Without his name penciled in the lineup each day the Yankees would probably be on the outside looking in to the playoff picture.
The surprise here is that he still has the everyday job at second base, and that the team has been successful despite this fact. Teflon Drew has been comfortably below the Mendoza Line for his entire Yankee career and has played a very ordinary second base. Thanks to his 15 home runs he's managed to produce at exactly replacement level despite seemingly better options lurking in the farm system. He must truly be magic in the clubhouse.
Miller was signed to essentially replace David Robertson in the bullpen. However, Joe Girardi's plan before the season was two split the closer role between him and Dellin Betances. Most fans and experts assumed this was manager speak and that Betances would get the job outright early in the season. Surprisingly enough, it was Miller who got the job and rightfully so. His peripherals have been every bit as good as the dominant Betances and he's proven to be more adept at handling the 9th inning. In 28 opportunities Miller has saved 27 games whereas Betances saved only 7 of his 10 chances during Miller's DL stint.
As part of the seemingly underwhelming haul for former top prospect Manny Banuelos, Shreve has actually become a real asset for the Yankees. Early on the young lefty hurler established himself as a key link between the starting rotation and the big guns in the bullpen. That role will only become more important as we head into the world of short playoff series' and over-managed games. He'll be under team control for a few more years so if he stays effective he could even find himself in a closer role down the road. One never knows with fickle relief arms though.
Which Yankee do you think has been the biggest surprise this year? Let us know in the poll below.