The first month of the Yankees season is over and the team stands 18-10. Things started out slowly, but they really managed to turn things on during what turned out to be a nine-game winning streak. It’s hard to believe that it’s only May 1, especially considering we have already been through so much in such a small amount of time. Before we look forward to the rest of the season, let’s look back on the biggest surprises of the first month.
Didi Gregorius is the Best Shortstop on the Planet
Ok, we knew Didi was good, but did anyone see him being this good? At the rate he’s going, Gregorius is already in the lead for the AL MVP. He leads all of baseball in WAR (2.3), wRC+ (197), slugging percentage (.735), RBI (30), and home runs (10). He’s been better than the likes of Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Addison Russell, and Corey Seager so far this season. Given his play in the field and his improvement in plate discipline, it’s clear that he should be considered the best shortstop on the planet right now.
Whether he keeps this up or not has yet to be seen, but he deserves credit for everything he has done to help the Yankees get out of their early season funk. For the record, he’s only projected to be a league average hitter for the rest of the season, so I guess we’ll see if this is just a hot streak or the start of a performance that defies all projections.
Sonny Gray is Actually Bad Now
This time two years ago, Sonny Gray was an elite young starter on his way to a Cy Young award or two. Then a season filled with injury sunk his value in 2016, and he’s seemingly never been the same. He rebounded a bit in 2017, but the Athletics seemed to be spooked about his longterm sustainability, so they traded him a few years early and got what they could. It was believed that if the Yankees fixed whatever was wrong with Gray, they would have an ace on the cheap. Unfortunately, things are even worse in 2018.
Through six starts, Gray has a 6.67 ERA over 27 innings and couldn’t seem to make it out of the fifth until last night. There’s nothing obviously wrong with him, but it’s clear that something has been out of whack. Whether he is hurt, or simply off mechanically, or what has yet to be determined, but it’s certainly a surprise to see how far he has fallen so quickly. Hopefully this is just a blip on the radar and last night’s performance will launch him into a revival, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.
Miguel Andujar is the Third Baseman of the Future
Practically having his spot on the roster ripped from him by the arrival of Brandon Drury, Anujar made it to the majors anyway. Now he’s hitting .289/.302/.566 with three home runs in 21 games, and the hope is he won’t be giving up his roster spot without a fight. After following him through the minors for years, it’s hard to see how he has managed to adapt so quickly. For a long time he was just a name on a box score, and now he’s the talk of the Bronx.
It’s hard to say for sure where his talent really lies. Has he actually become a .300 hitter after spending years off the prospect radar? The true test will come when pitchers start to approach him differently. Eventually there will be enough data to determine where he struggles, and he will be attacked. That is when we find out who he really is, and if he adapts well, Andujar could be a fixture on the team for years.
Those were just three of the biggest surprises this team has seen so far. What else has been a surprise? Let us know in the comments.