New York Yankees: Batters’ Midseason Grades

July 15, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

The Yankees stumbled into the All-Star break by dropping three straight games at Anaheim and are now 2-12 against the Angels and Red Sox, two teams New York will need to beat this October if it wants to capture a 27th World Series title.

But the Bombers still have the third best record in baseball at 51-37, lead the wild card by 2.5 games, and are just three behind Boston for the AL East lead.

So who is making the grade and who could use some extra help after class as we enter the dog days of summer?

Here is the complete Yankees Batters’ Midseason Report Card from the head of the class to the dunce. The pitchers’ grades will follow.


Mark Teixeira, 1B (A)

Despite a dismal April in which he hit just .200 with three homers and 10 RBI, Teixeira is New York’s MVP at the midway point thanks to his team-leading 21 jacks and 63 runs batted in. He really turned things around when A-Rod returned to give him some protection in the order.

But the All-Star might be even more valuable for his defense. He’s tied with Paul Konerko and Justin Morneau for the best fielding percentage among AL first baseman and the Yankee has only made one error. But what really tells the story are his teammates’ stats.  Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano are on pace for career lows in errors because their wild throws to first are often picked out of the dirt by Teixeira.


Derek Jeter, SS (A)

The captain is leading the team and fourth in the league with a .321 batting average.  That mark is tops among American League shortstops, as is his .396 on base percentage, .461 slugging, .857 OPS, and 110 hits. He’s second at his position with 56 runs, 17 steals, 18 doubles, 10 homers and 40 walks. Jeter is also hitting an astounding .449 against lefties and continues to be clutch with a .367 batting average with men in scoring position and two outs.

Finally, the 10-time All-Star is on pace for the best defensive year of his career, with just four errors at the break. It certainly helps to have a capable man to throw the ball to at first base for the first time in eight years.


Johnny Damon, LF (A-)

Damon has experienced quite the power surge at the new Yankee Stadium. He’s already clubbed 16 round trippers, which puts him on pace to eclipse his career high of 24 set in 2006. Damon’s 50 runs batted in at the break also could result in a lifetime best. And he’s stolen eight bases without being caught once.  Damon’s defense does leave something to be desired, though. He’s last among qualifying left fielders in fielding percentage and range factor.


Robinson Cano, 2B (A-)

Cano has been a statistical oddity this year, hitting .353 with the bases empty but just .259 with runners on and only .211 with runners in scoring position. He recently broke an 0-22 slump with RISP and I expect the second baseman to improve his numbers in clutch situations during the second half. He hit .286 in those spots over the previous three seasons, and he’s still hitting .352 in late and close situations this year. Overall, Cano is batting .308 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs.


Alex Rodriguez, 3B (B+)

When A-Rod returned from his hip injury May 8, it added two sluggers to the middle of the Yankee lineup. Not only did Rodriguez provide his own offense, but he also made Mark Teixeira a whole lot better. A-Rod started slow, hitting just .207 in his first six weeks, but after Joe Girardi gave him a couple days off, he raised his average to .256 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs in just 58 games.


Jorge Posada, C (B)

Posada missed three weeks in May with an injury but still has 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 57 games. He’s thrown out 30 percent of potential base stealers, which is a big improvement on the 17 percent he gunned down in 2008, when he injured his shoulder.


Melky Cabrera, CF (B)

Cabrera should be considered for AL Comeback Player of the Year. After a dismal 2008, during which he went .249/8/37, the outfielder has rebounded for .285/8/34 through just 82 games this season. And Melky has been awfully clutch, tallying multiple walk-off hits.


Brett Gardner, CF (B)

Gardner could be on his way to capturing the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year. He leads all rookies with 36 runs, five triples, 18 steals and 20 walks. The outfielder also has the highest average (.282) among all rookies with at least 68 at bats.  He’s also third in hits (53), fourth in RBIs (19) and fifth in homers (3). The Yankees have themselves a leadoff hitter for many years to come.


Nick Swisher, RF (B-)

Swisher was only supposed to be a pinch hitter when he was acquired this past winter, but with the loss of Xavier Nady, Swish was vaulted into a starting roll and he’s done a pretty good job. He’s hitting just .237, but he leads the team with 53 walks and has chipped in 14 homers and 47 RBIs.


Hideki Matsui, DH (B-)

Some wanted Godzilla traded or released when he was hitting .248 with 10 homers and 28 RBIs at the end of June, but over his last 10 games, Matsui is batting .393 with four jacks and 12 runs batted in.


Francisco Cervelli, C (C+)

The 23-year-old did an admiral job filling in for both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina. He went .269/1/9 in 25 games and threw out an impressive 10 of 21 potential base stealers. A lot of Yankee fans were upset when Molina returned from the disabled list to replace Cervelli, but it was the right move. If Cervelli is the team’s catcher of the future, he needs to play every day and his .284 on base percentage is downright atrocious.


Ramiro Pena, 3B (C+)

Pena was another solid call-up. He hit .267 with seven RBIs in 86 at bats while filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez and Cody Ransom. Pena also had a .963 fielding percentage, which left many to wonder why he was sent down to make room for Cody Ransom, who has a .923 fielding percentage and a .176 batting average.


Eric Hinske, RF (INC)

Hinske has only played four games with the Yankees since being acquired from Pittsburgh, but he’s already made quite an impact, homering three times in just 12 at bats.  His versatility in the field should get him a lot more starts against righties in the second half.


Jose Molina, C (INC)

Molina recently returned from a two-month stint on the DL. He’s hitting .271 with a home run and six RBI in 48 at bats.


Xavier Nady, RF (INC)

Nady played just seven games in April before being placed on the disabled list. He had the second Tommy John surgery of his career on July 8, likely ending his short Yankee career.  What a shame for a guy who went .305/25/97 in 2008.


Kevin Cash, C (INC)

Cash started the year as the Yankees’ fourth catcher but was called up when Jorge Posada and Jose Molina went down with injuries.  He was 6-for-26 with three RBI.


Angel Berroa, 3B (INC)

Berroa was called up when Ransom was hurt, but he wasn’t any better. The third baseman was 3-for-22 with a single run batted in.


Cody Ransom, 3B (F)

Ransom’s job was to hold down the fort at third base for five weeks until A-Rod returned, but he was injured himself on April 24 and didn’t return for two months. The Yanks didn’t miss him, though, as he’s hit just .176 with no homers and 10 RBIs. Ransom also made four errors in just 16 starts at the hot corner.


Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison.

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees Community Leader. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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