As a long-time Yankee fan, like most of the pundits, I expected the worst for the 2013 year. Many pundits predicted that the Yankees were headed to last place in the AL East. The pundits predicted the 2013 Yankees would have to depend on speed and little ball to score runs instead of the home run. This prediction was based on the opening day roster of the 2013 Yankees. On opening day, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson were all on the DL (based on 2013 combined salaries the Yankees had about $95 million dollars of talent on the DL, which is more than the entire payroll of 16 teams).These four players accounted for 19 home runs in April, 2012. They also lost through free agency Ibanez, Swisher, Chavez, Martin, and Jones. For the month of April, 2012, these five players accounted for 17 home runs. Together these 9 players accounted for 36 of the team’s 37 home runs for April, 2012. To avoid disaster it was assumed the aging pitching staff must carry the team until their stars return. So how did April turn out? For purposes of comparison, the tables below provide the hitting and pitching statistics for the Yankees for April, 2012 and April, 2013.
So what do the tables show? First, the Yankees played four more games in 2013 (26 to 22). The 2013 Yankees actually had a higher winning percentage (62% to 59%) and allowed fewer runs per game (4.23 to 4.64); whereas, the 2012 Yankees scored more runs per game (5.45 to 4.62). The 2013 Yankees had a lower ERA (4.00 to 4.33) and a slightly lower WHIP (1.34 to 1.36). The WHIP is defined to be the sum of walks plus hits divided by the total innings pitched and is now used as another important measure of the pitching performance of a pitcher or team. Clearly, the pitching has held up thanks to the April performances of Kuroda (ERA 2.25-the new ace), Pettitte (ERA 3.86) and Sabathia (ERA 3.36) and the return of the great Rivera who accounted for a perfect 10 for 10 saves. So how have the Yankees score runs? Well, they did not steal bases. In fact, they only stole 11 bases in April, 2013. This is two less than what they stole in April, 2012 and ranked them 23rd in the majors. Their 36 home runs at the end of April, tied the Yankees for second most in all of baseball just one fewer than the team hit in April, 2012.
So where is the power coming from? The Yankee GM Cashman used the strategy I mentioned in a previous posting titled “Opening Day in New York.” This strategy is to sign old veteran players to short term contracts and pray these old veterans will get a new life at Yankee Stadium. Enter Hafner, Wells, Overbay, Boesch, and Youkilis. These five players accounted for 20 home runs in April. Add to this total the seven home runs by Cano and the combined four home runs provided by their two belittled catchers (Stewart and Cervelli) and we get 31 of their 36 home runs.
Of course, these results are based on only 26 games. Cashman hopes that Hafner, Wells, Youkilis, Overbay can stay healthy and continue to produce until Jeter, Teixeira, Granderson, and Rodriguez return. If the four stars return just after the All-Star break and Wells, Youkilis, and Hafner stay healthy and the pitching continues to excel, why can’t the Yankees make the playoffs again?