Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

The Yankees have won 14 of 18 since getting swept by Boston, and are hitting the midway point of the season hot with the best record in the American League. Both of these things are due in large part to some pleasant surprises in terms of production from certain players. Now is as good a time as any to dish out some props, not just for the recent winning steak, but for the first half of the season.

The Rotation

10-4, 3.25
8-6, 4.05
7-6, 3.28
7-4, 4.26
5-3, 3.10

You know the first one is Sabathia. After that, it would be tough to determine which line belongs to which starter. Considering Hughes has been out since April, Burnett was awful last year, and 3/5 of the rotation is occupied by two veterans past their prime and a rookie, lack of decipher-ability is a good thing. With this offense, you want guys who are going to give you a chance almost every time out, and for the first half of the season the Yankees have had five guys give them just that. Everything they could have asked for and then some.

The Offense

Jorge Posada's last 32 games: .326/.404/.474. That's before 2 more hits and another homer tonight.

Brett Gardner's last 58 games: .327/.415/.470.

Nick Swisher's last 27 games: .326/.452/.685 with 8 homers, 23 RBI, and 22 walks to only 15 strikeouts. That's before another hit, RBI, and walk tonight.

Most good players go through hot streaks. For Posada and Swisher, that's exactly what these are. Gardner's is far more extended (roughly 2/3 of the season to date), which makes his both more impressive and worthy of pointing out. The reason all of them are worthy of noting, however, is because of how plainly awful all three of these players were early in the season. They've all bounced back in a big way, and have made an offense that was one of the best in the game with them struggling that much more dangerous. The Yankees lineup is much deeper with the three of them playing like this, and they seem to be scoring runs more consistently as opposed to more boom and bust early in the season (no idea if this is accurate or not, just how it seems).

The Bullpen

This unit entered the season as the best in the game on paper. The best closer ever, one of the best closers in the game last year setting up, the best lefty specialist in the game, two young strikeout artists, and another lefty specialist. Injury has left them with the closer, one young strikeout artist, and one lefty specialist. Mariano continues to amaze, 21 saves with a 1.72 ERA. Boone Logan has been shaky at times, and has oddly really struggled to get lefties out on the whole despite being much better of late. With the short bullpen the Yankees will take the 3.32 ERA from him. Some unlikely sources have provided production, such as Noesi, Ayala, and Wade.

The big story here, however, is David Roberston. 1.10 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 32.1 IP(!). He has the second lowest ERA in the game of anyone with more than 20 IP, and has flatly been one of the best relievers in baseball. He has joined Mariano as the primary reasons why the Yankees bullpen has the LOWEST ERA in the American League despite all of these injuries. It really is amazing. This bullpen has been torn apart by injuries and they really haven't cost the team anything at all. Rather, they've been the strength they were projected to be on paper without a great deal of the production that existed on that paper.

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