Midseason Report Cards.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The season is just over halfway over, and the All Star break hit next week. Here are my midseason report cards.

Overall, I give the team a B. They are on pace for about 86 wins, which is the high end of what was expected. A 21-9 start gives them an A for that time period, but 23-30 since gives them a D. Injuries have hurt. But their record right now, 44-39 and in a wild card spot, is better than what was expected. Many people were predicting this team to be the first Yankees team since 1992 to finish below .500. Maybe they still do that. But as of now, the youth movement is progressing faster than expected, and they are in a playoff position. So a B.

Catcher.

Sanchez A-. He missed a few weeks with an injury, but still is at .289-13-40, OPS+ 132 (32% above league average). On pace for 25 HR and 80 RBI, maybe more if you factor in those weeks he was on the DL. .290-25-80 is very good. I’d give him an A, but for the defense. Too many passed balls, maybe attributable to the injuries.

Romine B-. He doesn’t hit much, but filled in nicely when Sanchez was hurt. Typical backup catcher.

Higashioka F. Up briefly, is 0 for 18 in his MLB career.

Infield and DH:

Bird F. Hit .455 in spring training, fouled a ball off his ankle, went 6 for 60. .100. Still having problems with his ankle and may need exploratory surgery to see what’s going on. Torn shoulder labrum cost him 2016, this is costing him 2017. A newer version of Nick Johnson? So much talent, but so many injuries?

Carter F. How else to grade someone DFA’d, brought back due to necessity, and DFA’d again a couple of weeks later? Two strikeouts for every hit. You know you are bad when you have people, non-homer hitters, like Romine and Wade, pinch-hitting for you at the end of games despite you leading the NL in HR last year. This position is killing the Yanks this year. Not only was his bat bad, but his defense was just as bad.

Holliday A. Was on a 30 HR 100 RBI pace before getting the Epstein-Barr virus (which took forever to diagnose) and going on the DL. A leader. Even played 1B though wasn’t expected to, and did so without complaining.

Castro A. .313 and on pace for 25 HR and 90 RBI before going on the DL.

Gregorius. A. Hitting .300 with power. Has successfully replaced a legend in Jeter. On pace for .300, 20 HR, 80 RBI.

Headley C. Yanks could use an upgrade here. Andujar, a 3B, came up for one game, DH’d, had 3 hits, 4 RBI and Yankees sent him back down. Maybe Andujar should get more of a look? Gleyber Torres was being groomed for here but suffered a season-ending injury. Mediocre at .251, lost his power (only 4 HR). OPS+ 87 is 13% below league average. A power position, and Yanks are not getting any.

Torreyes B. Along with Castro and Gregorius, could walk more, but has filled in nicely. Exposed when playing everyday, but that is the case with all backups.

Refsnyder F. 5 for 37 is .135. You wonder if he has run out of chances and if he is trade bait and if the Yanks should cut the cord with him, especially with other prospects passing him.

Kozma F. There early in the season for his glove, can’t hit. Made key errors, released.

Wade, Choi, Austin,  Andujar X. Incomplete. Not enough time to evaluate.

Outfield:

Gardner B. Surprising power, but leadoff hitter has to hit better than .259.

Ellsbury C. Way too much $ for the so-so production. Hicks had basically taken his job. $23MM for a fourth OF. Yanks would love to dump his salary, but a no-trade and who’d take him? Yanks would have to eat lots of $ here. OPS+ just 88, 12% below average.

Judge A+. Yes, there are a lot of strikeouts. But he leads in AL and/or MLB in 9 categories: HR, RBI, walks, Runs, Total Bases, OBP, SA, OPS, OPS+ (195, 95% above league average). A must-see at bat. The talk of baseball. Tied Joe D’s Yankee HR rookie record in 1/2 a season. On pace for 55 HR. Fine baserunner, good defense. MVP. ROY. Carrying the team.

Hicks A. Surprising after the disaster he was last year. Basically took Ellsbury’s job before getting hurt. Hitting near .300, was on a 20 HR, 80 RBI pace. Injuries have hurt this team, esp. with Holliday, Castro, Hicks all on the DL at the same time.

Williams C. Kid isn’t bad, but doesn’t get enough playing time. DFA’d, sent down to AAA. You feel he is lost in the shuffle, and could be trade bait or will be passed by other prospects soon. Has done better than Refsnyder, but could be in the same boat Refsnyder is in.

Frazier, Fowler X: Not enough playing time to evaluate.

Pitchers

Severino B+. Has developed into the staff ace, esp. with Tanaka’s struggles. Expected it to happen last year, he needed more time. Still developing. 3.52 ERA and 130 ERA+ suggests his record should be better than 5-4.

Pineda B. Started out great, but has become the inconsistent Pineda we know lately. 8-4, but 4.39 ERA is only a tick above league average.

Sabathia B. Doing better than we expected, but has to be perfect now. Can’t get away with pitches.Yanks missed him when he went on the DL.

Cessa D. Replaced Sabathia in the rotation when CC went on the DL, and 0-3, 4.57 (one good long relief outing). He and Bryan Mitchell better look over their shoulders. Although James Kaprielian is out for the season, others, like Chance Adams (who probably should have been brought up instead of Cessa but for 40 man roster problems) , Caleb Smith, Zack Littell and Justus Sheffield (now on the DL) are coming up.

Montgomery B. If not for Judge, Montgomery would be getting ROY consideration. A surprise. He and Severino, the kids, have the two best ERA’s in the rotation as of this writing.

Tanaka D. I was tempted to give him an F. The supposed ace has been the worst starter in the rotation. The Yanks need him to be the old, reliable Tanaka in the second half.

Chapman. B-. Injured, and even at that, hasn’t been dominant. 3.86 ERA. You wonder if Chapman was right about Maddon’s usage of him in last year’s postseason.

Betances B. Started out fabulous, but recently can’t throw strikes. The problem of holding runners on still persists.

Clippard D. Started out great and like Betances, ran into troubles. So many of the Yanks’ losses during the past few weeks have been by one run and can be laid at the feet of Clippard, Betances, even Chapman. He, Betances and Shreve need to cut down on the walks, though.

Green A. 2.03 ERA. If a starter goes down, and the Yanks don’t want to “baptize” Adams, Littell, or Caleb Smith yet, maybe the Yanks should turn to Green instead of Cessa or Mitchell. He’s been good out the the long man role so far.

Warren A. 2.10 ERA and Yanks have really missed him while he was on the DL. It seemed to affect the rest of the bullpen, esp. with the struggles of Clippard and Betances lately.

Holder B. Did ok, but now back at SWB.

Shreve A. 2.63 ERA isn’t bad, and has been a far better lefty out of the bullpen than…

Layne F. 7.62 ERA earned a trip to SWB.

Mitchell D. On the SWB shuffle, and a 5.06 ERA. I see him falling on the depth chart as pitchers like Adams, Littell, Smith, Sheffield and Kaprielian (if he ever gets healthy) pass him.

Gallegos F. You hope the kid develops, but so far a 7.15 ERA. 11 K in 11 1/3 IP, so potential is there…

German B. I like what I’ve seen from him so far. 11 K in 10 2/3 IP, 3.38 ERA. Cut down on the walks (7).

Webb, Herrera, Heller: X. Incomplete. Not enough to grade on. Webb is intriguing as another lefty. Herrera lost one game out in Anaheim, but has been doing well in the minors.

Really wondering when Chance Adams gets put on the 40-man. The RHP, 23 in August, is 10-2, 1.85 between AA/AAA this year, and for his minor league career is 26-4, 2.09. He was 13-1, 2.33 last year between High A and AA.

Once the rosters expand, it could help the Yanks from Labor Day on. There is depth in the minors, and hopefully that depth pays off during the last few weeks of the season when the Yanks will be making a playoff push.

Oh yeah….

Girardi C. I really wish he’d burn the binder and go by his gut. Doesn’t play little ball and bunt, esp. the suicide squeeze, and esp. when you can squeeze with guys like Torreyes and Gardner up there. Goes by the book with the bullpen too much. If a guy is doing well, leave him in! Some moves for moves sake drive me nuts. Don’t just pull a guy to go to your designated 8th inning guy, etc. The Yanks are 44-39, which is seven games worse than their expected record based on runs scored vs. runs allowed so far. Seven games. There have been a lot of one-run losses. Some of that falls on Girardi as well as the players. Just a few of those one-run losses, turned the other way, and the Yanks could be in first place.

Cashman. A. Convinced ownership last year to sell and go with a youth movement. Take a look at some of the prospects developing right now. Take a look at the records of SWB and Trenton right now. We’ll see, with the trade deadline approaching, if Cashman makes any moves and keeps his grade. If there is anything I fault him for, it’s sticking with Carter too long.

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