What do you guys think?
Perhaps it’s the bright lights of the Big Apple, or maybe it’s the enchanted water of the Hudson River. For all we know, it could be the past Yankee legends giving the team a helping hand, like in Angels in the Outfield, or the chanting from the “Bleacher Creatures” out in the right-center field stands, providing inspiration for the Yanks. Whatever the case may be, the Yankees, who lost 4/5 of their Opening Day starting pitchers to the DL and were under .500 as recently as July 2, are still alive in the playoff hunt, trailing Toronto by half a game for the second Wild Card spot as of August 7. How have they actually done it? Let’s find out.
1. Tanaka Time — For $155 million over seven years, the Yankees landed what they projected to be a “strong number two starter.” Little did they know that Tanaka, former ace of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, would serve as the team’s savior prior to the All-Star break, as he went on to post a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA before landing on the DL with a potentially season-ending injury to his UCL. Rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, which definitely would have ended his season, he opted to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection and has been feeling better, according to recent reports. If healthy, Tanaka would certainly help the Yankees in September when they make their postseason push.
2. A Pinstriped Pen of Steel — Shawn Kelley has a .203 BAA and Adam Warren has allowed only one more hit (53) than strikeout (52) in his 56.1 innings pitched. Follow those two up with the 6’8″ 260 pound behemoth known as Dellin Betances, whose strikeout total matches his average fastball velocity of 100, and a closer who has converted 30/32 save opportunities in David Robertson, and there’s no question that the Yankee bullpen has been stronger than ever, even after its loss of the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.
3. Hi, My Name is… — Brian Cashman deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the acquisitions of Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, Chase Headley, and Martin Prado from teams in the NL West this season, though he probably did not envision them having the type of immediate impact they’ve had the past couple of weeks. McCarthy is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA since donning the pinstripes, relying on his effective cutter to induce outs. Capuano has not yet won a game in a Yankee uniform, but in his three starts in New York, he has posted a 2.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19 innings. Pretty good stuff for a guy who was acquired from the Rockies solely for cash considerations. On the offensive side of the ball, Chase Headley made an immediate impact on the team when he sent Yankee fans home with a win on July 21 over the Rangers with a 14th-inning walk-off single at midnight. In his 15 games as a Yankee, he has posted a .263/.323/.744 slash line and has solidified the third-base position with superb defense plays, such as this one here. Martin Prado was picked up from the Diamondbacks for catching prospect Peter O’Brien, and his versatility in the field has allowed the Yankees to play him in right and at third to cover for Headley on his off-days. An eight-year veteran, Prado has brought leadership and a strong knowledge of the game to the Bronx Bombers.
If the Yankees can continue to produce the way they have the past couple of weeks, a playoff spot could be the cards for the unconventional Bomber squad. Though the odds would be stacked against them making it far into the playoffs, especially given the dominant rotations of the A’s and Tigers (who they just took three of four from in their most recent series), as they say in New York, “Hey, you never know.”
I went onto MLB.com and stumbled upon the GIBBYs (Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards) which allow the fans to vote each year for the players and plays that they thought were the best at their respective categories. I ended up voting and figured I’d share those votes with you. Let’s begin, shall we?
Player of the Year- Matt Kemp
If this was the MVP, my vote would have probably changed to Ryan Braun (MIL,OF). However, I felt that Kemp was a worthy recipient of my vote, being as this award is based purely off stats and also because in 2011, Kemp recorded a 39-40 HR/steal season, one home run away from the exclusive 40-40 club.
Starting Pitcher of the Year- Justin Verlander
This one was pretty much a no brainer in my mind, as without Verlander, its very likely that the Tigers don’t even make it into the playoffs. His 24-5 record and dominant season is reminiscent to that of Pedro Martinez in 2001 and when you throw a no-hitter in there, he is untouchable.
Rookie of the Year- Craig Kimbrel
When a player has 46 saves in a season, you know he is an amazing player. But when that player is a rookie, that takes that accomplishment to a whole new level, and that is exactly what Kimbrel did last year. He set a new rookie saves record and posted an otherworldly 14.84 K/9 ratio last year.
Closer of the Year- Mariano Rivera
This one was, at the outset, a tough decision. You have a guy like Jose Valverde, who goes 49-49 in save opportunities, leads his club into the ALCS, and becomes the Tigers all-time single season saves leader, and then you have Mariano. The same Mariano who had 44 saves and a 1.91 ERA this past season. The same Mariano who recorded his 600 and record-breaking 602 saves. And the same Mariano who, at age 41, continued his dominance over MLB hitters for an astounding 14 years straight. That’s my vote for Closer of the Year.
Setup Man of the Year- Jonny Venters
Another close race, but I feel that Venters deserves my vote. Kimbrel and he were the anchors of the Braves bullpen, and without Venters’ solid season, the Braves wouldn’t have fared as well as they ended up: 1 game away from a Wild Card berth. His 35 holds were 2nd in the NL and he still has many more great years to come, as this was only his 2nd Major League season.
Defensive Player of the Year- Asdrubal Cabrera
If you have turned on Sports Center this year, even once, I can guarantee you that you’ve seen at least one of Asdrubal’s amazing plays this year. He induced 78 double plays this year and his finesse and grace when handling the ball is unmatchable.
Breakout Player of the Year- Ryan Vogelsong
This was probably the hardest pick of them all, as how do you choose between a pitcher who went from 9-10 to 21-4 (Ian Kennedy) and one that came from Japan to become a Major League All-Star? I ended up going with Vogelsong, as I felt that his contributions to the Giants this year should not be overlooked, and becoming a MLB All Star after having to readjust to a whole new life in the US from Japan is pretty phenomenal.
Comeback Player of the Year- Jacoby Ellsbury
Yes, its a Red Sox player, but Jacoby was worthy of my vote. He rebounded from a season in which he played only 18 games to post a .321-32 HR-39 steal campaign in addition to providing spectacular defense in center for the Sox, allowing no errors all year. Quite the comeback if you ask me.
Wow Factor of the Year- Robinson Cano
Robby has truly evolved into a different animal from the days in which people considered him to be lazy and to not have a passion for the game of baseball. His strong work ethic has pushed him into a force to be reckoned with on the field each night, and with his amazing glove work, hitting ability, and determination, he certainly “wows” me when he plays the game.
Manager of the Year- Joe Maddon
If this award included the postseason, I would have went with Tony La Russa for his amazing strategizing and spectacular ways of overcoming the odds against strongholds such as the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers. However, being as this award is only applicable towards the regular season, one would have to give it to Joe Maddon for sticking with his players and making the best with what he had. The Rays comeback from nine games back made history, and he totally deserves this award.
Executive of the Year- Jon Daniels
Daniels made key deals and trades to contribute to the formation of the 2011 Rangers, including signing Adrian Beltre, dealing Frank Francisco for Mike Napoli, and acquiring Mike Adams and Koji Uehara at the Trade Deadline to bolster the Texas bullpen. These moves, especially the bolstering of a weak bullpen and not dealing Michael Young, helped the Rangers get to the World Series for the second consecutive year and gave Jon Daniels my vote for Executive of the Year.
Postseason MVP- David Freese
All of the nominees for this award put together strong cases, however, how could I not have voted the NLCS and WS MVP David Freese? His game-tying two-run triple and walk-off home run against the Rangers in Game 6 were historic, and his 21 RBI’s set a new postseason record and led the Cardinals to their eleventh World Series title.
And with that, my votes are in! Did I get them all right?
We’ll just have to wait and see…
I think we need to take these out…
Why??? Well, because the Yankees and Rays swept both their series and are now 3-0 since the All-Star break! Go 3 and 0! Hah, hah, hah. Much of this success can be contributed to the fact that our pitchingis doing spectacular and that our hitters are coming up clutch in key situations.
My man Longoria has been doing alot better since the break and I’m glad. His shot in the 1st game the Rays played since the 2nd half began put them ahead 8-7 and they were able to hold on to the lead with great pitching from J.P. Howell at the end of the game.
This series Howell has been especially lights-out as he has recorded saves in all 3 games and using his dominant stuff to overpower the Royals hitters. He is a talented pitcher that knows how to manipulate his stuff at the right time and place. Will he ever be as good as The Sandman? Nobody will, but in the meantime he can keep on doing what he’s doing and keep on securing the win for us in the 9th inning.
The Rays definitely win the comeback kids award as in each of their games in this series they have came back in the 7th inning or later to get the lead and the win. Talk about fighting till the end!
Hey, this is a Yankee and Rays blog right? So I gotta give a little love to the boys in the big white and blue, the New York Yankees!
How about Teixeira this past series man? He was on fire! 2 homers, 5 hits, 4 R.B.I.’s, so this is why we signed this guy for 180 million dollars this past off-season. He could really put on a show once he gets rolling.
I don’t think the Tigers were prepared for this fiersome beast that they had to face.
You’d better watch out Red Sox Nation.
We’re Catching Up.