Despite finishing the month with a respectable 16-10 record and turning a two game deficit in the loss column into a two game lead, June was a time of contradictions for the Yankees.
On the surface, the Yankees appear as if they had a strong start to their summer campaign, but a closer look at the schedule reveals some disappointment. Of the 26 games played in the month, 14 were against last place teams (Arizona, Baltimore, Houston and Seattle) whose combined record exiting June was 119-193. Against those teams, the Yankees went 10-4, meaning they were only .500 against better competition. What’s more, their +12 run differential for the month suggests a more modest 14-12 record in June. Considering the relative softness of the schedule, the Yankees ultimate performance in the month can be seen as an underachievement.
AL East Snapshot: June
The biggest reason for the Yankees’ disappointing June was a stark decline in offensive production. After leading the major leagues with a whopping 5.9 runs per game in May, the Yankees lineup suffered deep declines in both OBP and SLG during June. The loss of production translated into a drop of over one run per game, putting the team’s offense on par with the likes of the Astros for the month and just a tick above the American League average in OBP, SLG and R/G.
Yankees’ Monthly Offensive Production
Although a small part of the team’s June swoon with the bats can be attributed to having the pitcher bat during interleague play (Yankee hurlers tallied only two hits and two walks in 22 plate appearances), the decline in production was really the result of a more pervasive slump. With the exception of Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner, who have emerged as two of the Yankees most important offensive and defensive players, the rest of the lineup hovered around mediocrity. Of most concern is the lack of production from Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriquez, two players who suffered injuries during the month. Aside from the lack of power from both players, their respective OBPs of .337 and .308 are particularly disturbing. Even on base stalwart Nick Swisher has started to make outs at alarming rates, but the most disappointing player in that respect has been Curtis Granderson, whose OBP for the month was below .300.
Compounding the Yankees failure to reach base as often as they did early in the season has been a corresponding decline in power. With only five home runs, both Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson led the team for the month. In fact, only Cano and Gardner topped .500 in slugging percentage, making for a less than explosive attack.
The Yankees depth, or lack thereof, was also exposed in June. After starting the season with lofty offensive numbers, the clock struck midnight on Francisco Cervelli, whose youthful exuberance is suddenly not as appealing with an OPS just above .500. The likes of Kevin Russo, Ramiro Pena and Chad Huffman have also offered very little contribution from the bench. Unless Brian Cashman addresses this glaring weakness before the trade deadline, there is little reason to expect an improvement off the bench, aside from Marcus Thames’ return from the disabled list. Where have you gone Eric Hinske?
Yankees’ June Batting
While the offense has struggled, the Yankees pitching staff has helped compensate…except for AJ Burnett, of course. Excluding Burnett’s disastrous June, the Yankees pitching staff posted an ERA of 3.33, which would be good enough to lead the American League. Amazingly, Burnett gave up 27% of all earned runs yielded by the Yankees in June. Considering that the Yankees were pretty much saddled with five automatic losses in the month, maybe the team’s record really wasn’t so bad after all? Unfortunately, Burnett has not yet proven that his June disaster was only a one month event, so such an optimistic interpretation may only be wishful thinking.
Yankees’ Monthly Pitching Performance
While Burnett’s struggles have been well chronicled, Phil Hughes’ also regressed a bit in June. Even setting aside his last outing, which may have been impacted by extended rest, Hughes saw his ERA in the month climb to just a shade below 4.00. Although not exactly cause for alarm (especially because he went 4-0 during that span), the Yankees will need Hughes to maintain his early season form throughout the summer months. Otherwise, the only real cause for concern during the month stemmed from the continued inconsistency of the bullpen, and in particular the erratic outings of Joba Chamberlain. Unless Girardi can figure out how best to align his corps of relievers, Cashman may also have to dip into the trade market to supplement that group.
Yankees’ June Pitching
|Chan Ho Park||0||0||5.40||11.2||8.49||1.29||0.31||5.40||3.40|
Analyzing the Yankees can be difficult because the standards against which they are judged are lofty. Although it might sound absurd to suggest that a 16-10 month was a disappointment, for a team with 100-win expectations, such a statement is not far from reality. As the half way mark in the season fast approaches, the 2010 Yankees have still not established a true identity. At times they have been an offensive juggernaut and at others they have been a pitching powerhouse. Rarely have they been able to put both phases together, however, giving the team the appearance of struggling despite posting the league’s best record. It remains to be seen whether the Yankees can maintain their success with such inconsistency. One way or the other, we should find out in July.