Friday, June 23, 2017

So it Seems We Need a Little More Positive Thinking Here

In a world full of Tyler Clippard’s that “suck” and Chase Headley’s and Chris Carter’s who couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat what the New York Yankees need is a little more positive thinking. The team is still far ahead of schedule as far as development and their rebuild goes and the team still has a legitimate shot at not only winning the American League East Division race but also making a bit of noise in the postseason. Sure, the Yankees had a seven game losing streak but no team in baseball has ever gone 162-0 and even the mighty, mighty 1998 Yankees struggled towards the end of the season keeping them from 116 wins or more in a season. So let’s start this Friday off with some positivity for once, dammit, and showcase some of these Yankees players that are far exceeding their expectations and players that definitely don’t “suck.”

Matt Holliday has far exceeded any expectations that I or most have presumably had for him. Holliday, 37-years old, has seemingly flourished in the designated hitter role for the Yankees while he has also been invaluable with his off-the-field work as well. It was well documented this offseason that Holliday spent extensive time with fellow outfielder Aaron Judge which may or may not have led to his monster breakout season. It sure didn’t hurt anyway. Through Holliday’s first 63 games this season the right-hander has batted .269 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI, which is basically what all the projections at ESPN, Baseball Reference and comparable sites had him doing all season long. Holliday has been great, the time off his feet in the field has been great for him and he is a huge part of the obvious and apparent team chemistry you see on the field with this team.

Speaking of Aaron Judge I don’t think anyone could make a post like this one this morning without mentioning the Yankees right fielder. Judge has been so great this season that Major League Baseball may see just the third instance in their history of a player winning both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same season. Judge was deemed a 25 home run guy with 200+ strikeouts and a low batting average type guy heading into the season and at the time of this writing Judge has already reached 24 home runs this season with a batting average well over the .300 mark. We aren’t even at the All-Star Break yet. By the way, the last player to win the ROY Award and the MVP Award in the same season was some guy named Ichiro back in 2001.

While we are on the subject of Aaron’s let’s switch over to the man that had a legitimate shot of sending Aaron Judge to the bench to start the season if he had a strong spring, Aaron Hicks. Hicks is probably the biggest secret weapon for the Yankees this season and may still somehow be the most underappreciated player on the roster as well. Through 54 games this season Hicks is hovering around the .300 mark with ten home runs and 35 RBI leading many to write his name in for All-Star Game consideration. Where would the Yankees be with Jacoby Ellsbury once again injured if it weren’t for Hicks? Where would the Yankees be even with Ellsbury in the lineup if it weren’t for Hicks? I have a sneaking suspicion that the team wouldn’t be as good as they are now, regardless, without Hicks in the lineup three-to-four days a week. Hicks has just been that good.

The Yankees acquired Starlin Castro before the 2016 season for relatively very little in terms of prospects because of declining stats and playing time in Chicago yet the new second baseman and former Chicago Cubs player has flourished here in the Bronx. Castro is usually a quick starter anyway but as we head towards July baseball here in the Bronx the Yankees second baseman does not seem to be slowing down, if anything he is getting stronger. Through Castro’s first 67 games this season the righty has amassed a .324 average with 12 home runs and 43 RBI. If the game were simple and you simply multiply those numbers by 2.5 you would see Castro reaching career highs in almost every offensive category across the board. Of course you can’t do that but it’s nice to think about 30 home runs out of him and 110 RBI at the end of the season. Castro is still just 27-years old too so the future looks bright for him as he enters his prime.

The final player we will showcase is one that I predicted to have a “contract year” for the Yankees, Michael Pineda. Pineda will be a free agent at the end of the season and like many free agents to be the Yankees right-hander seems to finally be putting it all together. Let me reiterate, finally. Pineda has still had his normal bumps in the road along the way but the right-hander has put together seven victories already while giving the Yankees the solid #2 starter that they thought they were acquiring in that 2012 blockbuster involving Jesus Montero with the Seattle Mariners. Next season we may be talking about Luis Severino, another player who has far exceeded expectations to many but not to me because I never gave up on him, solidifying that #2 slot but for now that position belongs to Big Mike.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)