Friday, May 9, 2014

I've Got Til 5! - April Surprises

Last week I went over the top five disappointing players through April. CC Sabathia followed up that article with a horrible start on Sunday, Brian Roberts had a really good game Friday night and was the hero a few nights ago, Brian McCann had a good game (including a home run) Friday, Hiroki Kuroda threw a gem last night, and Ivan Nova... well Ivan won't get a chance to redeem himself for a while.

But what about those that have surprised us? I mean... what about those that have surprised us in a good way? While there aren't as many overachievers as underachievers, I was able to fill out a Top 5...

1. Masahiro Tanaka

I'm sure there were many people skeptical of Tanaka. It's hard not to be after we went through the disaster that is Kei Igawa. Although, to be fair, the Yankees did a little more homework on Tanaka than they did Igawa. And like a student that studies hard and then aces the test, the Yankees seem to have done well this time.

Last month Tanaka started five games, and won three of them while losing none. His ERA that month was 2.27, opposing hitters could only manage a batting line of .205/.245/.386, and his K/BB ratio was 46/6. I don't expect Masahiro to go 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA like he did in Japan last season, but seeing that he's only 25 years old, I think the Yankees did really well this time.

2. Mark Teixeira

Between 2010 and 2013 Teixeira hit .249/.345/.479. His 25 home runs a season were nice, but Mark was hardly the guy the Yankees thought they'd signed for $180 million. Of course, I'm leaving out his fine 2009 season, in which he hit .292/.383/.565 and helped lead the Yankees to a World Series title. But it's 2014, and we're not going to let him off the hook because of what he did nearly five years ago. 

Well, Mark is hitting pretty well so far. I'm going to cheat a little bit and use his five April games, which help bring his triple-slash to .271/.403/.542. That includes five home runs, and a walk rate that is quite a bit higher than his career average. I don't think this is going to continue, but I'd like to think his days of struggling to hit .250 are in the past.

3. Ichiro Suzuki

If you expect Ichiro to continue to hit .357/.386/.405 you're nuts. Not only is he 40 years old, but Suzuki could only manage to hit .273/.302/.368 between Seattle and New York in the previous two years. Don't get me wrong, I do believe he has value, but there's no way I would put him in the lineup over Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano on a regular basis. 

But Ichiro can still run, can still play defense (despite a couple of plays recently), so he'll make a very nice 5th outfielder. 

4. Michael Pineda

We have yet to see what Pineda can give the Yankees post-Pine Tar, but if it's anything like what we've seen so far then perhaps Yankees fans will forget the name "Jesus Montero". 

Pineda's ERA through his first four starts was a minuscule 1.83, while opposing hitters could only muster a batting line of .233/.263/.384. Should we expect a sub-2.00 ERA from here on out? No way. But assuming his use of pine tar was simply to get a better grip on the ball, and not being used to throw un-Godly breaking stuff, then it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Pineda as one of the starters on the postseason roster.

By the way, like Tanaka, Michael is only 25 years old. You gotta like what the future could hold for Yankees pitchers.

5. Yangervis Solarte

While those other four guys are surely a surprise, those stories are nothing compared to the emergence of Never Nervous Yangervis. Solarte was an afterthought at best, but he went on to hit .303 /.404/.461 in April, and help a poor Yankee infield. 

For those that believe he's going to fall off a cliff, I'd like to point out that Solarte has 7 hits in 22 May at bats (including 2 walks and 2 sacrifice flies). I'm still skeptical of his future, but he wouldn't be the first MLB player to come out of nowhere and be a solid MLB player.

And isn't it nice how he's helped us all forget about that one guy? You know... the guy who makes way too much money for what he contributes nowadays? Alex something-or-other? 


  1. If Never Nervous Yangervis can keep it up he is indeed a find! I have seen a little adjustment in his approach at the plate. He was letting the breaking ball get him when it was down and away, he is letting it go and if it is up he will take a good cut at it.
    As far as him being a better filler for our ex-3rd baseman than what what we had...only in money terms! We will not get 30 HRs and .298/.300 years out of him as we had before...and doubtful he will do that again at his age!But, we could end up with a line-drive hitter that will give us some clutch hits and about a .290/.300....that ain't bad in my book!
    My and most fans question will be, can he keep up the changes as the year goes on. If one goes by his stats...yes he can! June/July will bring us the story and answer

    1. Did you mean A Rod would hit around .290 or Solarte? I don't see either coming close to that but Solarte would do it way before A Rod in my opinion, and I love A Rod

    2. Solarte could end up around the .290 mark, if not this year next year. Let's see how he is at the June/July turning point...he may be hitting .200 by then, who knows?!?


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