5 Early Yankees Disappointments Who Are About to Break out
2012 has been an up-and-down season for the New York Yankees thus far. Some players have been surprisingly hot, while some have been uncharacteristically cold. The team as a whole has gone on hot streaks and cold streaks as well, usually coinciding with the offense.
Players like Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez have been red-hot to start the 2012 campaign, and are really the only reason that the Yankees have managed a 20-15 record at this point in the season.
The heart of the order has stumbled out of the gate, as has the starting pitching staff as a whole, and when Mariano Rivera went down with a season-ending ACL injury, even the Yankees' greatest strength, their lock-down bullpen, took a major hit.
However, as of late, things have begun to turn around for a handful of key Yankees figures. If these guys can keep moving in the right direction and pick it up, then things are about to heat up in the Bronx.
C Russell Martin
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Russell Martin had a phenomenal start with the Yankees in 2011, his first year with the club. This caused expectations to be a bit higher than normal at the start of the 2012 season, but even if the Yankees' expectations of Martin weren't that high, he would still be under-performing.
Martin hit a pathetic .167 in April and after a red-hot series in Kansas City, has proceeded to go two for his last 22. However, he sought some assistance from Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, and since then his swing has seemed to be starting to come along. He hasn't had a ton of luck yet, but give him time, he'll turn it on soon.
As John Sterling might say, Russell is about to start showing the muscle.
3B Alex Rodriguez
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After undergoing a new experimental surgery, known as "Orthokine" in Germany in the offseason, A-Rod was expected to put on a laser show and start hitting home runs like he did in 2007. Well, so far, that hasn't quite happened.
Rodriguez only hit .245 with four home runs and 11 RBI in April, and although he has hit a robust .375 so far in May, he has only one additional home run to his credit.
With that being said, recently with every game you can see A-Rod locking in more and more. The home run bunch that we've been waiting for all year is rapidly approaching, and once it does, the Yankees will have a powerful weapon inserted into the 3-hole in their lineup.
RHP Phil Hughes
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The argument could be made that Yankees righty Phil Hughes has already broken out. Hughes's last two starts have made us all reminisce of his incredible first half of the 2010 season, one that earned him his first All-Star berth.
On May 6, he threw 6 2/3 innings of 3-run ball in Kansas City, striking out seven batters along the way. In his last start, on May 12, he went 7 2/3 innings and only gave up a lone run on a solo home run.
His next test will come Thursday in Toronto, where he will face a much better offensive club in the Blue Jays. If he can shut down Jose Bautista and the rest of the Jays hitters, you'll know that he is officially back on track for the first time since July of 2010.
A healthy, effective Hughes would be a valuable asset to the Yankees, especially with the inconsistency they have received thus far from their starters.
1B Mark Teixeira
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If it weren't for his RBI total, it would be safe to classify Mark Teixeira's 2012 season as "miserable." The slugging first baseman hasn't been doing a lot of slugging thus far, with only five home runs to his credit to go along with the now-usual anemic .231 batting average and an very low .282 on-base percentage.
To give you a comparison, at this point last season, Teixeira had hit eight home runs and, despite a .259 batting average, had an OBP of .375.
Now there is still hope for Teixeira in May. Last year, he managed to smack another seven bombs in the second half of the month. The real issue, however, is that batting average.
Tex's home runs are coming. His doubles are already here. It's just the fact that they are so far apart, with no singles mixed in between, that makes his numbers so hard to swallow.
Teixeira has the ability to break out at any time; he just needs to abandon his stubborn attitude towards hitting and adjust accordingly. He does that, and he'll go on a tear that only Josh Hamilton could beat.
2B Robinson Cano
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As a Yankees fan, I sometimes get frustrated when I watch Cano play. It's not because he's playing poorly, or that he isn't contributing to the team, it's just that he is so much better than how he has been performing.
Cano is currently hitting .303 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Pretty good numbers, but that's it, pretty good. Cano is an amazingly talented player, right up there with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp.
He is one of the best players in the game, with all the tools necessary to ignite a Hall of Fame career. He just hasn't put it all together yet.
The way I see it, a player of Cano's caliber should at this point be hitting at least .330 with nine homers and 25-to-30 RBI. He has the ability to put up a line of .330/40/130, clear-cut MVP numbers, while also winning a Gold Glove at second base.
We should be able to expect a run at the batting title for Cano, with perennial top-5 finishes in the MVP voting. He's getting there, but still has to take that last step from great to elite.
Recently, after a uncharacteristically slow April, Cano has begun to turn it on, logging a hit in all but two May contests. His power is starting to show as well, with four doubles and two home runs through the first 13 games in May, so Cano very well could be just entering the stretch that vaults him into super-stardom. If he is, it's going to be a fun year in New York.