5 Players the New York Yankees Need for a Deep Postseason Run
The New York Yankees are expected to win the World Series every year. Anything short of that is considered failure in New York.
It has been a long three years since they clinched their last World Series title. The Boss is gone, and New Yorkers, along with the Steinbrenner brothers, are hungry for another win.
Joe Girardi has the squad capable of winning it all. Before these last few series, the Yankees were expected to cruise into the playoffs. While they have dwindled their lead in the AL East to 3.5 games, I still expect to see them in the playoffs.
The Yankees will need to rely on a few of their old and new players to get the results they want. They need the whole team to perform this postseason if they want to be crowned the best in baseball.
However, I expect their postseason success will hinge on five key players. New additions like Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez have the potential to step up and play like the All-Stars that they are. A struggling Joba Chamberlain will need to put injuries and distractions behind him.
Over the next few weeks, there will be many takes on players who are needed by teams around the league, but here is my take on who is essential for a deep playoff run in hopes of being named world champions for a 28th time.
Note: All stats come from ESPN and were compiled before the start of games this weekend, unless otherwise noted.
5. Joba Chamberlain
Many people, including Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, have been entertaining the idea that the Yankees could send Joba Chamberlain back down to AAA. However, because of Joba's time in the majors, it is unlikely he would be sent down.
Instead, he will have to work out his command problems in the big leagues. Since returning from the DL, Joba has pitched 6.2 innings and he has a 9.45 ERA, four strikeouts and a 2.85 WHIP.
Back in 2009, the last time the Yankees won the World Series, Joba pitched 6.1 innings and had a 2.84 ERA, seven strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP.
While the Yankees bullpen has been consistent, they aren't untouchable. The bullpen has a combined 3.84 ERA. In order to survive in the postseason, the team needs some big performances from a pitcher who is not hittable.
Joba has proven before, like in 2009, that he can be a great addition to the bullpen. He has a month left to work out his command issues and remind Yankee fans everywhere why they fell in love with him in the first place.
4. Raul Ibanez
Raul Ibanez is an unknown on the Yankee roster for the postseason. He provides a lot of versatility. This season, he has played left and right field for the Yankees while also filling the DH spot with Andruw Jones. Ibanez has also played first base in the past if it was necessary.
This season, Ibanez is hitting .246 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. Ibanez is hitting .262 since the All-Star break, which shows he is improving, and he still has a month to get better before the postseason.
The Yankees have always had a surprise player step up in the postseason. Hideki Matsui filled that role in 2009, tying a World Series record with six RBI in the clinching game to win the MVP.
Ibanez has been playing well of late and has been able to hit with RISP(.239 BA this season). Of the 21 hits he has with RISP, only five of them are home runs. In a Yankee lineup notorious for winning via the home run, having someone who can advance runners base to base is important.
The Yankees lead MLB in home runs with 196, almost 30 more than the next team. They will need consistent hitters who are not necessarily home-run hitters to get on base and move the runners along.
3. Ichiro Suzuki
Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki are on this list for similar reasons. Suzuki is even more essential to the Yankees' postseason success this season.
Ichiro has been one of the most successful Japanese players to ever make the transition to the MLB. This year, he is batting .269, which is lower than his career .322 average. However, since being traded to the Yankees, he has been batting .302 with 13 RBI in 29 games.
The trade to New York is exactly what he needed. Ichiro is nearing the end of his career, and the last time he was in the playoffs was 2001. He is a great defensive add with only one error this season and is a 10-time All-Star for a reason.
While he doesn't have the speed he used to, he can still steal bases. He has stolen 19 so far this season and has a .750 OPS average since joining the Yankees.
The postseason will create an atmosphere where managers and players are willing to risk more, and expect Ichiro to be one of those players to step up and look like the 10-time All-Star.
2. Andy Pettitte
Andy Pettitte has been, and always will be, a Yankee favorite. He has earned it. Part of the Core Four and a product of the farm system, he is the epitome of a Yankee from the height of the Joe Torre-George Steinbrenner era. He has five World Series rings to prove it.
His broken leg from a comeback pitch was a freak accident and unfortunate. However, he is working hard to return, and after a few setbacks, it definitely looks like he will be part of the postseason.
Having Pettitte in the postseason is huge for Joe Girardi. He has what many of the other starting pitchers don't have: consistency and experience.
In nine starts this season, he is 3-3. He has a 3.22 ERA, 59 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP. It looked like Pettitte was back in full form. The postseason is often determined by who has the best four starters.
Lately, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have been unreliable. Nova had a 7.03 ERA before going on the DL. Hughes has a 4.45 ERA in August. Hiroki Kuroda has shined of late and has a 2.96 ERA.
If the Yankees have CC Sabathia leading the rotation, followed by Kuroda then Pettitte, they would have three dominant starters. Then, they could choose to go to Nova, Hughes or back to CC for their fourth start.
Pettitte has more postseason wins than any active pitcher. In 42 starts, he is 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP for his career in postseason starts. Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee, CC and Livan Hernandez are the next closest with seven postseason wins.
Pettitte explained it best back in 2011 when he thought he was retiring.
If you look at the numbers, my numbers are very similar in the postseason to what they would be over my career. I definitely have had a lot of good games in the postseason, and there is so much bigger of an impact on those games -- and you get so much more attention and stuff like that. But like I've said before, I feel like I just get a good peace about those games. I get a real good calmness that comes over me when I get in big games.
Pettitte has proven since 1996 that he is the pitcher Girardi wants on the mound when it counts most.
In what was perhaps one of the most important starts of his career, he out-dueled John Smoltz for eight-and-a-third shutout innings. Joe Girardi needs that this postseason.
1. Derek Jeter
Captain Clutch, Mr. November—his nicknames explain enough as to why Derek Jeter is essential to a successful postseason.
However, after all the talk of Jeter in a decline last season, this is Jeter's postseason to shine. To remind everyone why he is, not was, one of the best shortstops to ever play the game.
There is no question he is having a great season. He leads the team with a .324 average. He has been hitting .358 since the All-Star break.
Like Pettitte, he is consistent and has five World Series rings to prove his success, among all the accolades he has.
In the postseason, he has a .307 BA, .374 OBP, .465 SLG and .839 OPS. He has played in the postseason every year of his career, except 2008.
In 2009, the last time the Yankees achieved the ultimate goal, he had an above-average postseason at the plate. He had a .344 batting average, .432 OBP, .563 SLG and a .995 OPS.
In the postseason, he is clutch—perhaps more clutch than any other player. Every time the Yankees need an RBI, it seems like Jeter is there with inside-out swing to knock in the runner.
With Jeter batting leadoff, everything starts with him, and his ability to get on base can make things happen for this postseason.
Vintage Jeter is back. To achieve a World Series win, they need Jeter to be the clutch player he always has been while continuing to have one of the best seasons of his life