The New York Yankees are fighting for a playoff berth, but they won't just be in the playoffs this season—they'll be advancing deep into the playoffs.
The first reason to believe in a deep push into October is Derek Jeter. The shortstop has been playing phenomenal baseball, and he's been defying father time. The Yankees' captain is hitting a whopping .323—good enough for third in the American League. It's also worth mentioning that Jeter has 15 homers up to this point, just one shy of his 2010 and 2011 seasons combined.
It's almost like Derek has been rejuvenated, and it couldn't have come at a better time. After a disappointing 2011 season, everyone believed Jeter was on his way out of pinstripes and on his way into the commentary booth, but Captain Clutch is looking to add another World Series ring to his collection. If he can keep up his consistent play, the Yankees will have that opportunity, but he cannot do it alone.
With Mark Teixeira out, the Yankees welcomed back Alex Rodriguez from the DL with open arms on September 3.
A-Rod's provided a spark on offense for New York lately. In his last seven games, Rodriguez has seven hits in 24 at-bats, bringing his average to .279; he's also given the Yankees one home run and three RBI while also scoring six runs.
With this kind of production coming back, it's hard to argue that A-Rod won't factor in the Yankees not only making the playoffs, but advancing deep into them.
You can argue that Rodriguez has come up short numerous times in crunch time during the postseason, but his numbers suggest he's a fair option for the big hit—.277 batting average, 13 HR, 41 RBI and an OBP of .386 in 16 series.
I'll call on the Yankees' third baseman for a big hit.
Back to Tex.
The Yankees will definitely benefit from having a healthy Teixeira in the lineup. The earliest he'll return is Friday, and that's enough to impact New York. We all know he's a Gold Glove first baseman, and the significance of having his bat in the lineup is immense. He will push the Yankees further into contention, no doubt about it.
Also, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin are finally overcoming the slump they've been in as of late.
The Grandy Man is hitting .318 in the last seven days; he's got five home runs and 11 RBI. This is certainly beneficial to the Yankees' chase.
Russell is doing his part, too. He's finally over the Mendoza line, batting .209. In the month of September, the Yankee catcher is hitting .297 with 11 hits in 37 at-bats. Not to mention he's also drawn seven walks, showing his plate discipline, which will come in handy come October.
However, I think the biggest contribution to the Yankees advancing deep in the playoffs will be their pitching.
Ivan Nova returned yesterday and pitched a gem against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. In his return from a shoulder injury, Nova went six-plus innings, only surrendering two runs, while also fanning eight and improving his record to 12-7.
Hiroki Kuroda is everything the Yankees hoped for at this point. With a 14-10 record, the pitcher appears to be a key to the Yankees' postseason aspirations. He's been the pitcher manager Joe Girardi could count on for quality innings every five days. If the Yankees look to push deep into the postseason, this guy will play a huge part.
And returning Tuesday for New York will be Andy Pettitte; this season he's a modest 3-3 with an ERA of 3.22, but his postseason numbers are what depicts just how valuable he will be to a deep postseason run.
He's accumulated 263 postseason innings in 13 years and 30 series, but the standout stat is his wins over that time—Pettitte holds the record for most postseason wins with 19.
Enough reasons to believe they'll advance?
Well here's one more reason...they're the New York Yankees.
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