Grading Every New York Yankees Player in the Postseason

Christopher ConnorsCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2012

Grading Every New York Yankees Player in the Postseason

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    The Yankees find themselves in a threatening 0-2 hole with Justin Verlander looming tomorrow night on the mound in Detroit; yet in a season of inconsistency, improbability and the unexpected, are you really willing to count the Yankees out now?

    The 2012 postseason has been one of the worst hitting displays that the New York Yankees have put on over a seven-game stretch of playoff baseball in a very, very long time. This team is not hitting unless it's the ninth inning or unless the player's name is Raul Ibanez.

    Even worse, the Yankees are now without their captain, Derek Jeter, whose leadership and on-the-field results have inspired and carried this team so far. It's time to see the Bombers' mettle and toughness as they're forced to carry on without him.

    For the fans, it's been heart-wrenching, dramatic and just plain tough to watch this vaunted, home run hitting lineup bow out so meekly against pitchers like Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez who have been good but far from great.

    For a team that led the majors in homers and for a hitter like Robinson Cano, who had the hottest bat on the planet entering the playoffs, it feels as though much of the Bombers' damage has been self-inflicted in these key moments over the last week.

    Of course, the Yankees are in the ALCS right now so the good news is that we were not left to write their 2012 season obituary after a series loss to the division-rival Orioles. The Yankees' pitching has been outstanding. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have been dynamic and on their games.

    Kuroda's seven inning, 11-strikeout performance on short rest yesterday against Detroit will surely go down as one of the better pitching performances in recent memory for the Yankees in the postseason.

    The only one better than that this postseason was by the Yankee ace, Sabathia, whose complete game gem Friday night is the biggest reason why the Bombers are still playing baseball right now.

    This series has this awful feeling, down 0-2, backs against the wall and the biggest bats in the Yankee lineup not hitting and looking lifeless, clueless and helpless at the plate. Time stops for no man and the Yankees have this off-day today to figure out what's gone wrong and how they can fix it.

    Listed in the forthcoming slides are the postseason grades so far for the Yankees through seven games of the 2012 MLB postseason. The Yankees pitchers will be pleased, but the Yankee hitters will be hoping that things can only get better.

    They need to soon, otherwise it should be a long, painful offseason in the Bronx.

Yankee Hitters

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    Derek Jeter: The captain performed quite well in the playoffs this year, especially when you compare his hitting to the rest of the team. Jeter hit .333 in six games and still leads the team with four runs scored. The Captain was his usual self, coming through in big spots and leading this team forward.

    His presence in the clubhouse and on the field cannot be understated and now without him, the Yankees have to find someone else willing to step up. The good news for Jeter is that it appears he should recover well and be back in time for next season's spring training.

    Grade: A-

     

    Curtis Granderson: Granderson tacked on the third run in Game 5 of the ALDS sending a Troy Patton breaking ball into orbit, way out into the right field stands. Otherwise, Granderson has been so bad that many have questioned whether he should still be in the lineup.

    He should be, simply because there isn't any other choice. Brett Gardner just isn't capable right now of being an everyday player and Granderson did finish one homer off the major league lead. Unfortunately, Granderson is 3-for-26 with 14 strikeouts this postseason.

    The Yankees can only hope he finds some old magic back in Detroit where he started his career.

    Grade: D-

     

    Robinson Cano: For all of the talk about how terrible Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez have been, no hitter in the Yankee lineup has been worse than Cano. He's 0 for his last 26 and looks lost and desperate at the plate right now.

    It's an absolutely stunning development for one of the game's best players. Watching him falter over and over again is that proverbial, awful train wreck you simply can't believe, yet can't look away from.

    Grade: F

     

    Mark Teixeira: The Yankees first baseman has done quite well with the bat and the glove so far in the playoffs, to the point that he's overall been the Yankees best everyday player. Bear in mind that Raul Ibanez has not started every game.

    Teixeira is now being looked upon to supply more power and to keep the hits coming, as his .320 average and stellar play in the field have been one of the lone bright spots so far.

    Grade: A-

     

    Alex Rodriguez: With the exception of the 2004 and 2009 postseasons, Alex Rodriguez's playoff career with the Yankees has bordered on the unbelievable. How could one player appear to choke so much, over and over again in pressure-packed moments?

    Especially when that one player is one of the greatest players to ever live? By the way, if you know the answer to those questions, please contact the Yankees immediately. Please.

    Grade: F

     

    Nick Swisher: Nick Swisher has picked up right where he left off in previous postseasons for the Yankees. In case you were wondering, that is not a good thing. It's a terrible thing. Because Swisher has proven himself to be a very good hitter during the regular season and a very bad hitter during the playoffs.

    The clutch at-bats continue to find Swisher and A-Rod and they continue to choke in those sports, crippling the Yankees' chances of advancing further in the postseason. Hopefully he can turn things around, but right now he looks clueless.

    Just remember when he’s not playing in the Bronx next season that you’re going to miss those highly desirable and coveted numbers coveted from this fan-favorite corner outfielder. From the regular season, not the postseason.

    Grade: F

     

    Raul Ibanez: All you need to know is what this man accomplished in Game 3 of the ALDS and his bone-chilling, belief-defying home run in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night. Raul Ibanez may not actually be human. He's something greater.

    Grade: A+

     

    Russell Martin: First and foremost, you have to give this man props for catching every single inning of every postseason game so far, especially when you consider how grueling the schedule has been and how many extra-inning games there have been.

    Martin has by no means been great with the bat but he hasn't quite been as bad as Swisher, A-Rod and Cano. He's being relied upon for way more offensive production right now than he should be, but a player of his grit and toughness can handle these situations better than others.

    You'd like for him to get more hits, but he's doing all he can at this point.

    Grade: C+


    Ichiro Suzuki: Ichiro's 14 total bases are second only to Raul Ibanez and the veteran has been a joy to watch and has supplied his fair share of big hits for the Bombers. A huge ninth inning home run in Game 1, a big double in Game 5 of the ALDS that nearly left the yard, and scrappy, gritty hits to keep rallies alive.

    Ichiro has been everything that the Yankees could have possibly expected and more.

    Grade: A-

     

    Eric Chavez: Eric Chavez has 11 at-bats, zero hits and six strikeouts. He hasn't had a lot of opportunity but he's done absolutely nothing.

    Grade: F


    Jayson Nix: Nix is 2-for-7 but the numbers don't tell the full tale. In limited duty, Nix has driven some balls very far to left-center field over the last several games and one of them in Game 4 of the ALDS nearly left the park. He's not going to replace Jeter but he's doing reasonably well given the circumstances.

    Grade: C

Starting Pitching

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    Grades:

    1. CC Sabathia: A+
    2. Andy Pettitte: B+
    3. Hiroki Kuroda: A
    4. Phil Hughes: A-

    The New York Yankees couldn't have dreamed for better starts from their four starting pitchers. Led by CC Sabathia, the Yankees' starters have followed suit and turned in quality starts in all seven games so far this postseason.

    The Yankees have only won three of the games, something that is entirely a product of their awful hitting and nothing have to do with their superb pitching.

    Sabathia has shown himself to the the reliable staff ace that everyone knows he is, while Andy Pettitte has also been very tough over his first two starts. Sabathia has a 1.53 ERA in 17.2 innings and Pettitte has a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings.

    Hiroki Kuroda has been sensational in his two starts, regardless of whether the final box score shows that he allowed three earned runs last night. To assign those runs to him, particularly given the umpire's unforgivable gaffe at second base is criminal.

    Kuroda turned in a breathtaking gem on short rest and deserved a much better fate yesterday, but unfortunately the Yankees' dormant bats gave him no relief. The Bombers now turn to Phil Hughes as they hope their youngest postseason starter can go toe-to-toe and outduel Justin Verlander tomorrow night.

    The great news for Hughes? He pitched one of the best games of his career earlier this season in Detroit, a complete game gem where he shut down the Tigers lineup. He has it in him and he's capable of reproducing such an outing if he can keep his main pitches from catching too much of the zone.

Bullpen

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    Grades

    1. Rafael Soriano: A
    2. David Robertson: A+
    3. The Rest: B-

    David Robertson and Rafael Soriano have combined for 9.2 innings this postseason, not allowing a run, permitting only four hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts. Dominance. You cannot say enough good things about the job these two relievers have done.

    David Phelps has taken two tough-luck losses by coming on in extra innings in Game 4 of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Phelps had a really good rookie season and perhaps it was too much to expect him to shut down two solid lineups given the gravity of the two situations that he entered.

    Derek Lowe got knocked around in Game 1 of the ALCS and likely will not be seen much for the rest of this postseason if at all possible, though perhaps being the first man out of the bullpen was not the role he's best suited for. He could still come in in long relief and do well.

    Cody Eppley, Joba Chamberlain, Clay Rapada and Boone Logan have all acquitted themselves nicely in limited duty out of the 'pen but the main story has been the superlative work of Soriano and Robertson.

Looking Ahead

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    This all comes down to how much you believe that the Yankees moribund lineup can turn things around, find a spark and hopefully turn that to fire in Motown these next several games. The task on paper appears quite daunting.

    Down 0-2, facing the game's best pitcher in Game 3, a team that is dying for just a couple runs during the main part of the game to gain some momentum, and oh yeah, doing all of this without Derek Jeter.

    Yet when you look at the bright side, you see a Yankees' pitching staff that has been incredibly tough and resolute during the seven games of this postseason. Phil Hughes is more than capable of carrying the torch in Game 3 and shutting down the Tigers' lineup.

    The fact is, Detroit hasn't hit much in the two games of the ALCS so far and while they do have good hitters, they're not exactly the best hitting team in baseball. If Hughes can stay out of trouble and the Yankees can get some long awaited production from their bats, the Yankees do have a chance to defeat the mighty Verlander.

    Then suddenly in Game 4, the Bombers will have their ace, CC Sabathia on the mound to hopefully pitch them to a series tie. It's possible. The Yankees hitting cannot possibly get any worse and if this team can get back to blasting home runs, the Yankees can still win this thing.