New York Yankees Grades For 2010
Overall, the 2010 season was a disappointment because the Yankees did not win the World Series, but last year's championship softens the blow a bit.
This is not the collapse of 2004, the gutwrencher of 2001 or the frustrating drought of 2005-08. Instead, this was a good team, but not a great team.
With that in mind, let's hand out grades for 2010 to every pitcher with at least 26 innings and every hitter with at least 72 at-bats.
Robinson Cano, 2B: A+
Robinson Cano was the best player on the Yankees this year and one of the best in the entire league.
He slowed down after a ridiculously hot April (.400, 8 HR), but still led the team with a .319 average, a .534 slugging percentage, a .914 OPS and 41 doubles.
The 28-year-old finished in the top nine in the American League in average, homers (29), RBIs (109), runs (103), on-base percentage (.381), slugging and OPS.
Promoted to the No. 5 spot in the order, Cano improved his clutch hitting from a .207 batter with runners in scoring position in 2009 to a .322 hitter this year.
And he kept it up in the postseason, batting .343 with a club-best four homers, six RBIs, eight runs, 12 hits and one triple.
Cano was stellar in the field as well this season. He could be on his way to winning his first Gold Glove after leading all AL second baseman with a .996 fielding percentage, 432 assists, 341 putouts and 114 double plays, while being tied for the fewest errors with just three.
CC Sabathia, SP: A+
CC Sabathia's 21-7 record and 3.18 ERA puts him near the top in the American League Cy Young Award race.
He led the league in victories, finished second in winning percentage and innings pitched (237 2/3) and placed sixth with 197 strikeouts, seventh in ERA and 10th with a 1.19 WHIP.
The big lefty actually had more success against righties, holding them to just a .232 average.
Sabathia went 2-0 and the Yankees won all three of his postseason starts, but his 5.63 ERA and 1.81 WHIP was reason enough to drop him below Robinson Cano for team MVP this year.
Andy Pettitte, SP: A
Andy Pettitte's magnificent year was sidetracked by an injury in July, but he still managed to finish 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA and capped off the season with two tremendous performances in the playoffs.
Many wondered how the veteran would fare in the postseason after struggling in his return from the disabled list, but all Pettitte did was hold the Twins and Rangers to two runs on five hits in a pair of seven-inning performances. He issued just one walk in those two starts combined.
The southpaw held lefties to a .186 average in 2010.
Mariano Rivera, RP: A
Among big-league closers, Mariano Rivera was very good, but not great this season.
He had the second-best WHIP (0.83) and sixth-best ERA (1.80), but just the 11th-most saves (33) and the 12th-best save percentage (86.8).
In addition, his 60 innings were only the 14th-most among closers.
Kerry Wood, RP: A
Kerry Wood was a pleasant surprise after coming over at the trade deadline.
The right-hander, who had a 6.30 ERA this year with Cleveland, went 2-0 with a 0.69 mark in 26 innings with New York.
He struck out 31, but walked a hefty 18, which brought his WHIP up to 1.23, despite allowing just 14 hits.
Wood yielded two runs on six hits and five walks with seven strikeouts over eight innings (2.25 ERA) in the playoffs.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: A-
Even a down year for Alex Rodriguez is a good year for everyone else.
A-Rod racked up 30 homers (good for eighth in the league) and 125 RBIs (second place), giving him 13 straight years with 30 homers and 100 RBIs and a total of 14 seasons overall with those totals, the most in major league history.
But the third baseman did struggle to get hits this year, putting up only a .270 average and a .341 on-base percentage, both marks the lowest for a full season in his career.
Rodriguez also experienced another poor October.
After last season's tremendous run through the playoffs, A-Rod reverted back to his former self, hitting just .219 with no homers and three RBIs.
Nick Swisher, RF: A-
Nick Swisher had another solid year for the Yankees.
After replacing the ineffective and injured Nick Johnson in the No. 2 hole, Swisher did his job by getting on base nearly 36 percent of the time and scoring 91 runs, while also supplying some pop with 29 homers, 33 doubles and a .511 slugging percentage.
But the right fielder once again bombed in the playoffs, going just 6-for-34 (.176) with eight strikeouts.
Brett Gardner, LF: A-
Brett Gardner made Brian Cashman look very good this year after the general manager trusted the speedster to replace Johnny Damon in left field.
Gardner led the team with seven triples, 47 steals and a .383 on-base percentage, the last two placing him among the top eight in the American League.
But Gardner still didn't take full advantage of his quickness, laying down only five successful sacrifice bunts, tied for 28th in the league and way behind leaders Chone Figgins and Elvis Andrus, who each had 17.
Mark Teixeira, 1B: B+
Mark Teixeira hit a career-low .256, but still managed to launch a team-high 33 blasts and drive in a very respectable 108 runs.
It could've been worse as the 30-year-old batted just .136 in April with two homers and nine RBIs.
After going 4-for-13 (.308) with a long ball in the American League Division Series, Teixeira went hitless in 14 AL Championship Series at-bats before injuring his hamstring.
But the first baseman was outstanding defensively again this year, putting up a .998 fielding percentage while committing just three errors.
Boone Logan, RP: B+
Boone Logan was a pretty good lefty specialist for the Yankees this season.
He was 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA, but 20 walks in 40 innings inflated his WHIP to 1.35.
The southpaw struck out nearly a batter an inning and lefties hit just .190 off him, although in the American League Championship Series, he did not do his job, yielding a double and a homer to Josh Hamilton of the Rangers in back-to-back nights.
Marcus Thames, DH: B
Marcus Thames was a nice surprise for the Yankees this season.
He played three different positions in the field, but mostly served as the designated hitter versus left-handed pitching, against which he batted .302.
But he wasn't too shabby against righties, either, posting a .268 average from the left side of the plate.
Overall, Thames hit .288 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs, while slugging .491 in 212 at-bats.
The 33-year-old was disappointing in the postseason, however, going just 4-for-23 (.174).
Phil Hughes, SP: B-
That Phil Hughes had 18 wins this season and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners had 13 should tell you how misleading that stat can be.
Hughes was terrific at the beginning of the year, posting a 10-1 record and a 3.17 ERA over his first 13 starts, but once he eclipsed his career-high of 86 innings pitched, the right-hander struggled, making you wonder why the Yankees were willing to let Hughes increase his innings by 90.1, while they were so excruciatingly careful with Joba Chamberlain.
Hughes went 8-7 with a 5.07 ERA from June 29 on.
In the end, the 24-year-old still finished with 18 victories, but that was because he led baseball by a wide margin with an average of 9.6 runs of support. Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies was second in that department, yet more than a full run behind the Yankee. Brett Cecil of the Blue Jays was second in the American League at just 7.97 runs of support.
And in case you were wondering, soon-to-be Cy Young winner Hernandez was dead last in Major League Baseball at 3.75 runs of support.
Hughes' wear and tear showed in the AL Championship Series, where he went 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA.
Derek Jeter, SS: C+
The captain had the worst season of his career in 2010.
His .270 average was not only the lowest with the Yankees, but it was 21 points below his previous low of .291 set back in 1997. His 106 strikeouts were the most he's had in five years.
The 36-year-old struggled on the road (.246) and against right-handed pitchers (.246), constantly rolling his hands over on inside pitches and grounding out to the shortstop.
Jeter was also late on outside offerings. Instead of taking them the other way to right field, he would foul them off.
One of the bright spots for Jeter were his 111 runs scored, second in the American League, which speaks to his great baserunning and the guys behind him in the lineup.
And while the veteran's defense is often knocked, he led all AL shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage, while committing the fewest errors (6).
Curtis Granderson, CF: C
Curtis Granderson was headed for an extremely disappointing season before hitting coach Kevin Long straightened out his swing.
Still, the center fielder hit just .247, marking the second straight year he finished under .250, and he continued to struggle against left-handers (.234).
Granderson did contribute 24 homers, but drove in only 67 thanks to a .228 average with runners in scoring position, and struck out 116 times.
He stole 12 out of 14 bases, but that total could have been higher had his on-base percentage been greater than .324.
The bright spot for Granderson came in the playoffs, when he led the team with a .357 average and an astounding .514 OBP due to eight walks.
David Robertson, RP: C-
David Robertson was second on the team with a 10.42 strikeout per nine innings, but he was also second to last among pitchers with at least 12 innings with a 1.50 WHIP.
It was all or nothing for the right-hander who struck out 71, but allowed 59 hits and 33 walks in 61.1 frames this season.
And the Yankees got the bad Robertson in the playoffs, when he yielded six runs in three and one-third innings.
Ivan Nova, SP: C-
Ivan Nova showed pretty good poise for a rookie, chalking up a 1-2 record and a 4.50 ERA in 10 appearances.
With Andy Pettitte on the shelf and Javier Vazquez proving to be worthless, Nova made seven starts in August and September, going at least five innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer in four of them.
Sergio Mitre, RP: C-
Sergio Mitre's numbers indicate that he actually had a decent season.
The right-hander had a 3.33 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, but you must consider that 78 percent of his workload this year came in low-leverage, or low-pressure, situations.
When the pressure was really on in the playoffs, Mitre had a 10.13 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP.
Jorge Posada, C: D+
Jorge Posada has hopefully played his final full season as a catcher.
Of the 54 American Leaguers who caught at least one game this year, only two committed more errors than Posada. Unfortunately for the Yankees, one of them was Francisco Cervelli, who tied for the league lead with 13.
Only one catcher had more passed balls than Posada, and his 15.3 caught stealing percentage was second-lowest among catchers playing at least 60 games. Again, Cervelli was the lowest at 14.1 percent.
Not only is Posada the worst defensive starting catcher in the league, but he's also probably the worst baserunner in the game.
Usually, Posada's production at the plate offsets these downfalls, but not this year. His 18 homers, .357 on-base percentage and .454 slugging percentage were acceptable, but his .248 average and 57 RBIs were not.
The Yankees need to pick up a new starting catcher this offseason and Posada must become the full-time designated hitter.
Lance Berkman, DH: D+
Lance Berkman finally started hitting toward the end of his stint with the Yankees, including a .313 average in the postseason, but the former Astro hit just .255 with one homer and nine RBIs in 106 at-bats after coming over in a trade at the Deadline.
He was useless against lefties, going 2-for-18 (.111).
Joba Chamberlain, RP: D+
It was pretty obvious Joba Chamberlain wouldn't be successful this season after the Yankees took the next step in destroying his career when they denied him his promised starter's spot back in spring training.
Chamberlain had flashes of brilliance, as when his ERA was below 2.30 in August and September, but overall, he had a pretty poor 4.40 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
The best thing that could happen to Joba now is to be traded to another team that will treat him fairly and allow him to show what he can do as a starting pitcher.
Chad Gaudin, RP: D
It was quite clear Joe Girardi was tanking the American League East race in September when he allowed Chad Gaudin to make nine appearances out of the bullpen in under three weeks. Over that stretch, he had a 7.45 ERA and batters hit .317 off him.
The right-hander was doing so well with Oakland (0-2, 8.83 ERA), that the Yankees decided to bring him back.
He had a lower 4.50 mark with New York, but like Sergio Mitre, most of his innings came in low-leverage situations.
Francisco Cervelli, C: D
Francisco Cervelli hit well in April, May and September. The other three months, he was terrible at the plate, and he was disappointing behind the dish all season.
A year after hitting .298 in 42 games and being a solid defensive replacement for Jorge Posada, Cervelli was just as bad receiving and throwing the ball as the man he backed up, and that's never a good thing when you only bat .271 with three homers and 38 RBIs.
The 24-year-old tied for the league lead with 13 errors as a catcher, and his caught stealing percentage of 14.1 was the lowest among those who played at least 60 games at the position in the American League.
His primary upside was that A.J. Burnett pitched to a 4.66 ERA with Cervelli behind the plate, as opposed to 7.28 with Posada as his battery mate.
A.J. Burnett, SP: D-
A.J. Burnett had the worst season of his life, posting a career-high 5.26 ERA and 15 losses.
He ranked second in the league in defeats and eighth with 78 walks, which contributed to his bloated 1.51 WHIP.
Being an emotional pitcher, Burnett must have been affected by the death of his grandfather and the absence of pitching coach Dave Eiland. Both those events took place in June, when the right-hander went 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA.
I'm not trying to make excuses for the guy, but there has to be a reason why a 12-year veteran with a career 3.99 ERA puts up numbers so far worse than we are used to seeing from him.
After all, he went 9-3 with a 2.93 mark in April, May and July, so clearly this man can still pitch.
I wouldn't give up on Burnett just yet.
Dustin Moseley, SP: D-
Dustin Moseley went 4-4 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 16 appearances (nine starts).
His 4.55 strikeouts per nine innings were the lowest on the team among pitchers with more than 12 innings.
Ramiro Pena, Util: D-
Ramiro Pena's seven steals in eight attempts were the only things he brought to the Yankees this season.
He can't hit (.227/.258/.247) and his .970 fielding percentage and five errors in limited work doesn't qualify him as a reliable defensive replacement.
Austin Kearns, OF: F
The Yankees gave up very little to get Austin Kearns at the trade deadline, and they got even less in return.
The former Indian hit just .235 with two homers and seven RBIs in 102 at-bats and looked lost at times in left field.
Chan Ho Park, RP: F
Another failed pickup by the Yankees, Chan Ho Park had a 5.60 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 35.1 innings before being designated for assignment on Aug. 1 and later claimed by the Pirates.
Nick Johnson, DH: F
Nick Johnson can sure draw a walk. I'll say that about him.
The designated hitter managed to put up a .388 on-base percentage despite posting just a .167 average in 72 at-bats before being lost for the season.
It really is a shame that Johnson can't stay healthy because he can be a valuable asset to a lineup, as shown by his .291/.426 season in 2009.
Javier Vazquez, SP: F
This is the man the Yankees traded for, offered a $11.5 million contract to and had take Joba Chamberlain's spot in the rotation.
Javier Vazquez was promised to be an innings-eater, but tossed just 157.1 frames en route to a 10-10 record and 5.32 ERA that cost him his starter's spot and a place on the postseason roster.
Money well spent.
The right-hander now has a 5.09 mark in his two stints with New York and a 4.65 ERA during his five seasons in the American League.
He went 5-6 with a 6.22 ERA in 19 appearances (14 starts) against teams with a winning record in 2010, and caused me to leave a Yankees game early for the first time in my life after he walked a batter and hit the next three with pitches in a loss to the Rays on Sept. 23.