New York Yankees: Ranking Bartolo Colon and 8 Biggest Early Surprises
Despite trends or reputations, a player’s delivery and performance on the field is always unpredictable, despite how sound a prediction or projection may be.
From Mark Teixeira breaking his slow-starting early-season streak to pitcher Rafael Soriano unable to meet the expectations of the New York Yankees by pitching poorly, the Yankees have certainly proved this season how baseball is far from predictable.
With some surprises leaving fans shocked and others leaving fans thrilled, the Yankees have set the stage for many more surprises yet to come.
Here are Bartolo Colon and the eight biggest early surprises of the 2011 season.
No. 9: Andruw Jones
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With a salary of $1.5 million, Andruw Jones has proven that he is as good as the higher-paid players on the team.
Signed during the offseason as a Yankee pinch runner and to provide offense against left-handed pitchers, Andruw Jones has perfected these expected tasks while also providing aid for those struggling on the plate.
In his first at bat, on April 5th against the Minnesota Twins, Jones launched a home run off of a pitch from Brian Duensing. His success continued from there, recording a .226 batting average for the 2011 season.
In 13 games, Jones has two runs, seven hits, one double, one home run and two RBI.
No. 8: Brett Gardner
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Brett Gardner was expected to excel after coming off of a successful 2010 season.
Ending the previous season with a .277 batting average, Gardner had 97 runs, 132 hits, 20 doubles, seven triples and five home runs.
Coming off spring training, the outfielder was expected to be the Yankees leadoff hitter but quickly lost that position in the lineup. In 90 at bats, Gardner has only 21 hits, 14 runs, three doubles, one triple and three home runs.
Attributing Gardner’s slump to being uncomfortable on the plate and to not using enough of his lower body, Gardner can hopefully turn around his performance for the better.
No. 7: Mark Teixeira
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Early into a new season, many don't expect much from Mark Teixeira.
Known infamously as a slow-starting hitter, Teixeira posted a .136 batting average in April of 2010 and a .200 batting average the year before that. Overall, Teixeira maintains a .235 batting average for the first month of each season.
However,Teixeira has made a change this season, a change that is extraordinary for the New York Yankees.
Recording a .259 batting average in 31 games, the power hitter has managed to drive in 22 runs with 29 hits, eight doubles, 21 RBI and nine home runs.
The end to his slow starting trend began on Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers, as he helped the Yankees win 6-3 due to his three-run home run.
Teixeira has finally overcome his slow-starting trend and may finally rid himself of this reputation.
No. 6: Russell Martin
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Martin started off the season strong, recording one of the highest batting averages on the team.
In one of his most noteworthy performances so far, Martin homered twice against the Baltimore Orioles, aiding the Yankees’s 15-3 victory by a three-run home run and a solo shot.
In 91 at bats this season, Martin has 14 runs, 24 hits, five doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI, posting a .264 batting average.
No. 5: Phil Hughes
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With a 4.19 ERA for the 2010 season, Hughes allowed 162 hits, 83 runs and 25 home runs, proving to be a reliable pitcher able to lead the Yankees to victory for the 2011 season.
However, Hughes's performance this season was a shock to everyone, as the starting pitcher took a turn for the worst. In only 10.1 innings pitched, Hughes allowed 19 hits, 16 runs and four home runs and posted a 13.94 ERA.
Suffering from a "dead arm," Hughes has been placed on the disabled list and is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks as the pitcher is still unaware of the cause of his injury.
No. 4: Rafael Soriano
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As the greatest closer in baseball, Mariano Rivera is closer to retiring, and the Yankees are in need of a powerful, consistent, reliable closer to take his position.
Aware of the difficulty of this feat, the Yankees have signed Rafael Soriano, a closer who has many of the capabilities and qualities of Rivera.
Soriano ended the 2010 season with an impressive 1.73 ERA. In 62.1 innings pitched, Soriano allowed only 14 runs and four home runs and led the MLB with 45 saved games.
These noteworthy statistics make Soriano seem like the perfect successor to Rivera's position, right? Well, his performance so far has surprisingly proved that maybe Soriano isn't the right man for the job.
In only 14 innings pitched, Soriano allowed nine runs, 15 hits and one home run and has maintained a dismal ERA of 5.79.
Whether it is Soriano's inability to adjust to his new position or his difficulty to adapt to his new environment, Soriano is leaving many to wonder: Will he pitch like the great closer he once was? Or did the Yankees pay him $35 million for nothing?
No. 3: Freddy Garcia
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After coming off the 2010 season with a 4.64 ERA, not much was expected from the 13-year veteran, except to fill in the remaining spot of the weak starting rotation by pitching decent.
However, Freddy Garcia’s contributions this season has been surprising, making a drastic improvement from last year.
With an outstanding 2.88 ERA in 25 innings pitched, Garcia has allowed only 22 hits, eight runs and three home runs, as Garcia is performing at his absolute best.
Garcia has proved time and time again this season that he is capable of getting himself out of a jam without letting the inning get out of control. An excellent example of this would be in the Yankees' 6-3 win against the Baltimore Orioles, where Garcia gave up a single and walk with only one out in the second inning.
Garcia managed to strike out Cesar Izturis and continued to pitch brilliantly for the remainder of the game.
No. 2: A.J. Burnett
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With a 5.26 ERA for the 2010 season and a 7.50 ERA for the postseason, who knew A.J. Burnett would be the pitcher to come through for the Yankees in their time of need.
Known for getting himself into jams and losing control right then and there, Burnett has made a surprising turn around this season. In 43.2 innings pitched, Burnett has maintained a 3.71 ERA, allowing 38 hits, 22 runs and only five home runs.
In a game against the Detroit Tigers on April 28th, Burnett pitched a no-hitter into the sixth. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Burnett regained control and got two outs.
Despite their loss due to an error on Eduardo Nunez, this was just one out of the many surprisingly solid performances by Burnett this season.
No. 1: Bartolo Colon
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Ending the 2009 season with a 4.19 ERA, many assumed Bartolo Colon was finished as a pitcher after taking the 2010 season off due to personal issues.
When Colon was given a major league contract, I, along with others, expected Colon to be more of a burden to the Yankees than an aid.
However, Colon has proven himself to be one of the better contributing pitchers in the starting rotation.
In his first start of the season, against the Toronto Blue Jays, Colon earned his first win, allowing four runs. His success continued from there as Colon allowed 39 hits, 17 runs and six home runs in 37.1 innings pitched.
With 37 strikeouts so far, the 37-year-old has recorded a 3.86 ERA, proving that despite his age, he is back and has many more momentous innings ahead of him.