New York Yankees: 5 Positives to Take from Their ALDS Collapse
Mercifully, it is over.
If we are being honest, I think deep down most Yankees fans knew that this team wasn't destined for a World Series championship.
While all eyes were on their starting pitching—namely everyone not named CC Sabathia—it was the offense and their inability to knock in runs and make productive outs that ultimately destroyed their chances to advance.
Make no mistake about it—there is plenty of blame to go around, and it's not all on Alex Rodriguez.
But the ALDS did have some bright spots for the Yankees.
Let's take a look at some of the positives that they can hopefully carry over and build on heading into next year.
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No, I cannot believe that I'm writing about A.J. Burnett in a positive light either.
But Burnett performed admirably and he showed some resilience, something that he seemed to be missing from his repertoire the entire season. The Burnett that the Yankees and their fans had grown accustomed to would have imploded after Victor Martinez homered off of him in the fourth inning of Game 4.
Instead, A.J. buckled down and got the job done.
Even though he issued four walks and a wild pitch, Burnett showed a glimpse of the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they signed him prior to the 2009 season.
While the team did not end the season on an upswing, Burnett did.
The hope here, obviously, is that he can keep this last start in the back of his mind and his late-season success can carry over to next season.
Burnett getting off to a good start in 2012 will be more important than ever when you consider that both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are not locks to be back in the Bronx.
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Any doubts about Brett Gardner's ability to be an everyday player and where he belongs in the Yankees lineup should now be erased.
Gardner was arguably the team's third best hitter in the ALDS, and four of his five RBI in the series came with two out and at crucial points in games.
His single in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 1 off of Doug Fister scored two, giving the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
In Game 3, his two-run double off of Justin Verlander in the top of the seventh inning tied the game at 4.
Brett Gardner showed that he is a "money" player, someone who can come through in the clutch batting at the bottom of the lineup. His relatively pedestrian regular season statistics of .259 average, .345 OBP and .713 OPS are all numbers that he can certainly be expected to improve upon in 2012.
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Was Ivan Nova really injured in Game 5, or was it Joe Girardi panicking and pulling his young starter too early?
Only Nova and Girardi know for sure, but his shortened outing in Game 5 certainly does not diminish what Nova accomplished in the short series.
In Game 2, Nova outpitched Doug Fister, arguably the hottest pitcher in all of baseball heading into the playoffs, giving the Yankees over six innings of work and only allowing two runs.
Not to "toot" my own horn, but I told you Nova would be the Yankees' most reliable starter in the playoffs over two weeks ago.
The loss he took in Game 5 was his first since June 3, but it does nothing to take away from the outstanding season Nova turned in.
Going forward, the Yankees can rest easy knowing that they have a legitimate No. 3 starter in the rotation, and one who can perform in pressure situations for the foreseeable future.
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If there was ever a doubt that Robinson Cano is far and away the best player on the Yankees, those doubts should be long gone from anyone's mind.
Cano produced one big hit after another, and his six RBI in Game 1 tied a Yankees postseason record for most RBI in one game. He now shares the record with Hideki Matsui (Game 6 of the 2009 World Series), Bernie Williams (Game 1 of the 1999 ALDS) and Bobby Richardson (Game 3 of the 1960 World Series).
Cano has taken the next step from "great" player to "elite" player, not only in the American League but in all of baseball.
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Apparently Jorge Posada never got the memo that said he was washed up.
In what is sure to be his last appearance as an active player in pinstripes, Jorge turned back the clock not only providing timely hitting, but hitting the ball with authority.
His .429 average and 1.150 OPS were his highest in the postseason since the 2006 ALDS, which was also against the Detroit Tigers, and his .579 OBP was the highest he ever had in the postseason.
It's unfortunate that the Yankees lost, but Posada went out swinging and there's something fitting about that ending to his Yankee career.