New York Yankees: Grading Each Position Player's Spring Training Performance
With their final official spring game under their belt, the New York Yankees are heading into Opening Day with a roster full of uncertainty.
Even more pressing are the injuries to major players and the heavy reliance on old players past their primes.
Nonetheless,like all of the other teams across major league baseball, it’s time to grade each position player's performance.
For the New York regulars, much of their spring was spent healing, getting injured or tearing up the World Baseball Classic.
But there were still important position battles to be won, and whether Yankee fans believe it or not, the world will go on without Derek Jeter.
Going into the spring with a big opportunity to win the starting role, Francisco Cervelli didn’t exactly win the job.
He had a mediocre spring thus far and he hasn’t done anything special enough to put him far ahead of Chris Stewart.
With what will probably be a split platoon catching this season, it was somewhat of a success for Cervelli.
Not good, but not bad.
For not being a offensive-minded catcher, Chris Stewart had a relatively solid spring camp.
Stewart has a .233 average and has six runs batted in this spring.
It was a solid spring for the perennial backup catcher who is making a run for the starting spot.
Stewart went in as a backup with a chance to start, but now he is a platoon starter with a chance to win the everyday job.
Pretty good spring for the journeyman catcher.
Mark Teixeira was hurt before he even made it to spring training.
His injury could end up being a big blow to New York, especially if it’s worse than originally perceived.
But if the World Baseball Classic counted as a basis to grade players, Robinson Cano would get an A+.
Cano simply tore up the international competition and led his Dominican Republic team to a WBC title.
During the WBC, Cano hit .469 with two home runs and six runs batted in.
Even though Cano is in camp with the team now, he missed most of spring training, thus he misses a grade.
But man, he sure tore it up in the WBC.
We all know Derek Jeter is a tough, gritty competitor—a fighter of sorts, but in a good way.
This spring has made it clearer than ever that Jeter is losing the battle with father time.
Granted, Jeter is on a newly surgically repaired ankle and still recovering, his age is a little more evident, his face is a little bit more full and he's a little slower.
In only 11 at-bats this spring Jeter has a .273 average and a .333 on-base percentage.
Although these numbers aren’t terrible, it’s not the above-.300 Jeter we’ve seen the past two springs.
Understandably he was taking it slow with the ankle, but Jeter didn’t look too great this spring.
Kevin Youkilis is having one of the best springs of his career.
Youkilis is hitting .267 with five home runs and 13 runs batted in.
He looks good at both third and first base,and has dealt extremely well with the fans and media from New York.
It’s tough to say Youkilis’ success was a surprise seeing as he is a proven veteran, but if spring is any indication, Youkilis may have returned to form.
Unfortunately for Eduardo Nunez, he has been stuck in the limbo between Jeter, Cano and Alex Rodriguez for longer than anyone cares to remember.
This spring with all of the injuries for New York, Nunez has gotten a lot of opportunity to earn a spot.
He has driven in four runs, stolen six bases and has a .273 average—Nunez knows how to hit.
It’s keeping the ball in his glove and helmet on his head that Nunez struggles to do.
Nunez has three errors playing 20 games at shortstop, which isn’t a horrific but a concerning problem.
Nonetheless, Nunez has shown mainly with his bat and speed that he deserves a spot on the roster.
All the skepticism about Ichiro Suzuki’s two-year deal was quashed, at least for the spring.
Ichiro has been one of the most consistent Yankees this spring with a .306 average and a .358 on-base percentage.
It’s true that he is part of the 37-and-older club in the Bronx, but thus far he seems to be doing the best of the group of older players.
If New York wants to stay above .500 this year, Ichiro will need to continue this level of production.
Brett Gardner is having the best spring training of his career.
The outfielder is hitting .306 with a .386 OBP and has scored six runs.
His stats are surprisingly similar to Ichiro’s, and that’s something to get excited about because Gardner possesses much more explosive speed than Ichiro.
Gardner is in his prime and he’s showing what New York missed for most of last season.
Much like Ichiro, how strongly Gardner plays will undoubtedly have an effect on how well the Yankees do.
Now this grade is determined on the mixture of spring training with Los Angeles and New York.
Vernon Wells was having a spectacular spring with L.A., hitting .361 with a .390 OBP.
Added on to those stats are Wells’ four home runs and 11 runs batted in.
Compared to the averages of the position players for New York, Wells blows them away.
GM Brian Cashman is hoping Wells continues this level of play.
If he can, the trade for Wells will turn out to be a determining factor for the Yankees' success Yankees this year.
Travis Hafner was brought into the Yankees organization to do one thing: Hit.
And that has been the one thing Hafner hasn’t done much of this spring.
Hafner has a lowly .195 average with 12 strikeouts, and get this—his on-base percentage is almost down .100 points from the past two springs.
Being a veteran, Hafner gets a bit of a pass since this is not his first rodeo.
But right now this move to bring in the lefty DH is questionable at best.
The quick pace at which Cashman scooped up Brennan Boesch from Detroit should show at least a small glimpse of how much the Yankees think of the outfielder.
Boesch was struggling mightily in spring camp with Detroit, but since joining the Bombers in Tampa things have turned around.
In only six games Boesch has a home run, three runs batted in and only three strikeouts.
By no means did Boesch come in and wow anyone, but he certainly should earn a spot on the bench.
Borderline bad start, but still good enough to be in contention to make an impact on the team.