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July 5, 2005

Half-season Yankee report cards - Offense
by SG

Yesterday's 13-8 win over Baltimore was the Yankees' 81st game of the year. WIth the season now officially half over, I thought it would be a good time to run down what the Yankee players have done so far this year. I'll look at the position players today, and the pitchers tomorrow, hopefully. In addition the the rate stats for AVG, OBP, and SLG, I'll list their EQA, VORP, FRAR, and WARP1.(Thanks to Baseball Prospectus for these stats)


Alex Rodriguez(.319/.417/.570)
EQA: .342
VORP: 43.4
WARP1: 4.2

I think most would agree that Rodriguez's first year in pinstripes was a bit of a disappointment. This year, he's been the hitter the Yankees hoped they were getting, and probably the front runner for MVP if Brian Roberts remembers that he's Brian Roberts. He's getting clutch hits, which people villified him for not getting last year, and after a rough stretch to start the year is finally playing good defense again. The early defensive struggles knock his grade down a bit, but you can't be anything but happy with his performance this year, and anyone that blames him for the Yankees' uneven play this year is just flat out wrong. This is the best player on this team, and probably the best player most of us will ever see in Yankee pinstripes. Instead of criticizing his faults, enjoy his play.

Grade: A-

Hideki Matsui(.312/.379/.510)

EQA: .314
VORP: 30.0
FRAR: CF: 2, LF: 7
WARP1: 3.9

Matsui has had an extremely streaky season. After a hot start to the season, his bat disappeared. It's back now, and his numbers are back up to respectable. His defense still remains suspect, particularly in left field, but he's rebounded to be a key member of this team. The Yankees should have probably re-signed him when he was slumping, because his asking price is going up every day.

Grade: B+

Derek Jeter(.303/.392/.444)

EQA: .306
VORP: 34.5
FRAR: 16
WARP1: 4.5

Jeter has had another good season, getting his average and his OBP back up from last season. Unfortunately, last year's power spike has not returned. Statistically he has regressed somewhat from last year defensively, but he is still above where he was in 2002-2003. For a guy who's lauded as clutch, he sure has seemed to make a lot of the last outs in games this season. I say this not to denigrate Jeter, but to point out that the clutch myth is often applied arbitrarily and erroneously. I'd like to see a bit more power out of Jeter, but not if it comes at the expense of his OBP, especially as the leadoff hitter.

Grade: B+

Gary Sheffield(.297/.393/.502)

EQA: .317
VORP: 28.3
WARP1: 4.0


Gary Sheffield is remarkably consistent. His power is down slightly this year, but not hugely so. He's getting to the age now where he could fall off a cliff at any time, but I don't see any signs of it. His defense is still uninspired, and he still sometimes talks too much to the media, but he's had a fine season so far, and there's no reason to think it won't continue.

Grade: B+

Robinson Cano(.291/.319/.472)

EQA: .279
VORP: 11.7
FRAR: 2.5
WARP1: 14

Cano has been a huge addition to the Yankee lineup. As a 22 year old who is playing above average defense and slugging .472, he has been a big upgrade over the incumbent who started the year at second base. His P/PA is only 2.88, which means he's probably still a little too aggressive, and long-term I'd probably like to see him walking a bit more, but I think that will come with time. After starting the season 2-24, Cano is batting .318/.375/.500, and likely cemented himself as the starter at second for the rest of the season. Ignore the mediots talking about him being traded, he's not going anywhere.

Grade: B+

Jason Giambi(.258/.415/.400)

EQA: .296
VORP: 11.1
FRAR: -3
WARP1: 1.1

With a huge 2 HR game yesterday, Giambi continues to show signs of life. It is even more impressive when you look at his splits from the beginning of the season to now. Picking arbitrary endpoints to look at statistics is not really good sabermetrics, but in Giambi's case, it is interesting. Through May 9, in 27 games, Giambi hit .195/.386/.325. In the 37 games since then, he's hitting .301/.455/.451. You can't throw out the first 27 games, but you can hope there were extenuating circumstances that caused him to struggle. Coming off a basically lost season and a pituitary tumor, it's very possible that he was still getting comfortable again. Being off steroids has likely been a big physical and psychological adjustment. It certainly appears that some power has gone and is not likely to come back, but there's no way to say that he should not be playing every day. The defensive numbers are pretty ugly.

Grade: B

Tino Martinez(.222/.319/.467)

EQA: .281
VORP: 7.3
WARP1: 1.1

Another player whose best days are behind him, Tino has struggled outside of a hot streak where he homered in 8 straight games. He's been injured so he doesn't play much these days, but he is still a capable defensive replacement. The importance of his hot streak in the middle of a 10 game winning streak should not be forgotten if the Yankees end up playing meaningful games in September. Without Tino in that streak, the Yankees probably don't win more than 5 of them.

Grade: B-

Jorge Posada(.269/.363/.433)

EQA: .292
VORP: 20.8
FRAR: 12
WARP1: 2.9

Posada's been a bit of a disappointment this year. His SLG has dropped about 50 pts from last year, but it's not the HRs that are missing, it's the doubles. His average is still ok, and his OBP is still decent. He's certainly at the age that a decline is possible, especially for a catcher. Good thing the Yankees traded Dioner Navarro, huh?

Grade: C

Bernie Williams (.259/.345/.381)

EQA: .274
VORP: 9.4
WARP1: 1.6

Bernie's decline has been one of the most oft-repeated stories this season, Particulary glaring on defense, but it's shown up in his offense as well. He's had a few big moments this year, but for the most part the run is over. If you're a Yankee fan, it's a bit sad to see. Hopefully this year won't tarnish a great legacy, and the fans let him know how much they appreciate what he's done for this team since 1991.

Grade: C-

Ruben Sierra (.238/.267/.405)

EQA: .235
VORP: -0.7
WARP1: .1

Sierra's basically been reduced to Tony Womack's pinch-hitter at this point. He can still hit Steve Kline, but that's about it. He's not really capable of playing in the outfield much, but there are worse bench players, I guess.

Grade: D

Russ Johnson(.250/.333/.375)

EQA: .261
VORP: 0.6
WARP1: .1

He's a former Devil Ray. The Devil Rays determined that he was not capable of playing baseball anymore. Why is he on the Yankee bench? Anyone?

Grade: D

John Flaherty(.183/.222/.217)

EQA: .138
VORP: -4.1
FRAR: -3
WARP1: -0.9

Flaherty's never been much of a hitter, and it's gotten worse this year. Pitchers seem to like working with him though, and he doesn't get enough playing time to be a problem. With the lack of depth at catcher in the organization, I can't get too worked up about him being on the team.

Grade: D

Rey Sanchez(.229/.258/.398)

EQA: .227
VORP: -0.8
WARP1: .3

There's not much to say about Sanchez, except that since he got hurt he hasn't been missed.

Grade: F

Tony Womack (.244/.277/.268)

EQA: .217
VORP: -8.4
FRAR: LF: 6, CF: 0, 2B: 9
WARP1: 1

Larry covered my thoughts on Womack pretty well here. Fairly or not, Womack has been a whipping boy for a disappointing Yankee team, but he's done what the team has asked him to do, first moving from 2B to LF for Cano, then to CF for Bernie, then to the bench for anyone. I still think he could be useful as a bench player, but I don't know if he would accept the role. He really should never start.

Grade: F-

Bubba Crosby (.250/.294/.250)

EQA: .163
VORP: -1.8
WARP1: 0

Bubba's hustle in yesterday's game was pretty funny, as he hustled himself into an out. He can play a decent (read, better than Bernie) centerfield, but doesn't hit much, and likely never will. Odds are he won't get much playing time over the rest of the season, and with Kevin Thompson and Melky Cabrera both lurking in AAA now, there's a chance he could be out of the organization by next year.

Grade: Incomplete

Andy Phillips(.156/.156/.375)

EQA: .175
VORP: -2.1
WARP1: -0.2

Andy Phillips has not gotten a fair chance to contribute to the Yankees this season. He is killing the ball in Columbus (.331/.394/.629, 14 HRs in 178 AB). With the Womack situation, I never understood why the Yankees didn't try him in left field. Can he possibly be worse out there than Sierra? He's not young, and he's certainly not going to be a star, but he should be on the big league team and getting 2-3 games a week. And not bunting.

Grade: Incomplete

Kevin Reese (.000/.500/.000)

EQA: .301
VORP: -0.0
WARP1: 0

If you blinked, you probably missed him. Odds are he won't be back.

Grade: Incomplete

Yesterday's come from behind win coupled with Keith Foulke's continued ineptness has pulled the Yankees within 4 games. For all the glee that Red Sox fans took about the decline of Mariano, they seem to be getting a glimpse at a true decline now.

That the Yankees are still that close after playing some of the worst baseball imaginable is a bit encouraging, but hopefully it doesn't lead to a misguided move where they trade some of their promising prospects for a band-aid.