We’re a little bit past the quarter pole in the season and it’s a good time to look at how guys are measuring up to the pre-season expectations. Let’s start with the outfielders:
- Brett Gardner: Going into the season, we pretty much agreed that BG needed a .330ish OBP in order to be effective. He’s outperforming that goal with a .339 OBP, a .416 slugging and 9 steals. He’s been pretty much what we expected and seems to be improving. Add better than expected range (sick +20.9 UZR/150) and much better arm to that and you get a B+.
- Melky: Leading the team in batting average (.323), getting clutch hits like crazy, showing greatly improved range (+19.2 UZR/150), and generally outperforming all projections (ZiPS projected a .725 OPS and he’s currently OPSing a tidy .849. Most impressive has been his consistency, which earns him a clear A+.
- Johnny Damon: OPS+ of 139 (his highest mark ever for a full season is 118). At age 35, he’s clearly outperforming the standard projections which have him beginning to decline. Normally, a player who uses his legs as much as he does will exhibit a sharp decline right about now, but he’s raised his power to compensate for the dropoff in speed (only 5 steals so far). His range, however, continues to deteriorate it left (-9.5 UZR/150) dropping him to an A from a possible A+.
- Nick Swisher: Can you say streaky? He went from putting up MVP type numbers to a .223 average in seemingly no-time. His OPS+ of 119 is still very nice (and in-line with career averages before last year) but that average is scary-bad and it dropped so quickly! His defense is pretty average in Right where he’s spent most of his time. He gets bumped to a B/B+ because he really carried the Yanks in the early-going when no one else was contributing.
- Hideki Matsui: ZiPS had Godzilla at an .844 OPS clip and he comes close to this, with an .829. A 114 OPS+ is not too shabby. It seems as if injuries have wreaked havoc with the 35-year-old as he alternates between looking like the old Matsui and looking like Kaz Matsui, so I have to give him a C- for not consistently giving the team what they need.
What do you guys think of the grades? Are they fair, too positive, too negative? What would you give them? Infielders are next tomorrow.