Early Season Returns on Some Former Yankees

CBSsports.com

CBSsports.com

We have reached the point in the season where there is much ado about the current crop of Yankees free agent additions. Is Jacoby Ellsbury a bust? Is Masahiro Tanaka this amazing? Will Brian McCann remember how to hit? Can Carlos Beltran stay healthy? I may be a bit too generous in suggesting that those questions did not begin after the first few games of the season, considering how quickly New York fans and media get antsy – but I think it is more than fair to use the turn of the calendar to June as an opportunity to gauge how players are performing. Of course, most of the players I’ve mentioned already have been discussed quite a bit, and I see no reason to dive back into that fray. Instead, I’m curious to see how the other half is living nowadays, by checking in with the players that left the Yankees for greener pastures this past off-season.

Robinson Cano – .327/.371/.420, 24 R, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 4 SB, 115 wRC+, 1.1 bWAR, 1.1 fWAR

To say that Cano’s power has been nonexistent this season would be a mild understatement – his .093 ISO is a career-worst by a significant margin, and places him 153rd among 175 qualified batters (tied with Elvis Andrus, and just behind Dee Gordon). Everything else is more or less status quo for Cano, however, as his walk (7.1%), strikeout (11.6%), and contact rates (85.2%) are right in-line with his career norms. He is flashing significantly more power on the road (.133 ISO, against a .043 mark at home), but he has yet to show the over-the-fence form that the Mariners were expecting.

Curtis Granderson – .200/.319/.347, 24 R, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 2 SB, 93 wRC+, 1.3 bWAR, 0.6 fWAR

Granderson’s performance with the Mets thus far is strikingly similar to his poor, injury-shortened 2013 with the Yankees. His power is down (which is unsurprising, considering the move from lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium to pitcher-friendly Citi Field), and his walks are a bit up, but the numbers are still quite comparable. Every defensive metric sees his transition to right field as very smooth, which helps his WAR total hide the fact that his offense is essentially limited to getting on-base at a non-embarrassing rate. He is hitting .227/.397/.409 over the last two weeks, so a breakout may be coming – he is clearly in decline, though.

Lyle Overbay – .211/.293/.312, 13 R, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 65 wRC+, -0.4 bWAR, -0.5 fWAR

I wanted to brush Overbay off with a snarky comment, as it seems fitting. Then I realized that he somehow wrangled 486 PA last season, and has once again found himself in a semi-regular role despite being no better than replacement-level over the last three-plus seasons. Overbay is proof-positive that a left-handed hitter with the ability to work the count and competently man a position will continue to get chances in the Majors ad nauseum.

Mark Reynolds – .205/.282/.440, 21 R, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB, 96 wRC+, 0.7 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR

Despite spending part of this young season as a platoon player, Reynolds sits tied for seventh in the Majors in home runs (with David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez). Despite sky-high strikeout rates (33.0% on the year) and little more than passable defense at first, Reynolds remains a useful player in a league that is seemingly bereft of power. I imagine a world where he and Juan Francisco (hat tip for our podcast listeners) platoon at one of the infield corners, and life is wonderful.

Joba Chamberlain – 23.1 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 11.2 K/9, 2.70 ERA, 1.61 FIP, 0.6 bWAR, 0.8 fWAR

If there is such a thing as ‘vintage Joba,’ Tigers fans are enjoying it right now. The former top prospect is showing the form that excited Yankees fans in 2007 and 2008, and it isn’t difficult to imagine the 28-year-old continuing to dominate out of the bullpen. He is throwing his fastball less than he ever has before, instead relying on his slider and curveball in about 53% of his offerings. I don’t know if this would or could have happened in the Bronx, but Chamberlain will always have a special place in my heart.

Phil Hughes – 69.1 IP, 1.0 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 3.12 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 1.9 bWAR, 2.1 fWAR

I touched on Hughes’ rebirth a bit in yesterday’s game thread, and there isn’t all that much to add. Hughes was quite good yesterday, holding the Yankees to only five baserunners and two runs over eight innings – and his two walks marked the first time in nine starts that he walked more than one batter, and snapped his streak of six straight starts without issuing a free pass. Aside from the jaw-dropping control, this is the same Hughes that we came to know and lament – a model that is unfortunately incompatible with Yankee Stadium.

Boone Logan – 15.0 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 12.6 K/9, 5.40 ERA, 4.73 FIP, -0.4 bWAR, -0.1 fWAR

Logan’s move to Colorado has made him Bizarro Hughes, as the homer-prone left specialist has found Coors Field to be as unforgiving as advertised. He has allowed four bombs for a tidy 2.4 HR/9 on a staggering 40.0% HR/FB – a number that is likely to regress, to be fair, yet remains hilarious today. Logan remains semi-passable against RHH this season (.757 OPS), but lefties have battered him to the tune of a 1.033 OPS thus far.

Domenic is a staff writer for It's About the Money, and the host of the It's About the Yankees Stupid podcast. By day, he is a mild-mannered real estate attorney on Long Island.

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