By Sweeny Murti
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Yankees at the break? How's best record in baseball sound?
Some things to think about as the Yankees get ready for the second half:
Keep Doing What You're Doing: Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Rafael Soriano, and Joe Girardi.
Cano did next to nothing in April, still hadn't gotten hot in May, and then took off in June. Hit the break roughly on pace for 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. One of the best hitters in the game, plain and simple.
Jeter hasn't hit over .300 in the first half since 2009. Sure, he cooled off in June, but it's still a better start than most would have thought, even with last year's strong finish.
Granderson's average is below what it should be, but he's still among league leaders in home runs and walks. Needs to hit a little better, but consider he's also been in the field for all but two games this year with a lot of ground to cover between Swisher and Ibanez/Jones.
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Soriano has seamlessly moved into the closer's role. This should not be a surprise. The Yankees weren't paying him all that money to pitch the 7th inning. He was Mariano Insurance. This is what he's getting paid for, and he's doing it superbly.
Girardi gets blasted on Twitter every night, usually for no good reason. Think about this: Sub-par first half numbers from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, extremely disappointing numbers from Russell Martin, a long team-wide slump with runners in scoring position, and injuries ranging from mildly disabling to ghastly (CC Sabathia, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, Mariano Rivera)…I'd say Girardi has done a pretty good job to get this team to the break as the leader of the pack.
I'll put the quintet of Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, DeWayne Wise, and Jayson Nix in this category too. Whether playing time has come in extended periods or short bursts, they have all come through with big hits and big plays throughout the first half.
Nick Swisher is roughly on pace for the same type of numbers he's put up every year.
Also, the bullpen combo of Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley have been the biggest surprise contributors.
Pick It Up Boys: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Russell Martin.
Teixeira endured coughing fits that turned into a mysterious illness that no doubt affected his first half performance. He appears healthier for the last month or so, which means he needs a stronger second half. Still on pace for 100 RBIs.
A-Rod hasn't had one legitimate hot streak. He thinks one's coming, so do Kevin Long and Joe Girardi. They better be right. He has fulfilled the "stay healthy" part, but needs a big second half to give him some respectable numbers and strengthen the middle of the order.
Martin's batting average has been under .200 for all but 18 days this year. He finished the first half in a 1-for-32 slump. He did suffer from some back issues that cost him some playing time, but even after he came back they may be contributing to an ineffective swing. The Yankees don't need a .300 hitter behind the plate, but they need more than this.
Cory Wade was in the "Keep Doing" category until June came around, now he falls onto this list or off it altogether since his horrible month forced the Yankees to send him to the minors. Boone Logan was cruising for a while too, but a bump in the road knocks him down to "Pick It Up" status.
Give Me a C! (For Consistency): Every member of the Yankee rotation has suffered through bouts of inconsistency, which shouldn't be that unusual, I guess. But it stands out nonetheless.
Sabathia is so good his bad games aren't all that bad, which is why he's CC Sabathia.
Hiroki Kuroda overcame a rough start, but after getting knocked around Fenway last Friday night I still have a little doubt about his ability to pitch inside the AL East (6.94 ERA in 4 starts against division opponents this year).
Phil Hughes is light years better than last year. We are getting a good look at what he can do when healthy. Too bad he hasn't perfected CC's ability to limit damage.
Ivan Nova had a terrible spring and nearly as bad a start to the regular season. Better now, and keeps on winning.
Freddy Garcia's arm was dead in April and it showed. He is very much alive now, and if he makes starts like his last two before the break, the Yankees will be thrilled.
Andy Pettitte—hurry back. Everybody misses you.
The Yankees are comfortably in front in the AL East as they enter the second half of play. Somehow, I sense not everybody is feeling all that comfortable about it though.
Stay tuned. That's why it's called a pennant race.
Your thoughts on the Bombers at the break? Let us know in the comments below!
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