Found April 27, 2013 on
MLB Injury News:
The New York Yankees should be locked in the cellar. Buried with the old barrels of whiskey and the broken bottles of centuries old wine, the Yankees should be long forgotten. For this season, at least. But they're not. They are hanging in there through the first month of the season. Injuries to key players has yet to bog the team down. They remain one of the main competitors in an ultra-competitive American League East. How the hell is that possible?!
Let's rattle off some names:
These are the names of injured Yankees, names that could and should make a difference on a roster. Rodriguez may not play this year, Teixeira still doesn't have a timetable, Jeter refused to talk about his return date, Granderson is hoping to return next month, Nova may have hurt his elbow, Pineda probably won't pitch this season (again), and Cervelli will be out six weeks. Ouch. Yet, the Yankees are above .500 and within striking distance of first place.
Of course it's April 27th and no one really cares about the standings on April 27th (except maybe Joe Posnanski), but we look at them. We wonder, could this last? Will team A be this good in five months? Will team B make a run? How the heck could team C be this bad? The standings are there from game one, but they are meaningless until late in the season, right? Perhaps not. Perhaps the Yankees maintaining a solid footing in the AL East in the early parts of the season is meaningful. But the question is; how are they doing it?
They aren't doing it with pitching. The team ranks 16th in team ERA, 20th in WHIP, and 25th in batting average against. So maybe it's the hitting? Yep, it's the hitting. The Yankees rank third in all of baseball with a .425 slugging percentage. They rank seventh in batting average to boot. So, somehow, New York is hitting the ball, and when they hit the ball it's traveling far. Like home runs far.
New York is second in home runs behind the Atlanta Braves. They are way down on the totem pole in triples and doubles, so the Yankees are living by the long ball. And they can probably do that. New York's new Yankee Stadium is conducive to home runs. In the four seasons since it has open (not including this year), New Yankee Stadium has helped the Yankees lead all of baseball in home runs three times. They finished third in their off year.
Injuries can decimate a team, but timely hitting can overcome all. Long balls are almost always timely. Whether there is someone on base or not, the home run can create momentum, it can bring a rally, and it can win a game. New York is absolutely relying on the home run to keep them alive, but that's a dangerous game to play. When the home runs dry up, where will the Yankees be left? Possibly in the cold dark cellar where many predicted they would finish.
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Ivan Nova (Photo credit: Keith Allison)
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