Offensively, the New York Yankees have continued their supreme mediocrity. They do, however have a strikeout-heavy pitching staff that has helped keep the team in contention. New York pitchers have by far the best strikeout to walk ratio in Major League Baseball, and have done a surprisingly good job weathering the losses of three starting pitchers. That may not be able to last forever, but with Pineda on his way back soon the team will look solid if the offense can come around.
Yankees batter of the month: Brett Gardner – No batter came to the plate for the Yankees as often as Gardner did. That consistency is in itself important on a team that has dealt with injuries and slumps. On top of that, his impact with his bat and on the base paths was unmatched during the month of May. The Yankees’ leadoff man amassed a surprising 13 RBI in May, and his 13 walks were third on the team behind Mark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury. His speed also helped him to steal six bases and drive a pair of triples in the month. Gardner’s ability to get on base for the Yankees is important. His on-base percentage is almost 70 points higher in team wins than losses.
Yankees pitcher of the month: Masahiro Tanaka – As not only the Yankees’ best pitcher, but one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, Tanaka has been the single most dependable player on the team. Perhaps the only starting pitcher in the American League who had a better month than Tanaka was former Yankee Phil Hughes, but Hughes put up his numbers over 10 less innings and without the sheer dominance of the Yankees’ ace. For perspective on how good he has been, consider that Tanaka’s worst start was a seven inning, three earned run performance. During May, Tanaka faced 168 batters and only allowed 43 of them to earn their way on base. In six starts he only walked six batters, while striking out 42. There has been nothing fluky about Tanaka so far, aside from the fact that he is still a relatively new face in the majors.
Disappointment of the month: Alfonso Soriano – Reaching base safely less than 25 percent of the time is not anywhere near major league quality. Alfonso Soriano continues to look lost at the plate, tying for the fourth most strikeouts in baseball during the month. Worse, Soriano’s 30 strikeouts were accumulated in only 86 plate appearances, and offset by only two walks. Soriano’s best skill is his power, but he is barely out-slugging Gardner. He lacks any complementary abilities to use when his strength is not being shown off.
Pleasant surprise of the month: Dellin Betances – No one on the Yankees’ pitching staff has stepped up like Betances, who pitched 17.1 innings in May with an ERA of just 1.04. Betances has pitched in a lot of close games, and his ability to generate strikeouts have really made a difference when needed. After racking up 28 more strikeouts in May, Betances now has an amazing 56 on the year, in only 32.2 innings. He is on pace for the fifth best strikeouts per 9 innings ratio ever, and is tied for 28th in the league in strikeouts with Minnesota’s Phil Hughes, even as a reliever.
Oddly enough, David Robertson has an even better strikeout rate than Betances, albeit in far fewer innings. The Yankees have been dependent on the punchout, which is not only a benefit to their pitching staff but takes pressure off of their defense as well. One thing that is always in play with New York is a big addition, and there are several major names that appear to be available. If the team hangs close they may look to bring in another player to solidify their roster.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball
Member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America