Coming into this season, absolutely nobody expected the New York Yankees to succeed as much as they have offensively. Once injuries began to build upon players such as Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Derek Jeter, it was widely thought that they Yankees would even struggle to hit home runs. Yet, just a few games into the season, and they are among the MLB’s leaders in team home runs. But what has been the cause for this power surge?
After a slow first few games of the season, Robinson Cano has been one of the hottest players in baseball, hitting three home runs in his past two games. This should not come as a surprise to anybody because Cano has always been able to hit home runs. But what has helped him is the fact that he has been batting second in the lineup. Assuming that Brett Gardner gets on base, pitchers must throw Cano fastballs due to the threat of Gardner stealing a base. We all know that Cano is a tremendous fastball hitter, so he takes advantage of each one he gets. It also doesn’t hurt that he has Kevin Youkilis batting behind him, who has also been impressive early on.
Speaking of Youkilis, he currently leads the team in batting average with a .367, and has a hit in each game that the Yankees have played so far this year. Youkilis’s fast start has attributed to the Yankees success as well. He is also tied for the second most home runs on the team along with a few other players, with two. The Yankees hope that his hot start lasts, as he is one of the prime factors leading to Cano’s recent hot streak.
The other players that the Yankees have gotten power from have been some of the more unlikely players.
Vernon Wells, who with his decline over recent years, was not expected to do well with the team at all. He was mostly seen as a stop-gap in the outfield until Granderson returns from injury. However, his improved swing mechanics have seemingly given him a bit of a rejuvenation. The same holds true for Travis Hafner, who had a terrible Spring Training, and was predicted by many people to have an absolutely terrible season with the Yankees.
Going back to last season, people clamored for the Yankees to stop hitting so many home runs, but even though they are currently among the league leaders, few people are complaining. There is a big reason for this.
Essentially, the biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s is that the 2013 Yankees do not rely on the home run, unlike the 2012 team. In every game that the Yankees have played, win or lose, they have shown flashes of pure baseball offensively. They are getting on base, going from first to third, hitting with runners in scoring position, and just having more success at the plate in general.
Part of me does not even want the injured players to return because of the success that the offense has had so far. However, I realize that the injured players are a core part of the team’s success, and will be played extensively once they come back. But for now, we can at least enjoy an offense that we haven’t seen in a few years – one that doesn’t rely on the home run.