Grading the Yankees: Phil Hughes
By Benjamin Orr
What 2012 showed us was a New York Yankees‘ rotation that clearly defined itself early on. Phil Hughes was a huge part of this rotation and may actually be the recipient of some unnoticed credit. That said, Hughes was not perfect, he struggled against right-handed batting and still had a pretty bloated ERA over 4.00. It’s no secret that Hughes still had kinks to work out from 2011’s struggle of a season, but in 2012, Hughes did pitch the most innings in his career.
While most people will say that Hughes had a lukewarm season in 2012, I tend to think otherwise. Maybe it’s just my bias toward Hughes, but I think 2012 showed us something in him that the Yankees will want heading into 2013. Also, don’t forget to check out the other graded Yankees in the Grading the Yankees series.
For Hughes, 2012 was his strongest season by far. Okay, let’s get the 4.23 ERA and 1.26 WHIP out of the way and now. Hughes had obviously struggles with righties, who had a .308/.342/.586 slash line against him. Of the 101 runs Hughes gave up, 71 came off right-handed batters.
Phil Hughes pitched pretty well in the postseason this year. (Image: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
On the flip-side of that, Hughes was much better, though not perfect, against left-handed batters. A .211/.270/.340 slash line is what left-handers registered off Hughes. The .270 on base percentage is a little concerning as he did walk 29 left-handers as opposed to 17 righties. Other than that difference, Hughes faced more left-handed batting than right-handed and had better numbers in every category, including runners caught stealing.
Another instance that can be taken away from 2012 is that Hughes started the season the exactly same way he ended it, rough. He was able to balance out his pitching once June hit. From there, Hughes truly stepped up to be the type of pitcher this rotation needed with an ailing CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte and an Ivan Nova who forgot how to pitch. June was by far Hughes’ best month as he went 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA, 32 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched with only eight walks.
Taking a look at his overall 2012 stats, Hughes had a pretty significant year. He pitched 191.1 innings in 2012 which is the most innings pitched in any of the years he’s been up here. 2010 marked the last time Hughes’ made a huge impact in the rotation — he won 18 games that season. As it stands, Hughes went 16-13 on the year with the ERA and WHIP mentioned above. He struck out 165 batters, walked 46 and allowed a harsh 35 home runs. He even had a 1.5 WAR if you’re into that at all.
- Makes excellent effort
- Uses skills taught
- Takes pride in work
- Attitude shows improvement
B- – Overall Hughes made use of his arm and was able to go the distance in a lot of games this year. 2012 marked the second year in a row where Hughes would throw a complete game and for him to go that far means a lot to this pitching staff. There is much work for Hughes to do in the offseason and even into 2013. His command has gotten better as he’s found confidence in his fastball and change-up. However his lack to pitch well against right-handed batters is a tad concerning. For a more in-depth look on Hughes’, here’s a link to an article I wrote at the end of September on him. Even with that, it still doesn’t change my grade for Hughes. He’s a solid part of this rotation and may play a huge role in the future.