Searching for Positives on the 2016 Yankees
As a Yankees fan who conveniently came of age at the start of the Dynasty in 1996, it is unsettling to watch what is currently unfolding in the Bronx. There is no denying it. With two months in the books, the New York Yankees have been downright bad, and there are few reasons to think that will change any time soon.
The recent outpouring of pessimism about the team from writers and fans is certainly warranted. There have been very few things to get excited about while watching the 2016 Yankees. However, there are a handful of reasons to not give up hope completely about the immediate future of the club, and even the remainder of this season. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury looks like the team’s best position player again. I guess this could also be seen as a bad thing, but if he’s going to be paid like a superstar over the next five years, it would be nice if he could approximate the production of one. Right now he leads the team with 1.0 fWAR, and has been solid on both sides of the ball after a rough start. With a team-leading 148 wRC+ in May (among players with 50 PA minimum), this is the hottest we’ve seen Jake in a while. He’s even swiped a very encouraging 11 bags this year, which may mean he’s finally healthy and feeling like his old self. The team’s offense literally starts with him for the foreseeable future. If he can keep this up, it is something to build around.
2. They have the three best relievers on the planet. The problem is that if there are no leads for this trio to protect, their incredible talents are going to waste. Aside from being incredibly fun to watch in the meantime, the reason they are a bright spot is because the three of them could be used to add a major influx of talent to the farm system this July. Aroldis Chapman is a goner after the season, and rumors flew all winter that the team was shopping Andrew Miller. With his history of injuries and control problems, it may be smart to sell high on Dellin Betances. At 28, he’s hardly a kid any more, and relievers flame out quickly. Just look at the prospect hauls Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles landed their organizations last offseason and multiply that by three.
More from Yankees News
- Yankees top prospects butt heads after Giants’ gritty win over Commanders
- CC Sabathia defends Yankees’ massive Aaron Judge contract
- Scott Boras closed Yankees-Carlos Rodón deal from Fenway Park, put cherry on top
- Orioles are bailing out Yankees and AL East by botching free agency
- Guy who caught Aaron Judge record HR ball cost himself tons of money in auction
3. The rotation remains one of the most talented in the American League. Yankees starters have a league-leading 3.65 xFIP in 2016, a metric which tries to remove bad luck and bad defense from a pitcher’s performance, helping to predict how they will do going forward. The Yankees also rank first with a 3.52 K/BB ratio, another good indicator of future performance. Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, their most consistent starter and a “true” ace no matter what anyone says, New York has seen three consistent starters emerge in the past month in Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova. The struggles of Michael Pineda and Luis Severino are well documented, but the electric stuff of those young pitchers remain undiminished, and either could be a mechanical tweak from returning to their previous dominance. Five of those six starters are under contract through next season, and with that foundation of intriguing arms in place, it’s impossible to count out the Yankees as contenders in 2017.
4. The cavalry is coming. Thursday night, Rob Refsnyder received his second start in three games, an unprecedented show of faith in the controversial prospect. Regardless of the results, it’s encouraging to see him actually getting a chance in the lineup.
Related Story: Yankees Prospect Profile Number 9: Rob Refsnyder
Hopefully, some of his Scranton contemporaries will also receive their shot in the not-too-distant future. Exciting names like Aaron Judge, Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, and Gary Sanchez are right on the edge of big league ready, and Greg Bird will be ready to join them next spring. Until these guys are given a chance, it’s impossible to say what the club has in them. While New York continues to trot out their struggling vets most nights, there are beginning to be signs that Joe Girardi and Co. are willing to experiment. Finally losing may be what the Yankees need to stop trying to scrape a contender from the broken pieces of the last dynasty and let the new order take its place.