COMMENTARY | In 1948, the Boston Braves won the National League pennant and adopted the unofficial mantra "Spain and Sain and pray for rain," referring to aces Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain and an otherwise unspectacular starting rotation.
In 2013, the New York Yankees have been more like, "Cano and Brett and no one else hits."
Brett Gardner, back to full health after missing most of the 2012 season with an elbow injury, has been solid at the top of the Yankees' order, hitting .281/.348/.421 with seven homers and 57 runs scored in 440 plate appearances. He's also stolen a team-high 17 bases.
Robinson Cano, meanwhile, has been his usual All-Star self, and he's done it with little to no protection around him in the batting order. Cano has already been walked 52 times this year, just nine off his career high, and his 14 intentional passes in 2013 matches the career high he set in 2010.
He has 21 homers, 70 RBIs and is hitting .296/.378/.506 in 455 plate appearances.
Thus endeth the Yankees' 2013 offensive highlight reel.
Cano at 141 and Gardner at 111 are the only Yankees regulars with an OPS-plus better than 100, which is considered average.
But they've been the Bronx Bummers just about everywhere else in the order. Through 106 games, the Yankees have been a shell of their usual selves from an injury standpoint. First baseman Mark Teixeira played just 15 games and is out for the rest of the season after having surgery on his balky right wrist. Center fielder Curtis Granderson has played eight games -- he did hit 43 homers a year ago, after all -- with a broken arm and broken pinky and isn't expected back until August.
Shortstop Derek Jeter has played three games because of a broken ankle suffered in last year's playoffs and a strained quad sustained in his first game back off the disabled list before the All-Star break. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez hasn't played a game yet and between his battles with Yankee management and the looming suspension coming from Major League Baseball over his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis mess, it's hard to count on him for much.
Kevin Youkilis, signed in the offseason as a safety net at both third base and first base, has played just 28 games because of back problems and may not be back at all. Backup shortstop Eduardo Nunez has missed 61 games. Catcher Francisco Cervelli won the starting catching job in spring training, played 17 games, broke his hand, had a setback and now may be shut down in the Biogenesis fallout, as well.
What's been left has been, for the most part, a hot mess.
Venerable Ichiro Suzuki's .279/.314/.378 line is far below his career marks of .322/.365/.419 that he had entering the season. Lyle Overbay has been a lifesaver at first base, yet is only hitting .248/.297/.428 and hits lefties at only a .196 clip.
Yankees left fielders, led by Vernon Wells, have hit just .226/.269/.338. The shortstops are at .215/.271/.298 with three homers and 29 RBIs. The third basemen? A major-league worst .215/.274/.286 with four homers and 30 RBIs. Corner infielders are supposed to be a power position; by comparison, the Arizona Diamonbacks' pitchers have out-homered the Yankee third baseman, 5-4.
And the designated hitters have sort of missed on the whole "hitter" thing, combining for a .207/.291/.353 line with 107 strikeouts in 377 at-bats.
Yet there is hope. Alfonso Soriano was acquired from the Chicago Cubs and has had a homer and four RBIs in his first four games back in pinstripes. Jeter is healthy ... finally.
There is enough veteran experience for this team to make a run. They've been there before. They just have to remember how to get back to home plate once they leave it.
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- New York Yankees
- Robinson Cano
- Brett Gardner