Poll: Which player have the Yankees missed the most this season?

Yankees take third straight from Blue Jays on Soriano's late homer
Yankees place Jayson Nix on DL, recall Preston Claiborne

The Yankees need all the wins they can get at this point.  On Tuesday, they managed to grab two against the Blue Jays.  Around the fifth or six inning of the second game in the doubleheader, Michael Kay sparked a discussion about who the Yankees missed most this season.  The players to choose from were Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, or Kevin Youkilis.  Now upon hearing this question, the answer seemed fairly obvious to me – that is to say, Derek Jeter.  Of course, that didn’t stop Michael Kay from picking a different (and rather unexpected) option, Mark Teixeira, and sparking a conversation between me and several others on Twitter.  So here we are; let’s dissect.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Derek Jeter

Jeter has been the Captain of this team for quite some time, and for a reason.  He’s been a historically great player, and even in his sunset years still remains a legitimate upgrade over the other options accessible to the Yankees at this time.  To put this in perspective, last season, Derek batted .316/.362/.429 (.347 wOBA, 117 wRC+) over 159 games.  As a bonus, he provided the team with 15 homeruns and a 3.1 fWAR season.  The Captain is known for putting the ball in play and has a reputation for timely hitting (though that concept is a discussion for another day).  The fielding metrics are generally unkind to Jeter, and depending on which metric you prefer, they can be downright ugly.  That’s not a surprise though.  I think everyone views Jeter as a “bat first” type of shortstop.  For what it’s worth, ZiPS had Jeter producing a .703 OPS (.311 wOBA, 1.7 fWAR) over 120 games played this season.  Obviously, it’s a moot point now.

In any event, compare Jeter’s numbers from last season (if you’re feeling optimistic) or the ZiPS projection for this season (if you’re feeling more bearish) to the alternatives, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix.  Both Nunez and Nix have their moments (Nix as recently as Tuesday), but one would be hard pressed to make the case that either player should be a full time starter, let alone a sufficient replacement to Derek Jeter. Neither player is even in shouting distance of Jeter if he replicates his 2012 numbers.  Nunez has the slight edge over Nix (+12 in wRC+), but is still about 45 points lower than what Jeter was last year.  Jeter would still have to fall approximately 25 points in wOBA, if his 2013 ZiPS projection ended up being accurate, to match Nunez’s current contributions. Even in Jeter’s 2010 campaign, which was a terrible year by his standards, Nunez still falls short by about 20 points of wRC+.  Now to be fair, one stat is not the end all of player analysis (nor should it be), but I think some of these metrics offer a convenient snap shot of the offensive gap between a fill-in shortstop against what we, as fans, have been used to seeing on a daily basis for the last decade or so.

So if the currently-injured Nix and Nunez can’t hit like Jeter, perhaps they make up the difference in runs defensively.  Well, that’s the theory anyway.  Unfortunately for Nunez, defensive metrics tend to rate him basically as gruesomely as they do the Captain.  Nix on the other hand, is a bit more positive in this regard.  Are the runs prevented by Nix enough to offset the difference in runs created by Jeter though?  Not really.

Kevin Youkilis

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

If you don’t want to vote for Jeter, I see the logic in voting for Kevin Youkilis, at least from a more macro level.  We’re all aware of how dismal the Yankees third baseman have been this season (and for a brief period, Youkilis contributed to those shortcomings).  Despite A-Rod’s contributions over the past couple weeks, the team still ranks in the bottom six of all Major League Baseball (-0.5 fWAR collectively) in terms of production from this position.  The group of fill-ins for A-Rod have shown very little patience at the plate (6.1 BB%) and have struck out often (24.9 K%).  The Yankee third basemen have produced 8 (!) home runs all year.  We’re talking .259 wOBA, 56 wRC+ bad.

Hypothetically, if we pretend Youkilis wasn’t injured all year (which in itself involves a stretch of the imagination) and performed similarly to last year (which I’m also dubious about given how fried he looked when he was playing early on this season), that would still represent a definitive upgrade over what the team has had.  Over 509 plate appearances in 2012, Youk smashed 19 long balls, walked 10% of the time and struck out 21.2% of the time.  More importantly though, his offensive contributions were basically league average overall (103 wRC+) despite his noticeable splits.  League average isn’t necessarily a desirable or complimentary trait, but it sure as hell wins out over the abysmal production the Yankees have experienced — especially considering it was a last minute desperation move in the offseason.

This same logic applies to Alex Rodriguez as well, now that he has returned.  Drama aside, he’s basically an average third baseman at this point (though he does account for 25% of the team’s home runs this season among third basemen after only 12 games played).  No one expected a return of Alex’s MVP days, but even a replacement level third baseman marks a huge upgrade in terms of production over the course of a season compared to what the team has had.  If the Yankees had had Jeter or A-Rod all year, the offensive boost would be fairly substantial considering they were going from basically nothing at all to something that is closer to resembling acceptable big league production.  We’ve witnessed over the past few days how the lineup has basically felt completely different; it’s transformed into something much more formidable.  It’s much deeper now than it has been all season and the results speak for themselves — a two run deficit is no longer instant loss.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Mark Teixeira

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I do believe Tex is a superior player to both Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds — both offensively and defensively — despite the fact that his stats have been on the decline for the past few seasons.  That said, Overbay has been an adequate fill-in this season, generally speaking.  Over 409 plate appearances, Overbay has hit 13 home runs and batted .254/.304/.421 (.317 wOBA, 96 wRC+ — good for a 0.5 fWAR).  He’s had some timely hits and appears competent with the glove.  With Reynolds complementing the first base platoon now, the offensive production from this spot in the lineup is that much more complete.

The 2012 season was probably Tex’s worst year professionally since his debut year with the Rangers, and most certainly was his worst season with the Yankees since he joined the team in 2009.  Even still, he managed to hit 24 dingers, walked 10.3% of the time (patience that would be highly desirable in this year’s lineup) and produced a .345 wOBA (116 wRC+).  Additionally, his glove is somewhere in the average to very good range depending on which metrics you trust.  He’s better than what the Yankees have deployed these past several months undoubtedly.  But the gap in total production just isn’t as severe.  Going forward, perhaps it could become as severe as the gap between the shortstop and third base replacements compared with the respective starters if Overbay and Reynolds both slide in performance, but right now that seems to be the least of the priorities.  Perhaps one underrated point for Teixeira is that he (sort of) theoretically eliminates the need for another platoon combination on the roster which enables other possibilities.

In any event, I think rather than asking, “Which player does the team miss the most?,” perhaps the question should be, “Which supstitute replacement player(s) marks the biggest drop off?”  What do you think?

Which player have the Yankees missed the most this season?

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Yankees take third straight from Blue Jays on Soriano's late homer
Yankees place Jayson Nix on DL, recall Preston Claiborne
  • JLC 776

    Intangibles!!!

    • nycsportzfan

      gotta go captain on this one. No overthinking for me. Its cap!

  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    Voting Jeter. I just think the stabilizing force of him at shortstop would have mitigated a LOT of the headaches this year. Nix could have platooned at 3B, Nunez could have been a spot starter/PR, and it just would have felt like the Yankees, if that makes any sense.

    I’m not sure the return of any one of them makes a difference as far as the division standings go(except maybe leaping the O’s), but if I could rewind the season and play it out with one of them 100% healthy, I’m definitely taking Jeter.

  • MannyGeee

    I have to go Jeter here. While in a bubble, Nunez is about what you’d expect in a backup SS and arguably better than Loverbay and whatever drek has been hanging around the left side of the infield this season (A-Rod not included)… Jeter adds some sorely needed depth to this lineup.

    I love me some Tex when he’s right and I have to think a healthy Youk would have been a great addition to this lineup, but I think a healthy Captain would be the difference over 2nd & 4th in the Division right now.

  • CashmanNinja

    Overbay may be more of a platoon guy, but he’s held his own better than most expected…and his defense hasn’t been too bad either. He’s obviously not nearly as good as Tex, but we could have done a lot worse than him at this point.

    The obviously guy here is Jeter. Even if it was just average Jeter, it’s still better than what we’ve had. Nunez is frustrating beyond belief, Nix has been “gritty”, but nothing special. There’s really a huge drop off between Jeter and the rest. So yeah…Jeter is definitely going to win this poll.

  • Mike HC

    Definitely Jeter for me. Not only performance wise, but missed watching him play baseball all season. Tex is second. And with Youk, it is tough to miss what we basically never had.

  • TCMiller30

    Youkilis? Haha what’s he doing on this list? I would have voted for Pineda before him. I hated that signing from the start, and not just because he’s an ass, but because he’s been more of an injury liability that A-Rod, yet he was the one who was supposed to fill in full time until A-Rod got back? You can imagine how shocked I (and I’m sure thousands of others) was when he got hurt about 30 minutes into his Yankee career.

    • steve (different one)

      One thing I found interesting was in the MLB puff piece on Reynolds when he became a Yankee, he basically said that both the Yankees and Indians were interested over the winter, but he decided to go to Cleveland because they have Spring Training near his home in AZ.

      Sometimes there are unknown reasons why players sign where they do. Reynolds was basically saying one team was going to get Reynolds and the other was going to get Youkilis, and once Reynolds decided he wanted ST near AZ, the Yanks were going to get Youk.

      There wasn’t a ton out there once A-Rod got hurt. Chavez has hit, but like Youk, has also spent more time off the field than on it. Even the “premium” option, gutting the farm for Chase Headley would have been a pretty big let down (this year at least).

      • TCMiller30

        Youk should have never been on the radar. I would have said the same for Chavez.

        Looking back, pickins were pretty slim, but I would have rather just rolled with Nix/A-Rod/Musty or throw enough money at Reynolds to change his mind at 3B than to rely on Youk for 12 mil.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Reynolds in the small dose we’re getting him now may have been MUCH more tolerable than Reynolds, every day, over the entire season.

          I was for the Youk signing at the time, so there’s not much else for me to say here.

          • TCMiller30

            OPS in Cleveland 0.680
            OPS in NY (I know.. crazy SSS) 0.695

            It’s not like he’s come in here and has been hitting like Soriano. But I was way more confident in his ability to stay healthy over Youk, and thought that when healthy, their numbers would have been somewhat comparable (Reynolds more power, Youk better D and better OBP). Youk was showing a pretty significant slide over the past 2-3 years, and a complete inability to stay healthy. I wasn’t confident he’d be able to buck both of those trends, and he was also pretty terrible before going down for the year.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              In retrospect, I was silly in thinking Youk would work out…..and at that salary. I must have been more excited about stealing another of their heroes.

              I think the strikeouts and low BA would have been tough to stomach with Reynolds throughout the course of the season. Still would have been better than the revolving door, though.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    My mind immediately went the same place yours did, Matt. Although I think Tex certainly would provide the most offensive firework, the Yankees have been rather lucky to employ a serviceable fill-in throughout the year in Lyle Overbay. It’s hard for me to miss Youk – I have no clue what 2013 Yankee Youk would look like.

    My vote was for the captain because, simply put, not having to go through the army of replacements at short this team’s had to employ, and even having 75% of 2012 Derek Jeter there, would have had a huge impact.

    Those bottom halves of the lineup that had two of Luis Cruz, Reid Brignac, Brett Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez, etc. were just brutal to sit through.

    • mike

      remember that Youk would have been an OK RH platoon partner with Overbay at 1B once Arod came back, or if Nunez could handle 3B against lefties

  • scott

    why cant i vote for sabathia?

    • +1

      +1

  • I’m One

    Did we really need 3 choices? I guess we’re all entitled to our opinions, but you’d be just flat out wrong in your opninion if you voted anyone other than Jeter. :-)

    I guess I could see someone voting for Youk had he stayed healthy all season, as the Yankees other options (until A-Rod’s recent return) have been far from spectecular, even far from league average.

    Loverbay has just been too good for me to vote Teixiera.

  • JGYank

    MIssed them all but I voted Jeter. This is his line against LHP from 2010-2012: 575 ABs 19Hr with a .344/.402/.515/.917 line. That is a huge improve over the replacement players we had. Tex is missed but Overbay wasn’t terrible like the SS/3B backups. Youk would have been nice improvement over those backups even if Arod was the better option. Grandy, Cervelli, Arod, and even Nunez were all missed all some point. Btw anyone hear anything on Hafner and when he could return? I wonder how he would fit back into this team since he wasn’t hitting and we are out of room for him. Maybe they wait until September.

  • Curtis

    I’ll take Tex. More of a guaranteed production rather than Jeter at 39, where there are still age concerns.

    Plus, I hate carrying TWO crappy first baseman. LOLverbay with an exemplary 0.5 WAR on the season.

    • trr

      If you think age and declining production aren’t an issue for Tex, then you haven’t been watching the last couple of years.

  • Betty Lizard

    Russell Martin.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      For Betty, this was a much deeper issue.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I don’t know why but I read that as the caption of a Far Side comic.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          And the picture would have looked like….

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            I didn’t get that far. My brain still prevents me from visiting certain depths…

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Any mental sketches I have go far and beyond what even my potty fingers would be willing to type on here.

      • trr

        I see….

  • Eddard

    Like Suzyn, I just shudder to think where that left side of the infield would be without Jayson Nix. I guess we’ll now have to worry about how they’re going to fill that void. So I wouldn’t go Jete because we had Nix and we still have Nuney.

    I wouldn’t go Teixera because we have Overbay getting clutch hits for us.

    So I guess that leaves Youk. We had to play the awful David Adams and Luis Cruz at 3rd in Youk’s absence. Even more than Youk, they missed A-Rod. When A-Rod returned the club started winning ballgames again.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Winter is coming.

    • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

      When you have Nunez hitting .245/.302/.337 with atrocious defense, you just don’t miss Derek Jeter!

  • JLC 776

    I voted Youk just because I wanted to see if that button actually worked on the poll. [/sarcasm]

    • TCMiller30

      Haha nice.

  • trr

    Jeter.
    Why? No other options @ SS

  • brian

    Of those 3, Jeter, no question..

    Yankees now stand 4 out of the second wild card… I’ve said all along if they can get to 3 by the time he gets back … and he comes back and STAYS back… this team can nab the second wild card spot

  • brian

    Question for y’all…

    If the Yankees do nab a wild card but lose the play in game… do you consider that making the playoffs?? I argued to my friend the other day that you didn’t “make the playoffs” until you’re playing game 1 of the division series

    Not to sound like some Randy Levine style blowhard… but WE’RE THE YANKEES…

    • Mike HC

      I think they basically just added another level. I guess it is better to lose the play in game rather than not even make it. But definitely not as good as getting in the real playoffs.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Semantics. The longer we’re playing, the better.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yes, I do consider it making the playoffs. Not my favorite way of going out, but you got to play one more game than almost everyone else. It’s the playoffs.

      “We’re the Yankees” means absolutely nothing. Nothing is ever handed to you in sports. Ask the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.

      • brian

        by “we’re the yankees” i meant the standard for what constitutes a successful season is different than other teams,

        I respect the argument… technically it’s making the playoffs.. but i’m sticking to the see ya game 1 of the division series

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          Well is being eliminated in the division series a “successful season”?

          ALCS? Losing in the WS?

          Or is that one play in game the difference between a bad and good season?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            It’s always disappointing to lose. I would have been devastated had the Heat lost Game 7 in the Finals. At some point, though, as it did with the 2012 ALCS, that disappointment would have morphed into appreciation for what the team did rather than what they didn’t do.

            It’s hard for “successful season” to exist without context. The Yankees could miss the playoffs this season, and there would be aspects of what we saw that would lead you to call what you saw this season “successful.”

            Save the chest-thumping for the gym.

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

              I was honestly just curious, as I’m not even sure what my own definition would be. Subjective is the only way to go.

              I will be doing no chest thumping in any gyms. Such an act requires a chest to thump.

          • brian

            honestly every year is different

            most years I agreed with the Steinbrenner/Jeter tagline “anything short of a championship is a disappointment”

            this is NOT one of those seasons, IMHO if this team loses in the division series thats still a successful year

            • Robinson Tilapia

              If this team continues the run they have now through the beginning of October, but still falls, say, a game and a half short, what would you think?

              Not setting you up with that question at all. :)

              • brian

                I’d say kudos for finishing strong, but disappointment for sure

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  ….but would there be aspects of that you’d consider a success?

                  • Mike HC

                    Not really. The season would have been a disappointment mostly due to all the injuries. Not to say there aren’t successes on an individual basis. But team wise, no, missing the playoffs is not a success at all no matter how close we get.

                    P.S – How would we end up a game and a half short? Unplayed rainout game?

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      Extra gritty Pedroia play.

                      I just threw a random number out there without thinking. :)

                    • Mike HC

                      haha

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

              It’s true. I agree with you for the most part, although I’ve never been on the “WS or Bust!” bandwagon. If I enjoy the season, have fun rooting for the team, they’re competitive and have some good stories, at the end of the day I’m probably a happy camper.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I think that’s a fine stance for the front office to take, and I think every front office in baseball should think that way, not just the Yankees.

          I think it’s a ridiculous stance for a fan to take. Just ridiculous. How some people reacted to 2012 is one of the most embarassing things I’ve witnessed as a fan. The team was in the ALCS.

          I also understand perfectly that you’re not fully endorsing that stance yourself.

          Of course I’d rather play in the Division Series but, like you said, it is technically the playoffs.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Height of embarrassment is still boston fans after game 3 of the 04 ALCS which I’m still pretty sure never happened.

            If there was ever a group of fans that didn’t deserve the success they experienced, that was it.

            • I’m One

              ’04 ALCS? What ’04 ALCS? I never saw it, so it didn’t happen. (Or at least it’s been erased from my memory.)

      • JLC 776

        The 2013 Blue Jays: The latest team to prove that you can’t buy a world championship (despite what Yankee haters say)

    • Eddard

      No, it would be considered making the playoffs. To make the playoffs you have to be one of the last 4 teams standing. And if they do make a 1 game playoff Hiroki needs to start that ballgame and Nova would start the division series if they win.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I’m guessing you meant wouldn’t be.

        To make the Playoffs as defined by MLB, you have to make the play in game. Any other definition is your own interpretation, and different than the objective definition.

        It’s a completely irrelevant distinction any way. No one’s going to be any happier getting swept in the ALDS than they’d be losing in the play in game.

        • brian

          this is what makes it an interesting debate though..

          yeh, i get what you’re saying, but think about it for a second..

          if the yankees do get to the division series, that includes some friday/saturday games… this means maybe a chance to make plans with an old buddy from college whose a fellow yankee fan, and you sort of use the game to build a fun time around

          they lose the play in game, by the time the weekend rolls around they’re out of it

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Yeah I mean I probably went too far, there are definitely different levels of happiness. But I think my main point is where you define “playoffs” is irrelevant to anything meaningful.

        • Eddard

          The WC play in game is no different than tying for a division or WC spot and losing that one game playoff. If you lose that one game playoff you don’t make the postseason. If you win you get into an actual playoff series. You have to make the LDS to get to the postseason.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Nope. MLB defined the term, not you. Sorry.

          • brian

            I’m not sure what it says that Eddard and I are 100% in agreement while everyone else seems to be on the other side of the fence, probably best to get back to work and not overthink it:)

            • Robinson Tilapia

              You’ll disagree on the same issue in about an hour.

        • Mike HC

          “No one’s going to be any happier getting swept in the ALDS than they’d be losing in the play in game”

          I think the Steinbrenner’s might be a little happier with millions of extra dollars worth of home game income from at least one division series game and maybe two. Also, as a fan, I would definitely be happier to watch at least 3 more exciting playoffs games.

          And by calling it the “play in” game basically means that you are in “playing in” to get to the real playoffs. But baseball doesn’t call it a play in game. They basically want you to look at it as if the division winners get a bye, and the first round is a one game “series.”

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            I was calling it the play in game for clarity. MLB has defined that game as the playoffs, so to me, it’s the playoffs. It’s that simple.

            • Mike HC

              Fair enough. We are all basically arguing over what we want to label it. Who gives a shit what you call it really … but I still think it is not the real playoffs and only a “play in” game, ha

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I’ve heard it interchangibly get called a “one-game playoff.” This is semantics.

            The more baseball I watch, the happier I’ll be, obviously.

            • Mike HC

              That is where I’m at too. Last years series vs the Orioles was extremely exciting and not completely diminished just because we forgot how to hit against the Tigers.

    • TCMiller30

      I’m hoping there’s a tie for the last WC spot, and there’s a 1 game playoff going into the 1 game playoff to reach the actual playoffs.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        The more games played, the more of a chance your buddy Youk is back to play in one of them. ;)

  • Ben

    As great as Jeter is, I voted Tex. What the Yankees were missing was a middle of the order power hitter, and Tex provides that from both sides of the plate. Look at how the lineup is producing now having such hitters in the middle.

  • Mike c

    LOL at Tex’s “average glove.” I guess he’s not one of “axisa’s guys”

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      I (Matt Warden) wrote this, not Mike.

      Just for clarification here, the sentence reads “Additionally, his glove is somewhere in the average to very good range depending on which metrics you trust.” Defensive metrics judge him differently. My opinion is he’s very good defensively, and I think Mike probably agrees.

  • I’m a looser baby, so why don’t you kill me? (Formerly not the droids you’re looking for…)

    Can we vote for Martin?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      I wish Michael Kay had included that in his pole, because I agree, Martin would absolutely be an acceptable entry.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I, sadly, chuckled.

  • Branco

    First post, though I’ve been a reader since 08…

    I’m surprised that Teixeira’s excellent scoops and picks at 1st weren’t discussed. Tex can dig throws out of the dirt that his replacements never seem to come up with. Point is, he makes the infield better by giving them a larger margin of error on throws. Nunez with Tex at first probably means a few less base runners than with Overbay at first.

    That said, I still voted for Jeter.

    • dkidd

      nice post

      see you in 2018 :)

    • Old Kinderhook

      Teixeira’s scoops helped win Jeter the Gold Glove in 2009 — suddenly all his throwing errors went away!

      That said, I also voted for Jeter.

  • http://secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    I realize he’s back now, but I think ARod is still a legitimate answer. The team is so much better and deeper with him.

    • dkidd

      also granderson

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matthew Warden

      I agree completely, Ben. I think he falls into the same category as Youk in that regard. Either of those guys make a tremendous difference to the lineup on a lot of levels…especially when compared to what the team has gotten otherwise.

  • The Tenth Inning Stretch

    I’m going with Tex, and tossing in Granderson, because it seemed to me that what the Yankees needed most was power. Seeing guys like Overbay and Wells bat cleanup earlier this year was embarrassing. With a few sluggers in the lineup now, Cano is tearing it up and the Yankees seem like they can mount a comeback against virtually anybody.