The Yankees and 2015’s major awards


We’re now into the final week of the regular season, meaning candidates for baseball’s major annual awards only have a handful of games remaining to state their cases. Outside of NL MVP, which should go to Bryce Harper unanimously, the other major awards in both leagues feature some very tight races. It’ll be fun to see them shake out.

The last Yankees player to win a major award was Mariano Rivera, who took home 2013 AL Comeback Player of the Year honors after tearing his ACL on the Kauffman Stadium warning track in 2012. Prior to that you have to go back to Alex Rodriguez‘s 2007 MVP season. There is something of a Yankee bias in the awards voting — a Yankee usually needs to have a season far superior to everyone else to receive votes, a la A-Rod in 2007. If it’s close, the votes tend to go to the non-Yankee.

Anyway, as a reminder, the awards are all voted on following the end of the regular season but before the postseason. The playoffs have zero bearing on the major awards. They cover the regular season only. So, with that in mind, let’s preview the awards races and see where some Yankees may fit into the picture, if any.

Most Valuable Player

Right now the MVP race is between Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout, with Donaldson seemingly in the lead. Trout, however, has equal or better offensive numbers (other than RBI, basically) and doesn’t play in a hitter-friendly home park. Also, the Angels are right in the thick of the AL wildcard race. If they sneak in, will that push some voters towards Trout? The ballot literally says standings do not matter, but we all know they do. Voters consider that stuff all the time. Donaldson is the favorite but Trout could make it very interesting with a big final week to push the Halos into the postseason.


For much of the season Mark Teixeira was a legitimate MVP candidate based on old school stats. He was mashing taters and driving in runs (and playing great defense) for a first place team, which usually equals MVP candidate. Teixeira’s injury — he only played 111 games this year — and the Yankees’ tumble into a wildcard spot ended his long shot chances for the MVP award. Teixeira was awesome, but I thought it was a stretch to lump him into a group with Donaldson, Trout, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado … guys like that.

The Yankees only have three other players remotely close to being considered MVP candidates, in my opinion: A-Rod, Brian McCann, and Dellin Betances. A-Rod has had a big year offensively but is still a DH, and DHs need huge years to win MVP. Not even peak Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz won an MVP, remember. McCann has been arguably the best offensive catcher in the league and a reliable defender. Betances? Even with his recent walk problems, he’s been the most dominant reliever in the game this summer.

The MVP ballot includes ten spots and those last two or three spots always seem to get weird. Teixeira, A-Rod, McCann, and Betances could all get down-ballot votes. Heck, maybe Carlos Beltran and Andrew Miller will as well. Even Raul Ibanez got a tenth place vote on the 2012 MVP ballot after all those clutch late-season homers. (No, really.) I think a Yankee or three will get MVP votes in 2015. But they don’t have a serious candidate to win the thing.

Cy Young

The Yankees do not have a legitmate Cy Young candidate. They probably won’t even have a starter reach 170 innings — CC Sabathia leads the team with 162.1 innings with one start to go — which has never happened in a non-strike season in franchise history. Ever. Masahiro Tanaka has been the team’s best starter and he’s only thrown 149 innings with one start remaining. Betances and Miller could get votes — Dellin actually went into last night’s game eighth in the AL in bWAR — but they won’t win and shouldn’t win. Too many deserving starting pitcher candidates.

At this point I’d say the AL Cy Young is a toss-up between Dallas Keuchel and David Price. The traditional stats are damn near identical — Keuchel is 19-8 with a 2.47 ERA, Price is 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA — and Keuchel has an edge in bWAR (7.3 vs. 6.0) while Price has an edge in fWAR (6.4 vs. 6.1). So pick one. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer. Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, and Chris Sale are among the other candidates. The Cy Young ballot includes five slots, not ten, and I suppose Dellin could steal a fifth place vote or two. He’s pretty much their only hope for 2015 Cy Young votes.


Rookie of the Year

The Yankees have used more rookies this season than at any point in the last 10-15 years or so — at a quick glance, I count 23 Yankees rookies, 16 of whom made their MLB debuts in 2015 — but they don’t have a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. None of them have been around long enough. Chasen Shreve is the only rookie who has been on the roster more than even half the season, and he’s a middle reliever. Middle relievers don’t get Rookie of the Year votes.

Luis Severino is New York’s best chance at Rookie of the Year votes and I don’t see it happening at all. That’s not meant as a knock on Severino’s performance. He’s been great, but ten starts and 55.1 innings just isn’t enough to get love on a Rookie of the Year ballot that runs only three slots deep. Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa will occupy the top two spots in whatever order, then the list of candidates for the third spot include Lance McCullers Jr., Roberto Osuna, Miguel Sano, Delino DeShields Jr., Devon Travis, and Billy Burns.

None of the baby Yankees have been around long enough to garner serious Rookie of the Year consideration this year. Maybe Severino steals a third place vote. Maaaybe. That’s about it.

Manager of the Year

At some point in the last decade or so the Manager of the Year morphed into the “manager of the team that most exceeds expectations” award. Are the Yankees exceeding expectations this year? I think so, but more than, say, the Rangers (Jeff Banister) or Astros (A.J. Hinch) or Twins (Paul Molitor) or even the Blue Jays (John Gibbons)? That’s up to the voters to decide.

The Manager of the Year ballot runs three names deep and last year seven of the 15 AL managers received a vote (Girardi got one third place vote). The year before that? Nine of 15 managers got a vote. Girardi has received at least one Manager of the Year vote every year with the Yankees except 2008, his first season. The smart money is on Girardi appearing on at least one voter’s ballot. Winning it over Banister or Hinch or whoever? That’s tough to see.


Comeback Player of the Year

Okay, now we’re talking. A-Rod is a bonafide Comeback Player of the Year candidate along with Prince Fielder, Ryan Madson, and Kendrys Morales. (Jose Iglesias and Chris Davis are probably in the mix as well.) The Comeback Player of the Year used to be decided by fan voting, but it’s now up to a panel of beat reporters. I’m not sure how that whole process works.

Rodriguez didn’t play last season because of his suspension and there is precedent for a player being named Comeback Player of the Year following a performance-enhancing drug issues — Jason Giambi was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2005, a few months after getting caught up in the BALCO scandal. That doesn’t necessarily mean the voters won’t hold the PED stuff against A-Rod, but if they don’t, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.

Anyway, Madson is a non-closer reliever, which works against him. Usually closers are the only relievers to win major awards. That’s not to say Madson isn’t deserving — the guy missed three years after Tommy John surgery, after all — just that the history of the voting body works against him. On the other hand, A-Rod (130 wRC+), Fielder (126 wRC+), and Morales (130 wRC+) all have comparable offensive numbers and they’re all DHs too. (Fielder has played only 18 games at first base this year.) Comparing them is nice and easy. Apples to apples.

The Comeback Player of the Year will come down to a matter of nitpicking. Fielder’s batting average (.306) or Morales’ RBI total (105) or A-Rod’s homers (32)? You can slice this in any number of ways. I don’t know if A-Rod will win the Comeback Player of the Year this year, but he’s a legitimate candidate and the Yankees’ best shot at winning a major award this season.

Saturday Links: Teixeira, Forbes, Martin, 2017 WBC


The Yankees and Mets continue the Subway Series a little later this afternoon. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time.

Teixeira named 2016 Roberto Clemente Award nominee

Mark Teixeira has been named the Yankees nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. Each team nominates one player and the winner is determined by fan voting. Here’s the ballot. The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Derek Jeter won it back in 2009. It’s a pretty big deal. The voting ends October 9th. Here’s the ballot again. Go vote for Teixeira.

Forbes ranks Yankees as third most valuable sports franchise

According to the latest Forbes rankings, the Yankees are the third most valuable sports franchise in the world at $3.2 billion. Only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion) and Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) are more valuable. Well, technically the Yankees are tied with the New England Patriots at $3.2 billion, but who cares about them. Forbes valued the Yankees at $3.2 billion back in March — the Dodgers are a distant second among MLB teams at $2.4 billion — and they post their updated MLB franchise valuations during Spring Training each year.

Martin scraps slider for curveball

Earlier this season, righty Chris Martin was higher up on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen depth chart than I think most of us realized, but he struggled for a while and eventually wound up on the DL with an elbow injury. The Yankees sent Martin to Triple-A once he got healthy, and, according to Billy Witz, Martin dropped his slider in favor of a curveball while with the RailRiders.

Martin hasn’t pitched a whole lot this month, so we haven’t seen the new curveball yet. He told Witz he was better able to control his slider, but the curveball gets more swings and misses, and that’s a trade-off he’s willing to make. I’m not sure Martin will be with the Yankees beyond this year — there’s going to be a big 40-man roster crunch this offseason and Martin’s expendable — but he has a new pitch now, and maybe that will help him stick around the big leagues a few more years.

2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers coming to Brooklyn

Earlier this week, MLB announced qualifying games for the 2017 World Baseball Classic are coming to Brooklyn. The four-team pool includes Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, and Pakistan, and they’ll play their round robin tournament from September 22nd to 25th next year at MCU Park in Coney Island. The winner of the pool advances to the 2017 WBC. MCU Park is really great. One of my favorites. This isn’t Yankees-related, but baseball in Brooklyn is still cool. Anyway, here is the full WBC qualifying round information.

A Eulogy for Mark Teixeira’s Season

This guy is good at baseball. (Jeff Haynes/AP Photo)
This guy had a great season. (Jeff Haynes/AP Photo)

“A cardinal crashed into my window;

I think he might die. 

I’ll plan him a funeral; I’ll read his last rites

‘Cause I know what he saw in that reflection of light.

On the glass was a better life.”

With the announcement on Friday that he would miss the rest of the season due to his leg injury, Mark Teixeira‘s 2015 season came to a close. While this has been lingering since he fouled a ball off his leg on August 17 against the Twins, the news still carries a bit of a shock, considering the original diagnosis wasn’t this bad, not to mention just how well Tex had hit the ball all year. The timing of the announcement–on the verge of a terribly important four game series with the division-leading Blue Jays–was a harbinger for the weekend (or at least the first three games and two days thereof). Not only was the weather miserable yesterday, but so was the baseball as the Yankees have dropped all three games of the series so far, including a double-header sweep (hopefully, Masahiro Tanaka can right the ship today) leaving them 4.5 games back of the Jays with 21 games to play. Having played the last few weeks and facing the last few weeks without Teixeira, that lead seems about as bleakly large as it can be when it comes to winning the division.

Things aren’t all bad, however, as they do have a three game lead on the Rangers for the first Wild Card spot which is obviously good, but not preferable. That idea is just a microcosm of Tex’s injury situation; it’s nice that Greg Bird has filled in about as admirably as possible, but like the Wild Card spot, he’s just not your first choice.

2015 was a renaissance year for Tex as his 30 homer power (officially) returned. He clubbed 31 homers in his 111 games this year, nine more than he did all of last year in fewer games (123) and fewer plate appearances (462 this year; 508 last year). In terms of raw OPS, Tex’s .906 mark this year is the second best of his Yankee career, bested only by 2009 and its .948 mark. Using OPS+, though, 2015 has been Tex’s best season in the Bronx, beating out 2009 by a “score” of 148-141. A similar pattern holds true with wOBA/wRC+ as 2009 was better from a raw perspective–.402 to .381–while 2015 was better from an adjusted perspective–143-142.

Tex’s last three (partial) seasons have mirrored the Yankees’ last three seasons in that there were some underlying positives despite a less-than-desirable outcome. In 2013, Tex played in just 15 games. There were some signs that he was himself–a 12.7% walk rate and a .189 ISO–but there’s no way to call that a season, let alone a successful one. He took a step forward in 2014 and displayed his usual patience–11.4% walk rate–and solid power–.182 ISO. But, it still wasn’t quite enough, just like the Yankees’ season in general. With his return to prominence in 2015, so too returned the Yankees, who’ve long been in playoff position; with Tex back where he should be, the Yankees were back where they “should be.”

This isn’t to say that the loss of Tex dooms the Yankees into bird-crashing-into-unseen-window status. They have plenty of bats, a solid (if tired) bullpen, and plenty of games to make up some ground on the Blue Jays or separate themselves from the Rangers (and Twins and Angels). Those tasks are obviously a lot harder without the team’s offensive MVP, but they aren’t impossible. Thanks to Tex, the Yankees are in a good position to make the playoffs and hopefully make a deep run therein. He helped carry the this far and now it’s up to his teammates to carry his torch as far as they can. Thanks for a great season, Mark; we’ll see you in the spring.

Mark Teixeira done for 2015 with fracture in right leg

Mark Teixeira‘s season is over. Brian Cashman told reporters this afternoon that tests performed on Teixeira’s shin today found a previously undetected fracture. He is done for the year. The small fracture comes with a three-month recovery time, so Teixeira is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Teixeira, 35, suffered the injury when he fouled a pitch off his shin about four weeks ago. He’d been through all sorts of tests that originally diagnosed him with a bone bruise. Those tests failed to show the fracture for whatever reason. The injury hadn’t healed as hoped in recent weeks, so much so that Teixeira was still walking around the clubhouse on crutches yesterday.

In 111 games this season, Teixeira has hit .255/.357/.548 (144 wRC+) with 31 home runs. He was their best hitter and their team MVP prior the injury. Still is, really. Teixeira has played in only 372 of 624 possible games (59.6%) since the start of 2012 due to a variety of injuries, most notably wrist surgery that limited him to 15 games in 2013.

With Teixeira out, Greg Bird steps in as the full-time first base going forward. He has hit .241/.319/.458 (112 wRC+) with five home runs in his first 24 big league games, which is great on the “22-year-old rookie thrown into a postseason race” scale, but a big step down from Teixeira. So it goes.

Lack of progress means Yankees are more and more likely to be without Teixeira rest of 2015


It has now been almost four full weeks since Mark Teixeira was last an everyday player for the Yankees. He fouled that pitch off his shin on August 17th, and aside from a few innings at first base on August 25th and a pinch-hitting appearance on August 26th, Teixeira has not played since. In hindsight, playing on the 25th and 26th should not have happened. But it did and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now.

The injury, specially a bone bruise in Teixeira’s shin with some associated nerve inflammation, has not improved much if at all over these last three weeks and change. Teixeira is still on crutches — he was walking around the clubhouse with just one crutch yesterday, not two, so I guess that’s progress? — and unable to put weight on his injured right leg. Right now, he remains in wait and see mode.

“I can’t walk without pain yet so that’s kind of the first step. My leg just doesn’t really work right now,” said Teixeira to reporters yesterday afternoon. He has not yet put any weight on the leg and certainly hasn’t resumed any sort of baseball activities. Teixeira is due to have tests today just as a check-up, to make sure things are progressing as they should. So far they haven’t, and that a big problem for the Yankees.

Greg Bird has stepped in at first base and been very good at times and rough at others. He’s hitting .241/.319/.458 (112 wRC+) while striking out a ton (30.9%) in 94 plate appearances, which is fine. For a rookie thrust into an everyday job in the middle of a pennant race, that’s pretty awesome. Bird’s defense has not been good, which was expected, and it’s a huge step down from Teixeira. That was inevitable. Teixeira has few peers defensively.

All things considered, Bird has stepped into a difficult situation and done a fine job. Very commendable. But he’s not Teixeira. Not even close, and the Yankees are in a much worse position now than they were with Teixeira four weeks ago. And given the lack of progress, it looks as though they’ll continue to be without Teixeira for a while. Brian Cashman recently admitted he was worried his first baseman would miss the rest of the season and unless today’s tests show substantial progress, it’s looking more and more likely Bird will be the first baseman down the stretch.

“We tried to push it the first time and knew it wasn’t ready. So we have to figure out how much healing’s occurred and when I can push it again,” added Teixeira. “In my mind, I’m playing. I’m still 100 percent (certain). I’m coming back, in my mind. That’s the way I have to go about it.”

The season ends three weeks and two days from today, which means not getting Teixeira back is becoming more and more of a reality. It’s not just a matter of getting the okay from the doctors then jumping back into the lineup. He’ll first have to shake off the rust and get his timing back before helping the Yankees in a meaningful way. It sucks, Teixeira was the team’s MVP before getting hurt, and each day that passes without much progress means they may not get him back at all this year.

Injury News: Nathan Eovaldi, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira

And no one was ever healthy again. (Presswire)
And no one was ever healthy again. (Presswire)

Got a bunch of not particular good injury updates to pass along, which come from Brian Cashman via the plethora of beat reporters. Away we go:

  • It “sounds like” Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) will not be able to return during the regular season, said Cashman. That’s not good. Eovaldi could be in play for the postseason, however. He will be shut down two weeks, then begin a two-week throwing program. The regular season ends three weeks and five days from today.
  • As for replacing Eovaldi in the rotation, Cashman said Adam Warren will be stretched back and will soon make another start. Bryan Mitchell was mentioned as another option. A trade isn’t happening. “I think what you’re seeing is what we’ve got,” said the GM.
  • Brett Gardner has been trying to play through a jammed shoulder recently. He hurt himself crashing into a wall making a catch. Gardner, who is not in tonight’s lineup for the second straight day, received a platelet-rich plasma injection the Yankees hope will calm things down. He is available tonight if necessary.
  • Mark Teixeira (leg) received two injections to help relieve some nerve inflammation around the bone bruise in his shin. He’s still on crutches. Cashman admitted he “(does) wonder” whether Teixeira will be able to return this season. Well, at least the team has a viable fill-in at first base.

Game 133: Severino Friday

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

The Yankees are back home and they’ll be home for a while. This is the start of a ten-game homestand against three division rivals, all of whom have some sort of postseason aspirations. The Rays may be ten games back in the AL East, but they are only 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot. October isn’t out of reach yet.

Young Luis Severino will be on the mound tonight for his sixth big league start and his third at home. The Yankees are 2-3 in his five starts but that’s not Severino’s fault. He has a 2.17 ERA. They just don’t score for him. The Yankees have scored 15 runs in his five starts — six in one game! — and only eight when Severino was actually on the mound. They owe him. Here is Tampa’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Luis Severino

It is cloudy in New York but there is no rain in the forecast. It’s pretty cool too. Temperatures have been in the low-80s all day and will dip into the 70s tonight. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) threw approximately 60 pitches in a simulated game this afternoon with a heavier brace and felt “great.” The Yankees will see how he feels in the coming days, and if all goes well, he’ll start Wednesday … in case you missed it earlier, Mark Teixeira (leg) was placed on the 15-day DL. It was a procedural move to get Nick Rumbelow back on the roster before his ten days were up. Teixeira, by the way, is still on crutches but said he “100%” expects to play again this season.