The Yankees enter the All-Star break leading the American League East, but they have the fewest wins by an AL East leader at the midway point since the Red Sox were 49-38 in 2005.

In a year where the division may be not as strong as in years past, it is deep as seemingly every team in the division has a chance of potentially winning it. This means the Yankees cannot afford to have any extended rough stretches in the second half as they look to win their first AL East title since 2012.

Here are three players who need to have good second halves for the Yankees to continue their success:

 

Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez had a great first half, but they need him to be just as good in the second half. Mark Teixeira will likely just build off his monster first half of the season and having the two hit No. 3 and 4 in the order with success would be a nightmare for opposing pitching staffs.

The key for the 39-year-old is staying healthy and manager Joe Girardi has done a good job so far this season of managing A-Rod’s playing time. Obviously, having A-Rod as a full-time designated hitter has helped.

 

Jacoby Ellsbury

The center fielder missed an extended period of time with a knee injury in the first half, but did return at the end. His presence at the top of the order makes the Yankees a completely different team. Ellsbury is batting over .300 and has an on-base percentage close to .400. Him setting the tone at the top of the lineup is huge for the Yankees’ success, especially with Teixeira and Rodriguez hitting behind him.

As is the case with Rodriguez, staying healthy will be key. It’s clear how different the Yankees are with him playing and can’t afford him to miss another extended stretch of time. 

 

Michael Pineda

Everyone knows what a great bullpen the Yankees have, it’s just getting to the bullpen which remains an issue. Masahiro Tanaka has proven to be the Yankees’ best starter, but Pineda is a close second. He closed out the first half with a great performance against the Red Sox at Fenway Park and the Yankees would love to get more of those going forward.

If the Yankees were to reach the postseason, having Tanaka and Pineda on top of their games leading the rotation, with a dominant bullpen, New York would be a team no one would want to see.