Derek Jeter is gone but the two biggest offensive threats from the 2009 World Series team are currently playing as though six years have not passed.
Take a glance at the Yankees stat page on any sports website and you see the names “Rodriguez” and “Teixeira” at the top of nearly every important category. A-Rod leads the team in batting average, at .279, and in OBP, at .379. Teixeira leads the club in home runs, 18, and RBIs, 48.
A-Rod and Teixeira have done an admirable job, so far, of making the Yankees look like the Yankees – simply in terms of star power and literal power. At shortstop, Didi Gregorius has had his issues in replacing the Legend. He’s hitting just .232, the worst number of anyone on the Yankees not named Stephen Drew, and he’s committed eight errors. Those “E’s” are obviously magnified because of who he’s replacing. But in fairness to Gregorius, there are eight MLB shortstops who have more errors this season.
Gregorius could at least approach the .256 batting average that Jeter had last season, and in the month of June the 25-year-old is hitting .267, showing improvement at the plate.
“I think he’s relaxed much more now than he was earlier in the season, I do,” Yankees manager/ prophet Joe Girardi said back on May 27. “And I think he’s played much better on defense and I think he’ll continue to improve.”
There is a hesitation to call this a championship team, of course. It remains to be seen if A-Rod and Teixeira can keep this up and/or stay healthy (Teixeira’s neck issue is worrisome at 35-years-old) and Gregorius could go into another slump at a moment’s notice.
But there is plenty of reason to believe, on a whole, that the Yankees can win a poor AL East. And once a team gets into the playoffs these days, anything is possible. Neither of last year’s World Series representatives reached 90 regular season wins as the Giants had an 88-74 record and the Royals had an 89-73 mark.
More positive thinking: if the Yankees want an in-house comparison, they can see that the 2009 championship team had a 37-29 record on June 19 of that season. The 2015 bunch is just behind that pace at 35-30 on the year.