The Yankees put a bow on their worst season since 1992 Sunday at Fenway Park.
The season will always be remembered for a player drafted in 1992, Derek Jeter, who called it quits after 20 seasons with the Yankees. But Jeter’s fond farewell masked some of the tremendous issues the Yankees have going forward. They still have a lot of money locked up in players who broke down in 2014, like Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia.
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Metro grades the offense and pitching from a year which no one will forget — just not for the actual product on the field.
Brian McCann, catcher
It’s hard to know what the Yankees were expecting when they signed McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal.
Yankee fans were probably expecting more than a .232 average and .286 on-base percentage. But the 30-year-old had very similar numbers in Atlanta two years ago. The real fear will be a couple years from now when his skills continue to erode. For now, he’s a decent player to have behind the plate.
Mark Teixeira, first base
If the Yankees weren’t expecting a shell of Teixeira’s former self heading into the season, they know now he’s essentially done as a productive player. Teixeira batted just .216 with 22 home runs and his 0.9 WAR was less than half his previous season low (1.9 in 2007). In other words, he’s barely better than a replacement level or bench player at this point in his career. And his once stellar defense has been hampered by injuries, too.
Brian Roberts, second base
It’s never a good sign when your starting second baseman on Opening Day can’t even make it through the season without being designated for assignment. It’s even worse when the player you’re designated for is Stephen Drew — who deserves his own permanent spot on the waiver wire. Roberts wrapped up 91 games in New York with a .237 average and 21 extra base hits. Though to be fair, no one was expecting much.
Chase Headley, third base
Headley got off to a good start in New York after being dealt by San Diego in July, and more or less was a productive addition for the remainder of the season. He hit .262 with a .371 on-base percentage (highest of anyone on the team regardless of at-bats) and six home runs in 58 games. The Yankees will get Alex Rodriguez back, but re-signing Headley wouldn’t be a bad decision.
Derek Jeter, shortstop
Jeter gets an A for going out in style in his final season in the Bronx. But we're not grading on a curve. Jeter's last season was typical of many: He looked like he needed to retire. But give Jeter credit for realizing it sooner than most (see: Cal Ripken Jr.). It was mostly just nice to see the captain healthy enough to play in 145 games after last year's injury-plagued season.
Brett Gardner, left field
Gardner had a tremendous season, and it’s no knock against him, but there’s something wrong when he’s the second-best player on your team. The usually light-hitting left fielder batted .256, but he hit a career-high 17 home runs — more than twice his previous personal best. When someone asks you in a few years who had the highest slugging percentage on the Yankees in 2014, don’t be embarrassed to answer Gardner. There’s a big reason they missed postseason.
Jacoby Ellsbury, center field
Ellsbury will always be graded according to the massive $153 million deal he signed before this season. And frankly, he’ll never live up to it. Not when a rent-a-player like Nelson Cruz could be had for $8 million and have a WAR of 4.7 compared to Ellsbury’s 3.7. But it’s the Yankees’ fault for paying that money, not Ellsbury’s. His .271 average, 39 steals and 16 homers were solid. And he stayed healthy.
Ichiro Suzuki, right field
It seems like Ichiro always gets pressed into service more than the Yankees expect. It happened again in 2014 with Alfonso Soriano a disaster and Carlos Beltran consistently injured. He can’t be a productive player over the course of 359 at-bats like he was five years ago, but his defense is still above average and his .284 batting average led regular players. He scored just five fewer runs than Jeter in 222 fewer at-bats. That may say more about Jeter, though.
Carlos Beltran, designated hitter
Those who chose Beltran over Ellsbury in the “Who will be a bigger injury disaster?” pool came up winners. The 37-year-old looked like ... well ... a 37-year-old. It’s almost shocking the Yankees didn’t have access to his birth certificate when every other team in the league did. It’s hard to hate on a genuinely likable person, but there’s no question he was a disaster as a player. You could’ve replaced his 0.3 WAR with a bag of balls. And for less than $45 million.
The pitchers ...
CC Sabathia, starter
The biggest disaster of the whole season — and that’s saying something — was Sabathia. He made just eight starts with a 5.28 ERA before calling it a season due to injury. And now his season could be in severe jeopardy due to a degenerative knee condition.
Hiroki Kuroda, starter
Kuroda was, absurdly, the only pitcher to qualify for the ERA title. He was up and down, but hard to complain about 32 starts and a 3.71 ERA.
Masahiro Tanaka, starter
It all started off so well. Tanaka came firing out of the gate only to suffer a partially torn elbow at midseason. His brief return only left questions for next season.
Michael Pineda, starter
With or without pine tar, he was pretty good when pitching. But like Tanaka, he was too often sidelined due to injury. It's becoming an alarming trend for Pineda.
Dellin Betances, reliever
The best pitcher on the Yankees this year was their All-Star setup man. The city native went from a highly touted starting pitching prospect to a bust to a dominant setup man, just like a former legendary closer in the Bronx. Will he succeed David Robertson?
David Robertson, closer
The Yankees didn’t miss Mariano Rivera much. He picked up 39 saves with a 3.08 ERA and never fell into a streak of blown saves. But now he's a free agent.