Wednesday, June 5, 2013
AB4AR "Best Of The Month" Awards: May 2013
May was a tale of 2 months for the Yankees. They started off hot, winning 9 of their first 13, before falling into the worst offensive slump we've seen to date from the replacement group and finishing off the month by losing 7 of 10. The poor finish didn't hurt them too bad, as they are still right in the thick of the AL East hunt just 2 games behind Boston in the loss column, but it did make picking out the award winners for May more difficult than it usually is. Find out who they are after the jump.
Player of the Month- Brett Gardner
It's the type of well-rounded month of production we've come to expect from Gardner when he's healthy and it propelled him to the best month on the team as far as fWAR was concerned in May. Gardner racked up 0.8 fWAR for the month thanks to a .275/.339/.441 slash in 112 PA, good for a .340 wOBA and 110 wRC+ that were tops among all lineup regulars. Gardner also led the team with 28 H, 15 R scored, and 7 SB last month, and his positive defensive rating was backed up with anything you might have seen with your own eyes watching him play center field. Gardner gave the Yankees exactly what they needed in May, and there's still room for improvement.
Pitcher of the Month- Shawn Kelley & Preston Claiborne
CC, Hirok, and David Phelps all had strong months starting, but it was the bullpen that did the job in May and these 2 guys were at the forefront of it. While injuries continued to wreak havoc on the roster and workload, Kelley and Claiborne found themselves thrust into high-leverage innings and they responded spectacularly to the challenge. The 2 combined to pitch 25.1 innings over 21 appearances, allowing just 15 H, 5 ER (1.78 ERA), 2 BB, and striking out 32 batters. Kelley alone struck out 21 of the 40 total batters he faced last month - a 52.5% K rate - and Claiborne didn't walk a single batter in 14+ IP. He still hasn't. Between injuries and some near overwork of D-Rob and Mo, the 'pen could have been in a tight spot in May. Kelley and Claiborne stepped up and filled the gap, possibly earning themselves more high-leverage work in the future in the process.
Play of the Month- Lyle Overbay hits a go-ahead HR in the top of the 11th to complete a comeback win over Tampa- 5/25
This was the last game the Yankees won in May before going on that horrific end-of-the-month stretch of offensive futility, and it was one of the more unexpected wins of the season. Vidal Nuno was pitching in place of Andy Pettitte, the Yanks were facing Matt Moore and his dominant left-handed ness, and after going down 3-1 in the 7th they managed to come back and tie the game in the top of the 9th against Fernando Rodney. They didn't have many bullets in the bullpen gun when the top of the 11th rolled around, and Overbay stepped in with 2 outs. He hit a 1-0 pitch for the game-winning solo HR, his biggest hit in a season full of clutch hits, and gave the Yankees a win they didn't look like they had a prayer of getting.
Game of the Month (Individual)- Overbay goes 4-5 w/ 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, and 5 RBI vs. Kansas City- 5/10
While we're on the topic of Overbay, let's talk about the monster game he had in Kansas City 3 weeks ago. He was the driving force in the team's best offensive performance of the month, an 11-6 beatdown of KC in their own place that distracted people from one of Phil Hughes' poorer outings. Overbay drove in runs with all 4 of his hits, all of which were for extra bases. 2 in the 2nd, 1 in the 4th, 1 in the 6th, 2 in the 9th. He helped get it started and he helped close it out, putting up the type of 1-game slash line that any Yankee fan would have been thrilled to see from even Teix or Cano. In just this 1 game, Overbay raised his season line from .238/.279/.448 to .264/.302/.509. That's a pretty good day at the office.
Game of the Month (Team)- 7-0 victory on the road over Cleveland in the 2nd game of a makeup doubleheader- 5/13
The stage was set for a bad time late on the afternoon of Monday, May 13th. The Yankees had already lost the opener of the 1-day doubleheader just a few minutes earlier, they had rookie Vidal Nuno starting the second game in place of the re-injured Ivan Nova, they had a very short bullpen behind him, and they had a starting lineup with a 6-9 of Ben Francisco, Corban Joseph, Alberto Gonzalez, and Austin Romine. Naturally they spanked the Indians and shut them out. Jayson Nix, Vernon Wells, and Overbay carried the offense while Nuno and Adam Warren teamed up for the shutout. There isn't a game this season that better encapsulates what the Yankees have managed to do to hold their own than this one.