The Yankees rounded out the first half of the 2016 season exactly how they wanted to start it: with a convincing victory and an offensive outburst.
Interesting how things change, right?
Although the Yankees are still 7.5 games out of first and sitting at 4th in the AL East as they enter the All-Star break, they have been looking up since their dismal start to the season.
The first half was up and down. They had winning streaks where they looked like the best team in baseball and they suffered through losing streaks, where their offense was so dismal, it was horrific to watch. As every sports season begins with high expectations, the Yankees delivered for a few days and then sank into their slump.
They went through stages of highs and lows, but ultimately, they rounded out the first half with a 44-44 record. After the All-Star break, they are starting with a fresh slate…one that finds them fighting to get back to the top of the division.
Offensive struggles ended up being the downfall for New York. A stagnant offense proved to be their own worst enemy as they would often find themselves held scoreless as the innings dwindled down. There just never seems to be the “big hit” when they need it most and that tends to be the most depressing thing of all.
We’ve been spoiled with those clutch Yankee teams in the late ’90s and having that “big hit” at exactly the right moment. These Yankees are nothing like those teams in the late ’90s. They are mostly veteran players, players who have hit their prime and we are simply expecting them to perform as they did as rookies.
But, unfortunately, the magic starts to run out. Even those who were fantastic in their prime have difficulties when it comes with aging in the game. And that is ultimately what the Yankees are facing this season.
Some bright spots from the first half include Carlos Beltran, Didi Gregorius and the Big Three. Other than that, things have been fairly up and down. In the first half of the season, no Yankees player has surpassed the .300 mark for batting average. Currently, Beltran stands at .299 and Didi’s recent surge has landed him at .298 for the first half.
Beltran served as the Yankees’ most reliable presence at the plate. Didi, despite starting the season with baserunning and fielding errors, has come into his own and showed that he was the perfect fit for New York in the post-Jeter era. The Big Three flexed their muscles and shut down opponents in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.
While there were certainly some negative things that happened in the first half of the season, it’s time to focus on the positive. There is a great chance that the Yankees can fall deeper into the hole or they can climb back up to first place.
Who knows? But the All-Star break is a time to regroup, refresh and prepare for one amazing second half of the season and that is exactly what the Yankees should plan on doing.