A few Yankees mid-season awards to kick off this final day of the All-Star break. We’ll stick with some fairly standard categories.
Hard to go wrong with the team’s best hitter and only offensive all-star. A spurt of production heading into the break has Cano’s overall numbers back up to his essentially expected level. He’s on pace for the most home runs of his career, and he’s been the only true bright spot in an otherwise bleak middle of the order.
Next three on the ballot: Mariano Rivera, Hiroki Kuroda and Brett Gardner
The closer might be the sentimental pick — and no doubt, he’s been terrific — but Kuroda has been a legitimate No. 1 starter. Battling through five scoreless innings on Friday gave Kuroda, momentarily, the lowest ERA in the American League. He’s been a source of stability for a rotation that has badly needed it at times.
Next three on the ballot: Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, CC Sabathia
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Three fairly unique candidates for this one — a corner outfielder, long reliever and middle reliever — and all three have some reason to be in the mix, but we’ll go with Claiborne who’s emerged out of relative obscurity to be a reliable sixth-inning option. Recent struggles, though, are worth keeping in mind.
Next three on the ballot: Zoilo Almonte, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno
Funny thing is, when I typed in this category, I immediately typed Brett Gardner as the winner. Guess I’ve come to completely forget that Rivera was hurt last season, that’s how well he’s pitched. Rivera is making it clear that announcing his retirement is his only way out of the league. Looking like he never would have pitched his way out.
Next three on the ballot: Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, Lyle Overbay
The Yankees really had no spot for Abe Almonte in their minor league system, so they flipped him to Seattle in a spring trade for a largely unknown reliever who’d been designated for assignment. Kelley was a somewhat unexpected part of the Opening Day roster but has emerged as a potent strikeout pitcher and the Yankees third-best reliever.
Next three on the ballot: Preston Claiborne, Lyle Overbay, Vidal Nuno
Clearly the Yankees greatest disappointment has come from a series of injuries. Compared to what the Yankees were expecting, they’ve gotten — literally — next to nothing from Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis. But of the guys who have actually had a chance to live up to expectations, Hafner stands out as a guy counted on to provide some middle-of-the-order pop but settled for a lower slugging percentage than Brett Gardner.
Next three on the ballot: CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, Austin Romine *
* I’m considering Biggest Disappointment to be based on expectation and reality. These are not the worst players on the team, just the ones who were expected to be significantly better. A guy like Vernon Wells is basically playing to his numbers of the previous two seasons. Some guys have been asked to do more, but I’m not sure anyone should have expected more. And it goes without saying that the injured guys have been more disappointing, but I’m focusing on the guys who have actually played.
Associated Press photos