New York Yankees' Vernon Wells Turning Back Clock In Opening Week

By Thom Tsang
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Is there something about the Bronx and Yankee stadium that turns seemingly over-the-hill outfielders back to the players they used to be? Nobody really quite knows, but it sure is working for the New York Yankees and much-maligned outfielder Vernon Wells.

The team’s temporary solution to their left field problem has been a surprising factor, having been a part of the counting numbers on the scoreboard in four out of five games that he’s played this week.

Though it wasn’t quite the vintage three-hit performance from Wednesday, Wells once again announced his presence that in the team’s victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, notching his fifth hit of 2013 — a double off Phil Coke — and setting himself up to score a key back-breaking fifth run in the eighth inning that put the game that much further out of reach.

No, it hasn’t been quite enough to hold the Yankees back from a 2-4 start to the season; but at this point in his career, mere participation in the game could be considered something of a minor revelation.

Here’s the thing: after a pair of sub-.700 OPS seasons that reduced the former All-Star to the game’s most expensive bench player, it’s very easy to be critical of Wells, and one good week — in fact, even one good month — is not going to be enough to make those doubts go away.

That said, his early-season small sample numbers are sure fun to play with. Wells is now sitting on a .294/.429/.706 triple slash after 17 at-bats, and his 1.134 OPS is something that hasn’t been seen in his career line since his torrid start in 2010, which also happened to be the 34-year old’s last productive season.

A week’s worth of at bats isn’t an accurate indicator of that, of course, and history says that it probably won’t last. That said, the Yankees won’t necessarily need it to, as they’ll have Curtis Granderson back in a matter of a few more weeks.

So, even if it’s not sustainable, Wells don’t necessarily have to keep it up for very much longer; and if he can do that, even the biggest skeptic would have to say that the (rather expensive) project would be considered a success, no?

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