New York Yankees: Just How Well Are Their Injury Replacements Playing?

Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

Let’s play a game. You’ve probably played it before. I’ll line up a few stat-lines without the player’s name for whom they represent. The point is for you to make a judgment on that player’s quality without associating their history and their “name”. Here’s the first group:

Player A; 31 games played – 27 H, 4 HR, 17 RBI, .221 BA, .645 OPS
Player B: 28 games played – 23 H, 6 HR, 18 RBI, .284 BA, .976 OPS
Player C: 30 games played – 24 H, 5 HR, 15 RBI, .238 BA, .736 OPS

These are the stats through the New York Yankees’ first 32 games, whether it be 2012’s first 32 games or 2013’s. In 2012, the Yankees were 18-14 at this point. This year, they’re 19-13. Want to know who’s who?

Well, the first line is Mark Teixeira, who will be paid $22.5 million this year as part of his eight-year, $180 million contract.

The second? $2 million man Travis Hafner.

The third? Lyle Overbay, who will costs the Yanks $1.25 million this year.

This isn’t to belittle Teixeira or call him overpaid, overvalued, a disappointment, or whatever every Teixeira critic likes to call him; he’s a successful lifetime slugger with what I consider the best glove among first basemen in MLB. He might be slightly overpaid, but he’s produced a lot during his time in pinstripes.

These stat lines are to highlight how valuable and successful the Yankees’ temporary replacements have been. We know they’re surprisingly winning, but this shows that these 1B/DH adjuncts are, currently, producing just as much as the regular produced last year.

Hafner’s, or, depending on your stance with the Yanks, Pronk’s, batting average dwarfs Teixeira’s through the Yankees’ first 32 games, he’s hit two more homers, driven in one more, and boasts an OPS 151 percent of Texeira’s. He’s producing in the clutch and feasting on the short porch in the Bronx’s right field. He doesn’t even really need to bring a glove to the ballpark, but hey, that’s why they have Overbay.

Complementing Pronk’s power bat, Overbay provides the steady glove Teixeira lugged down to Tampa. Overbay can’t pick it like Teixeira can — nobody can except maybe James Loney — but sabermetrics might disagree. According to FanGraphs, Overbay’s UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating in runs above average over 150 games) in 2013 is 13.3, which is 0.4 better than the 12.9 Teixeira sported in 2012.

Fielding metrics are flawed, but Overbay is wielding stud leather. Five homers isn’t too bad, either.

Let’s look at another set. Again, they’re the stat-lines through the Yankees’ first 32 games.

Player A: 30 games played – 32 H, 10 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB, 2 CS, .274 BA
Player B: 30 games played – 33 H, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB, 0 CS, .287 BA

This one has less girth than the last. Curtis Granderson is the first, Vernon Wells the second.

Granderson — worth $15 million this season — provided an irreplaceable, porch-owning power bat in the middle of the Yankees lineup last year, but Wells is the biggest Yankee surprise of 2013. The $11.5 million is still steep, but the Yanks should still be LOL’ing at the Los Angeles Angels and the $9.5 million they’re paying Wells this year.

Wells is stealing bases, blasting homers, hitting for a high average, and even filling in at third base in moments of crisis. In case you haven’t seen any Yanks games this season, he’s kind of New York’s Superman.

Even if he doesn’t contribute at the levels he is now, if Wells sticks around next year, $18.6 million of his $22 million 2013 salary will be paid by the AngeLOLs.

As a Yankee fan, it’s blasphemous to ever compare anyone to Derek Jeter. In sabermetrics I trust, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think having an iconic leader like Captain Jeets in the middle of the infield doesn’t definitely have an effect on the team and the fans and Yankees success.

It does. The Yanks aren’t the Yanks without him. They have no replacement for Jeter — Jayson Nix is hitting .232 with a .281 OBP and Eduardo Nunez is a butcher at short — but the rest of the Yankee replacements are doing an awesome job holding things firm until reinforcements arrive. And once they do, there will be a slugging lefty off the bench and a rejuvenated former All-Star complementing the roster.

If the Yanks fix their bullpen problem, they’ll be the Bronx Bombers again … and possibly even better than last year. Beware, Yanks haters.

Follow Nick Tom on Twitter @NickTomFB for more awesome baseball analysis

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