The Yankees have played 44 games through Wednesday night, roughly 27 percent of their 2012 schedule. And, for all the coverage their struggles, both offensively and on the mound, have garnered this year, the Bombers sit at 23-21, just a half-game behind the cutoff for a postseason berth.
But on this day off, let’s forget about that for a moment and accentuate the positive.
Taking a page from the annual MLB Awards, here are the five men that would win (at least in this blogger’s mind) the Yankees’ “First Quarter Awards” in a handful of categories.
MVP: Derek Jeter. Sure, Curtis Granderson leads the team in homers, and Raul Ibanez has been a revelation in the middle of the lineup. But The Captain has made it happen all year, and has carried over his stellar second half of 2011 into April and May to the tune of a .348 average through Wednesday. He is also tied (as of Thursday morning) with former teammate Melky Cabrera for the MLB lead in hits and has now what would be the second-highest slugging percentage of his career.
Cy Young: CC Sabathia. If Andy Pettitte had more than three starts, he might be the choice. But barring him, Sabathia has been the rotation’s rock, going 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 64.1 IP so far. The ace’s starts haven’t all been the prettiest, but he averages over seven innings per and has the best ERA on the staff of those who have taken the ball every fifth day all season long.
Delivery Man (Reliever): Cory Wade. This may come as a surprise, given that Mo was Mo in April, David Robertson has been great save for one or two appearances, and Rafael Soriano has gotten the job done as a closer in their absences. But, after a rough spring, Wade has flown under the radar while having a very strong first seven weeks. His 2.18 ERA is second among Yankees relievers to Rivera's 2.16, and he sports both a sub-1.00 WHIP and a 7.67-1 K/BB ratio. Wade will continue to have more chances to shine in a big spot as long as Robertson is sidelined, so it's up to him to continue to prove that he deserves this recognition.
Rookie: Raul Ibanez. Even though he was one of the last pieces of this year’s puzzle to be added, Ibanez has been a keystone so far. He has held his own in the outfield, and in just 118 at-bats – the seventh-most on the team – Raul has hit nine home runs and is tied for the team lead with 27 RBI. Ibanez has averaged a .280-24-94 line over the last decade, and is well on his way to getting there again in 2012.
Comeback Player: Andy Pettitte. No surprise here, as Pettitte looks like he never left, notching a 2-1 record, 2.53 ERA, and two quality starts so far. Granted, I’m not real sure there’s anyone else on the team who would qualify for this award, but it would still be an easy choice.
These, of course, are just my unofficial choices...do you agree or disagree?