The Yankees have a two game lead in the American League East despite down production from Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and to some degree, C. C. Sabathia. Many stories have been written concerning Jeter and A-Rod and most include stories about their age. The other two have always been slow starters, but this year, the start has gone deeper into the season.
Derek Jeter had such a good season last season that this year looks terrible in comparison. But Jeter really turned it on in the second half last season. In fact, going back to this same June 24th of that season, he was sitting at his low point for the season in Average and On Base Percentage. From June 25 of last year until the end of the season, he raised his batting average 33 points and his OBP 37 points. In 2008, he had a similar phenomenon. From June 25th to the end of the season in 2008, Jeter raised his BA 22 points and his OBP 18 points. Jeter is a year older, but the fielding stats show him to be having one of his best fielding years in a long time. Jeter will come around. This Fan would bet on it.
Teixeira has already started to hit much better, but his early season sluggishness has gone on much longer than usual. Last year, his BA was much higher than it is now. But he did raise his OPS by 12 points from June 25 to the end of the season. It does not seem possible for Teixeira to reach his career norms by the end of this season. But if he simply hits his norms for the rest of the season, he'll be a big contributor to the Yankees from here on out.
At this point last year, C. C. Sabathia was 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA. The big lefty went 13-4 the rest of the way and lowered his ERA by 27 points. The year before that, Sabathia started 6-6 with Cleveland with an ERA of 3.83. He then went 11-2 with the Brewers and lowered his ERA to 2.70 for the season. Sabathia is already 8-3 this year with a better ERA at this point in the season than last season. His K/9 is exactly the same as last year. After looking at the numbers, this Fan might conclude that he hasn't started badly at all! He'll be fine.
The only one that isn't a good bet is Alex Rodriguez simply because his health hasn't seemed right for a while now. His range of motion is way down and he isn't getting to pitches he used to cream. But Alex Rodriguez was the best player in the game for so many years, it's hard to count him out. If he can at least match his last year's numbers for the rest of the season, it will be enough.
The Yankees have the best record in the majors to date, but they haven't even hit their stride yet. That's a pretty scary thought for the rest of the division.