They have the best record in the American League at 57-31 despite not having Luis Severino and Dellin Betances at all and missing Giancarlo Stanton for essentially the entire first half.
All-Star DJ LeMahieu is a bona fide MVP candidate and Gio Urshela has taken the sting out of losing Miguel Andujar early in the season. Despite a recent slump, Gary Sanchez was an All-Star and has made good on a vow to be better this year than he was last year. The rotation has been up and down, but likely will get an upgrade before the July 31 trade deadline. Even without Betances, the bullpen has been very good.
Here is how The Post graded the Yankees in the first half.
When the Rockies didn’t have the money to retain LeMahieu, the Yankees pounced on the second baseman, who has turned into a legitimate MVP candidate with the bat and has provided flexibility by also playing third base and first base. Voted onto the AL All-Star team as a starter at second base, LeMahieu leads the league in batting average (.336) and with average with runners in scoring position (.462).
The gas-throwing lefty can opt out of the final two years of his contract (and $30 million) after this season. And though the free-agency landscape has drastically changed, if Chapman does after the break what he did before it, he could roll the dice. Converted 24-of-27 save chances and was an All-Star.
At 22 and in his second big-league season, Torres is a two-time All Star at second base who filled in very well at shortstop when Didi Gregorius was on the IL. It took two injuries to get Torres on the All-Star team this year, which is hard to fathom. Has a chance to be a star in the Yankees’ infield for a very long time.
The staff leader in wins (10) missed almost a month with a hip flexor injury, which might have been the reason behind a three-start stretch from May 26 to June 7 during which he had an 8.59 ERA and hitters batted .323. From April 1 to May 21, the right-hander was 9-1 in 10 games (nine starts) with a 2.60 ERA and held hitters to a .185 average.
You always know the right-handed reliever with a plus fastball and Bugs Bunny changeup is around in the clubhouse because shyness isn’t one of his traits. Unlike last year, when he was injured and ineffective, he has pitched very well, limiting hitters to a .183 average and 23 hits in 34 innings. The changeup is a lethal weapon — even to right-handers.
Only the uninformed dismiss what Romine has meant to the Yankees. When evaluating a backup catcher, flush all the numbers. Judge them by what they do on the days they catch. Romine is among the best backup catchers in the game. Tough guy who plays through injuries and a better hitter than his .231 average indicates.
Played in 42 games before landing on the IL on June 23 with a strained left calf. Provided a big boost as a regular outfielder or off the bench. Hit .314 with five homers, 14 RBIs and a .391 on-base percentage. Very popular in the clubhouse.
Fifty-three base runners in 40 innings is too much for a reliever who works a lot toward the game’s back end. The right-hander has issued 27 walks and given up 26 hits. Due to a wipeout slider, however, he has 55 strikeouts and hitters are batting just .184 against him.
After Stanton went on the IL on April 1 and Aaron Judge went down on April 20, Voit filled the power void. By June 2, he had 15 homers and 39 RBIs. From then until going on the IL on July 2, Voit hit just two homers and drove in 11 runs, but hit .312 with a .902 OPS. Defensively, he is still average, but better than he was a year ago.
Didn’t get off the IL until June 7, and in the first seven games, he looked like he was never gone: He hit .346 and had an on-base percentage of .370. He dipped after that, but Gregorius took a .275 batting average into the All-Star break with elite defense.
When the season opened, he was viewed as minor league insurance at third base, where he was considered a far-above-average fielder with a questionable bat. When Andujar was lost to season-ending shoulder surgery, the Yankees gave Urshela a crack at regular work, and he entered the break hitting .304 and shining defensively at third. Some of his team-leading 12 errors are on plays that other third basemen don’t get to.
There were two ways Sanchez could go after a horrific 2018, when he led the majors in passed balls and hit .186 in 89 games: He could either bounce back or sink. Based on his 24 homers, 57 RBIs and an improved ability to block balls, Sanchez has put himself in the conversation about the game’s best power hitters. A Gold Glove isn’t in his future, but this year’s Silver Slugger is a good bet.
Limited to 33 games due to an oblique strain, Judge hit .271 with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 118 at-bats and supplied Gold Glove-quality defense in right field. With Stanton out indefinitely, Judge needs to stay on the field and produce to keep the Yankees atop the AL East.
There have been bouts of wildness, but the overall body of work has been solid in front of Chapman. A ratio of 26 strikeouts to 20 walks in 37 innings needs to improve.
For whatever reason, his signature split-fingered fastball hasn’t been as sharp or effective as in past seasons, and he will be the first to tell you he can pitch better. Named an All-Star as an injury replacement, the right-hander was 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA in a staff-leading 18 starts.
In his final season, the veteran left-hander takes a 5-4 record and a 4.03 ERA into the second half along with a desire to help the Yankees reach the World Series for the first time since they won it in his initial season with the team in 2009. He opened the season on the IL to give his right knee time to get ready and missed almost a month bridging May and June with inflammation in the hinge.
When camp opened, the question was how much Gardner would play with Stanton installed in left and Aaron Hicks in center. Well, Gardner has appeared in a team-high 84 of the Yankees’ 87 games. An 11-for-30 hot streak in the week before the break pushed his average from .231 to .246. With 14 homers, he is on pace to surpass his career high of 21.
After signing a seven-year, $70 million deal in spring training, he missed most of camp and didn’t come off the IL until May 13. The power started to come around the week before the break, and Yankees will need it consistently starting Friday. Continues to rank among the best center fielders.
He doesn’t knock you out with tools, but the left-handed-hitting outfielder is a very good fit on this team and the decision-makers favored him over Clint Frazier because he can catch and throw the ball.
The right-hander, who was out of options, made the team out of spring training and has been inconsistent. Provides length out of the bullpen and 43 strikeouts in 41 ²/₃ innings is good, but the 4.75 ERA needs to shrink.
Grade him in two installments. The opening act was so bad, the right-handed reliever was sent to Triple-A on April 24 with a 16.43 ERA to work on mechanical issues. The second? A whole lot better. In 19 games since May 12, Green has posted a 2.25 ERA, and the Yankees were 16-3 in those games. Used in the awkward role as an “opener’’ seven times, Green performed well. With no need for an opener now that German is back in the rotation, Green deepens the Yankees’ bullpen.
From June 2 to June 16, Frazier hit .333 with a .377 on-base percentage and an .877 OPS, and the Yankees sent him to Triple-A to make room for Edwin Encarnacion. In 53 big-league games, Frazier hit .283. However, his defense has gone from average to poor. His biggest value to the Yankees at this point is a club with pitching to trade still believing Frazier’s bat will more than make up for his fielding issues.
In 17 starts, the veteran lefty is 7-4 with a 5.02 ERA, but the Yankees are 12-5 in those games. That isn’t the only puzzling data. In seven starts from March 31 to May 4, Happ went 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA, and the Yankees went 4-3. From May 9 to July 4, Happ made 10 starts, the Yankees went 8-2, and he was 6-1 despite a 5.08 ERA.
Acquired from the Mariners to be a front-end starter, something the Yankees still are searching for. Missed nearly a month with an inflamed left knee and didn’t pitch great when activated from the IL, posting a 4.89 ERA in eight starts in which the Yankees went 4-4. Has pitched better in the past two outings with a 2.25 ERA.
Has played in 15 games since being acquired from the Mariners, not a big enough sample to form a definitive opinion on the right-handed-hitting DH/first baseman. Aaron Boone says despite a .131 batting average as a Yankee, Encarnacion makes pitchers work, which helps other hitters. Twenty-one homers and 49 RBIs for the Mariners in 65 games show that he isn’t done, but the first impression in pinstripes hasn’t been good.
Appeared in 31 games and proved that records (5-2) mean nothing for a middle-inning reliever by posting a 6.81 ERA. In 35 ²/₃ innings, the right-hander allowed 40 hits and issued 11 walks.
Limited to nine games due to two stints on the IL. And nobody really knows when he’s coming back. But becomes an important part when he does.
With injuries to big-name players dominating the first half of the season and robbing Boone of Severino, Betances and Stanton, the second-year manager has held it together with his positive attitude and handling of a bullpen that needs reinforcements before the July 31 trade deadline.
Getting MVP candidate LeMahieu for two years and $24 million was the steal of the offseason. Bringing back Sabathia, Happ and Britton were good moves. Who knew getting Urshela last year from the Blue Jays would mean so much. A small move like acquiring Maybin paid off well.