Yankees Final Report Cards, Part 1

In a follow-up to this year's Mid-Season report cards, I present you with the Final Report Cards. Find out if your favorite Yankee made the grade. We'll start things off with the infielders of your 2003 Yankees, in alphabetical order.

Aaron Boone: C-
When the Yankees traded their top prospect for Boone back on the July 31 trading deadline, they were expecting a versatile player that could hit for power and average, as well as run the bases and play the hot corner. What they got was a player whose numbers were clearly inflated by the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnatti. Boone's OPS dropped 88 points when he switched leagues, his strikeout numbers increased, and he made some rather lousy plays in the field. He gets extra credit for homering off of Tim Wakefield to end game six of the ALCS, but one hit doesn't make a player good. The only encouraging thing is that his steals stayed almost exactly the same after the trade, and his speed did, and will, come in handy in the Yankees' slow lineup.

John Flaherty: B+
Flaherty, like I've said before, is the ideal player to be a backup catcher on a team like the Yankees. Flaherty could start for most teams and is excellent defensively and average with the stick. A guy like Flaherty that can call good games and spell Posada occasionally is a luxury that almost any team would want. The one-time Devil Ray posted a respectable .754 OPS in just 105 at bats this season. He also caught 32 % of the runners that attempted to steal on him, a number that rivals Ivan Rodriguez' mark of 33%.

Jason Giambi: A-
Giambi didn't have as bad of a season as most people seem to think he did. His average slipped 64 points, but his on-base percentage only dropped 23 points. He also hit the same number of homeruns and drew a few more walks. The biggest problem was clearly his strikeouts, which have been an issue since he came to the east coast. Giambi has averaged 126 strikeouts per year as a Yankee, but only 89.5 in his last two years as an Athletic. That's something that Giambi will need to work on this offseason if he hopes to regain his former MVP candidacy. That all being said he did hit 41 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing that he still managed to stay productive despite injuries.

Derek Jeter: A-
Jeter's early season troubles didn't last very long. After missing all of April and some May with a shoulder injury, Jeter struggled in June. But he cranked it up by hitting .425 in July and putting himself in the mix for the AL Batting Title. He finished third in the race with a mark of .324. More than that, Jeter was the only Yankee besides Hideki Matsui that did well with runners in scoring position. The shortstop hit .353 with runners on and .330 with RISP. He was also 8/15 with the bases loaded. The only thing holding him back from an A was his defense as he committed 14 errors and finished with his lowest fielding percentage since 2000.

Nick Johnson: B
Johnson flashed signs of brilliance this season, but injuries and a few slumps – particularly toward the end of the season – made his final numbers less than stellar. Johnson is the kind of player that the Yankees need in the middle or top of their lineup. Not only can Johnson draw a walk with the best of them (his .422 OBP would have been third in the AL if he had qualified), but he also doesn't strike out much; no Yankee regular struck out fewer times. With strikeout-prone bats throughout the lineup, a contact hitter like Johnson will be a sight for sore eyes when he steps to the plate.

Jorge Posada: A
Posada was unquestionably the Yankees' MVP this season, and he's got a reasonable shot at becoming the first Yankee to win the AL MVP award since Don Mattingly took home those honors after the 1985 season. Posada reached the 30 HR/100 RBI plateaus for the first time in his career, improved his defense behind the plate, and was one of the few Yankees to be a consistent producer. Posada's excellent season can be attributed to a number of things, but one of the most glaring differences is his K:BB ratio. In 2002, it was 143:81, in 2003 he improved to 110:93. He ranked sixth in the AL in walks and fifth in on-base percentage. If Posada has done more to master the strike zone, then he could maintain this level of play for a few more years.

Alfonso Soriano: B+
Unlike the MVP voters, I count the postseason in my mind. Soriano had something like an amazing regular season, falling a just a bit short of a 40/40 season and becoming the third player in history to post back-to-back 35/35 seasons. Bust Soriano's problems have a knack for being more apparent than his gifts, particularly when they're displayed on baseball's biggest stage. If Soriano wants to continue at this high level of performance, he is going to have to either stop striking out so much or start walking more. A player can still be largely successful with a high strikeout rate, but not if they also refuse to draw a walk. If Sori doesn't work on this during the offseason, he's going to see more low and outside breaking pitches than any player in history and he's going to be providing breezes to all of the other team's infielders. Soriano has all the baseball talent possible, but that's only half the equation.

Enrique Wilson: C-
Wilson basically did what was expected of him in 2003 as a defensive replacement and utility player. Wilson didn't do it particularly well as he committed errors in several key situations, earning him the grade that he got here.

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