The Yankees' best defender and most electric player on the basepaths is on the disabled list. So are the team's two best pitchers. Alex Rodriguez is a shell of his MVP self. They traded away their top prospect over the winter for a pitcher who hasn't thrown a pitch in 2012.
Oh, and the Yankees have the best record in baseball.
First the bad: Only two members of the regular lineup have batting averages above .269: Robinson Cano at .313 and Derek Jeter at .308. But what the team has lacked in contact this season, they've made up for in power. Seven Yankees have hit at least 11 home runs. Cano, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson each have at least 49 runs and 48 RBIs. Alex Rodriguez hasn't produced a typical season, but has the second-highest on-base percentage in the starting lineup. Cano is a legitimate MVP candidate and Jeter is picking up where he left off in the second half of last season. This team sends out a dangerous set of hitters that could become more of a minefield if Rodriguez picks up his power numbers and Russell Martin becomes less of a black hole.
CC Sabathia will start Tuesday after being sidelined with a groin injury, and he's been the consistent ace of the staff through the first half (9-3, 3.45 ERA). Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.50) has adjusted to the AL East after a rocky start. Ivan Nova's 3.92 ERA and early performance was troubling, but all he does is win, posting a 10-3 record at the break. Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3-22) was a boost to the staff for awhile, but he'll be on the shelf with a fractured left ankle and isn't expected back until late August--at the earliest. When he does return, he could provide a huge postseason edge. Phil Hughes (9-7, 4.33) has progressed as the season has gone on and David Phelps and Freddy Garcia have been competent fill-ins when injuries struck.
Andruw Jones is looking like the Jones of old, hitting .244 with 11 home runs in just 127 at-bats. Eric Chavez (.282 average, seven home runs) can spell A-Rod at third or Teixeira at first without losing much offense. DeWayne Wise had an amazing week, and is hitting .260 with three homers. Jayson Nix has some pop. Chris Stewart (.256 average) is hitting better than Martin and has seen his playing time increase. He's become CC Sabathia's unofficial personal catcher.
The Yankees lost their Hall of Fame closer for the season and then his replacement was injured shortly thereafter. The rest of the bullpen shrugged. Rafael Soriano (2-0, 1.60 ERA, 20 saves) has looked as good—and comfortable—as he did with Tampa Bay in 2010. David Robertson has an amazing 14.59 strikeouts per nine innings. Boone Logan (4-0, 3.77 ERA, 11.90 K/9) has blossomed into a top lefty specialist. Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley were low-cost pieces who've been big contributors. Cory Wade had a great start to the season, and when he went south, the team picked up Chad Qualls. It's a fluid group, but one that's been dominant in getting the job done.
Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Jayson Nix all have a negative UZR/150—a stat used to measure a player's ability to get to batted balls in his zone. That's a pretty big deal, considering two of the positions: shortstop and center field. Some of that is due to a lack of Brett Gardner. The speedy left fielder would have accounted for almost all of Ibanez's time in left and helped Granderson out by covering more ground in the outfield. Overall the Yankees rank 22nd in UZR/150. But they are 7th in fielding percentage, meaning when they get to a ball, they at least know what to do with it.
Joe Girardi is managing a team without speed (thanks to the loss of Gardner) and with a declining cleanup hitter. He's managing a team that lost its two top starting pitchers for at least two weeks and lost an up-and-coming flame thrower before the season even began. His bullpen has been wrecked by injuries. And the Yankees have the best record in the majors at the All-Star break. This one is pretty easy.
The Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda swap hasn't worked out in the short term, but Montero isn't necessarily killing it out in Seattle, either. Brian Cashman did lure Pettitte out of retirement and sign a host of contributors for little to mid-range money: Kuroda, Nix, Jones (re-signed), Ibanez, Chavez (re-signed), Garcia (re-signed). And bullpen additions Eppley and Rapada could have been had by any team. The Yankees picked them up.
The Yankees have the best record in the majors. If a few offensive players produce up to their career rates and the pitching staff gets healthy, there's no reason to think this team won't go deep into the playoffs.