The first half is in the books and its time to take a look back. The Yanks finished the first half with a 53-35 record, a game behind the Red Sox in the division. Considering the plethora of injuries the Yankees have endured (Soriano, Joba, Hughes, Jeter, A-Rod, Chavez, Feliciano, etc.), the team has exceeded expectations in my mind. The bullpen has been successfully rebuilt, the rotation has been great, the offense is third in total runs, and the team boasts two of the three top power hitters in the AL. Time to hand out first half report cards.

Christian Lopez, who caught Jeter's 3000th hit, gets an A

Starting Rotation

Let’s consider the circumstances pre-season. The Yankees came into the season with one, maybe two bankable options. CC Sabathia is about as bankable as it gets and many were ready for Phil Hughes to take the next step. Hughesy went down early and the rest of the rotation picked up the slack. Bartolo Colon, who was absolutely electric during Spring Training, has far surpassed even the craziest expectations, posting a 3.20 ERA and 7.9 K/9, his highest mark since 2001. Freddy Garcia is 7-6, but has a 3.13 ERA. AJ is well, AJ. He has some dominant performances and some stinkers, but that’s AJ. Ivan Nova, who has been a victim of Bart and Freddy’s superb performances, has looked good. CC is right up there with Jered Weaver in the AL Cy Young race. Overall, a rotation will some many question marks pre-season is showing a lot of poise. Time to keep it up in the second half.

Yankee Pitching Staff: B+

Bullpen

Yankee management thought that the trio of Jo-So-Mo would shorten games for their lackluster rotation. However, Joba has been lost for the season and Soriano is working his way back. Soriano has been terrible, posting an unsightly 5.40 ERA in 16 games. David Robertson wasted no time ascending the ranks into the eighth inning. Robertson, who made his first All-Star team, has been dynamite, posting a 1.27 ERA and an unheard of 14.3 K/9. Luis Ayala has been a quality option, posting a 1.33 ERA. Hell, even Cory Wade has been good. Mariano really needs no introduction, saving 22 games with a 1.85 ERA.

Overall, Yankee pitchers have the third best team ERA in baseball (3.50) and the bullpen is a big part of that impressive mark.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the bullpen pecking order when Soriano rejoins the club. Will Joe slide Soriano back to the 8th inning or leave his All-Star set-up man in there?

Yankee Bullpen: A-

Offense

The Yankee offense has scored the third most runs in the AL (454), despite playing four games fewer than their competition. The Bomber offense has cranked the most home runs (123) and is tied for first in walks (342). The Yankees have been more aggressive on the bases, swiping 81 bags (3rd most in AL). Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have been the lynch pins of the Yankee offensive, cracking 25 homers a piece. Granderson will start in CF for the American League.

Overall, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and Nick Swisher have been disappointing so far. Jeter is hitting .270 this season, A-Rod has launched only 13 home runs and will miss 4-6 weeks for a knee surgery. Swish is starting to come around, but his 10 HRs are disappointing. Cano is hitting .296 so far, but is a career .330 hitter in the second half of the season. Expect that average to come up.

Yankee Offense: B

The Yankees do have the best run differential in baseball (+121) and have had some nice surprises with their pitchers. Some key offensive players need to pick it up, but the team is playing good ball so far. The Yankees have played 49 of their 88 games at home, so they will be on the road for the majority of the second half. The Yankees do have the best road record in baseball (23-16) and will need to continue their success on the road. The Red Sox have beaten up the Yanks so far, but there’s a lot of ball to played. Buckle up for a fun second half and a run to the AL East crown.