Yankees Player of the Week: Week 1
The New York Yankees had a solid week going 4-2 after 2 losses to open the season in Tampa. I discounted the first two games since then it would be over a week of evaluating. With that being said my Yankees player of the week for week number 1 is Hiroki Kuroda. I will try to give starting pitchers just as much love as everyday players in this award, since they most likely will only get to pitch once a week in most cases.
It came down to Kuroda, Derek Jeter, David Phelps, and Nick Swisher for this week’s award.
The Case for Jeter - Jeter hit .370 for the week with 1 HR and 3 RBI. He set the tone for the Yankees sweep in Baltimore with leadoff hits in all 3 games including a HR. In fact, Jeter is an incredible 6 for 8 leading off games this year.
The Case for Phelps – Phelps would have gotten more consideration had the Yankees offense helped him out and came back in yesterday’s game. I know that is not his fault, but with his best performance coming in a blowout, I could not give it to him. He also had a great outing against Baltimore, along with a terrific job of saving the bullpen after Phil Hughes hit the showers early yesterday.
The Case for Swisher - Swisher hit .261 for the week with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and had two big clutch hits during the week. The first was a game winning home run on Thursday in Baltimore to break a 4-4 tie in the 10th inning. The second was a bases clearing 3 run triple in the 1st inning of the home opener on Friday.
The Case for Kuroda - There was a lot of talk about Kuroda going into the home opener after his failure during his Yankees debut. Most of it centered on how he would not be able to make the switch from the NL to the AL. Eyebrows were also raised when he said he was nervous about starting the home opener. Kuroda proved all those doubters wrong on Friday in his start against the Angels. He was extremely dominant on the mound, pitching 8 shutout innings, allowing only 5 hits, and striking out 6. He tried for a CG shutout but was pulled after an infield single in the 9th. In addition, Kuroda did not allow a batter to get past 2nd base.
Kuroda barely even used his splitter which is his best pitch. Instead he primarily used his fastball, sinker, slider, and curve, and the sinker and slider were his most effective pitches. That is what is so great about Kuroda. He has multiple plus pitches and knows how and when to use them. Kuroda used that sharp sinker of his to induce 3 double play ground balls. He also pitched very quickly so he could assure that the fielders behind him would field to their potential.
I think Kuroda deserves the award this week because of the way he proved his doubters wrong in his domination of the Angels’ lineup on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, but feel free to disagree with me. Vote for who you think deserves the award and give your reasoning in the comment section.