New York Yankees corner infielder Chase Headley has been red-hot since the All-Star Break and one of the main reasons their playoff hopes remain alive.
The story of the first half of the season for the New York Yankees was undoubtedly Aaron Judge. His majestic home runs and ability to hit almost any pitch out of the ballpark and into orbit captivated the game. He was the most feared slugger at the break and looked like he was going to re-write the record books.
Then the All-Star Break and Home Run Derby happened, leading Judge into a disastrous slump…one which he is still trying to recover from. His power numbers have dropped and strikeouts have risen. Since this slump began, Judge has handed his gavel over to an unlikely candidate in Chase Headley.
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Since being traded to the Yankees back in 2014, Headley has failed to live up to expectations. The switch-hitting corner infielder finished in the top five in the NL MVP voting back in 2012, when he cranked 31 home runs and drove in 115 runs. In his three and a half seasons in pinstripes, however, Headley has only hit 42 long balls and drove in 184 runs.
The beginning of 2017 looked like another mediocre season for Chase Headley. A .251/.341/.366 slash line with four home runs and 36 runs batted in at the break, Headley was not helping as much as he or fans had hoped. But he has done a complete 180 since the All-Star Break, and has been arguably the Most Valuable Player for the Yankees during this second half.
Hits Means Wins:
Headley has been picking up the slack for some of his teammates during the second half of the season. In the 49 games he has played in after the All-Star break, Headley has been slashing .329/.398/.534 with seven home runs and 18 runs batted in. His 12 doubles also lead the Yankees in the second half.
Of players with at least 160 at bats, Headley’s .329 second half batting average is ninth best in the Major Leagues since the break. The Yankees are 20-12 when Headley records at least one hit in the second half, and 11-4 when he records multiple hits.
Not So Cy Young:
One of the more remarkable things about Headley’s second half surge is his success against the frontrunners for the American League Cy Young Award. Chris Sale and Corey Kluber are going to finish as the top dogs for the award and Headley has had success against each of them not only this season, but specifically in the second half.
While his .222 batting average against the two in the second half isn’t all impressive, he has done something no other player has. Chase Headley is the only player in the Major Leagues this season to hit a home run off of both Kluber and Sale. Both of those home runs either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead.
Not only off the Cy Young Award pitchers but Headley has also shown great success against high-quality pitchers. He is batting .500 off 2016 Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer. He owns Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello this season, batting a combined .415 against them.
Chase Headley has been flying under the radar in the second half this season. Aaron Judge’s first half and Gary Sanchez’s second half have overshadowed the production Headley has been contributing. He leads the Yankees in runs, doubles, average, on base percentage, and OBP in the second half.
Headley has been the Yankees Most Valuable Player in the second half of the season so far and is helping turn the docile Yankees into a major threat to win it all.