If I told you before the season that Derek Jeter would have a worse batting average than Nick Swisher in the middle of June, you probably would have said “Are you crazy?”, or something of that nature.

Now that we are in the middle of June, and Swisher does have a higher batting average than Jeter, you have to wonder how the Yankees are in first place.

Well, to say the least, it has been quite an unusual year for the Bronx Bombers.

The Yankees have been thrust into first place by unexpected performances from players that you least expected a big year from.

Phil Hughes has been a major boost for the Yanks this year, now 10-1 on the season, which is the best record on the team. Hughes is arguably the best pitcher on the team, and has certainly been a big surprise for the Yankees.

Brett “the Jet” Gardner has become a big part of the Yankee offense this year. He is hitting .320, with 49 runs scored, and has swiped 23 bases in 28 attempts. His speed has been a refreshing new look for the Yankees.

Many Yankee fans, including myself, were very worried about not resigning Johnny Damon, but after the start that Gardner has had, I think we can all happily say “Johnny who?”.

Another player who has really come into his own and has official staked his claim as the best second baseman in baseball is Robinson Cano.

Not only is he leading the Majors in hitting, but he leads the Yankees in nearly every offensive category, hits, RBI, home runs—you name it he’s leading the way. Not to mention his 1.009 OPS for the season.

Nick Swisher is yet another player having a career year and giving the Yankees all that he can. Heading into tonight, Swisher is hitting a career high .298 (nearly 50 points higher than his career average), and has driven in 44 RBI to the tune of 11 home runs.

But the one that I think nobody saw coming, is ageless Andy Pettitte. After another strong outing last night, Andy is now 9-2 on the year, with a 2.48 ERA. He is having a career year at age 38 and just might get another shot at the Cy Young award.

Not too shabby for a guy who is on the brink of retirement every year.

So in a year when Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez and 90% of the bullpen have all struggled, I find it pretty amazing that the Yankees sit atop the AL East with the best record in baseball.

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