Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #14: New York Yankees

Greetings everyone... the class of the AL East...


C - Russell Martin/Francisco Cervelli
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Robinson Cano
SS - Derek Jeter
3B - Alex Rodriguez
LF - Brett Gardner
CF - Curtis Granderson
RF - Nick Swisher
DH - Raul Ibanez/Rotating door of infielders

This is obviously one of the elite lineups in the Major leagues. Cano is the best 2nd basemen on the planet, and the best player in this lineup for 2012, as he comes off a season that saw him go for an .882 OPS with 28 HR and 118 RBI from a power-starved position like 2nd base. His absolute basement is a .295 hitter with 20 homers, and he could hit .330 with 35 homers. Outside of him, the Tex/Jeter/A-Rod combination isn't what it used to be, but it is still 3/4 of an elite offensive infield. A-Rod was banged up for most of 2011, but still mashed 16 homers in 373 ABs with an over .800 OPS, and he seems to be fully healthy. Tex derives great defensive value at 1st, and hit 39 homers last year despite his batting average plummeting south of .250. And then there's Jeter. The Captain got hot down the stretch last year, and still hit .297 even with his power reduced and his defensive range limited. He's certainly not the shortstop he used to be, but at a position that features virtually no offense league-wide, he's average at worst. In the outfield, they are also loaded. Gardner's speed is undeniable (49 steals), and he should be playing centerfield defensively, but as a left-fielder, he may be the best in the league defensively along with Gerardo Parra. Granderson had the best year of his career in 2011 with 41 homers and a .919 OPS, and while that's likely unsustainable, he's clearly capable of 30+ homers with 20+ steals from center field. Swisher is perpetually underrated, but he posted 23 homers and nearly 100 walks (.374 OBP) and is very solid. The DH spot is pretty fluid, as they signed Ibanez to hit there, but you'll see a ton of A-Rod and Jeter in that spot to save their legs. Elite lineup barring injury disaster.

Starting Rotation

1 - CC Sabathia
2 - Hiroki Kuroda
3 - Michael Pineda
4 - Ivan Nova
5 - Phil Hughes/Freddy

Don't look now... but the Yankees rotation is almost good. Last year, the Yanks won the AL East despite being basically awful after Sabathia, and this year, it's certainly upgraded. We'll start with CC, who has been one of the most consistently dominant guys in the league over the last decade with 2011 being no exception when he posted 237 innings of 3.00 ERA and 230 strikeouts to anchor that staff. Kuroda was brought in from the Dodgers on a short-term deal that I LOVED, as he's an older guy (37 years old), but he has a career WHIP of 1.19 and has never had an ERA as high as 4.00 in his entire career. He's not flashy and he doesn't strike anyone out, but that's a perfect middle-of-the-rotation guy for the Yanks. Pineda was acquired with a stiff price (uber-hitting prospect Jesus Montero), but comes in with high-end stuff, and he struck out over a batter per inning in 2011 as a rookie. His 3.73 ERA may go up as he transitions from Safeco Field to Yankee Stadium, but with run support, he's solid. Ivan Nova was the one pleasant surprise from 2011, as he was able to win 16 games and post a 3.70 ERA. If they can replicate that, that's more than enough. In the 5th spot, Hughes (more talent) and Garcia (more consistent) battle it out, with the early nod going to Hughes on his pedigree alone.


Well, we know who the closer is! Mo Rivera returns for his millionth season and hasn't slowed down yet. 44 saves, a sub-2.00 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP in 2011, and he's penciled in. David Robertson emerged as one of the best set-up men in the game last year, and while he won't match the ridiculous 1.08 ERA from last year, he'll be very good. Rafael Soriano returns "healthy" to provide a 7th inning option, and the rest of the pen (Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Cory Wade, etc.) is solid but unspectacular.


97-65, 1st in AL East

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