New York Yankees 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 95-67

Player 2012 Player 2012
C Russell Martin 2.3 SP1 CC Sabathia 6
1B Mark Teixeira 4.5 SP2 Michael Pineda 3.7
2B Robinson Cano 5.7 SP3 Hiroki Kuroda 3
SS Derek Jeter 1.8 SP4 Ivan Nova 2.5
3B Alex Rodriguez 3.5 SP5 Freddy Garcia 1.3
LF Brett Gardner 4.6 CP Mariano Rivera 2
CF Curtis Granderson 4.9 RP David Robertson 1.4
RF Nick Swisher 3.9 RP Rafael Soriano 1.5
DH Raul Ibanez 1.2 RP Boone Logan 0.5
Bench Andruw Jones 1.2 RP Cory Wade 0.4
Bench Francisco Cervelli 0.4 RP Phil Hughes 1
Bench Eduardo Nunez 0.2 RP Joba Chamberlain 0.5
Bench Eric Chavez 0.3 David Aardsma 0
Bench Brandon Laird 0
Austin Romine 0.4
Bill Hall 0
Russell Branyan 0
34.9 23.8

The Yankees are getting older, but they made some improvements over the offseason, enough for me to project them to have the best record in baseball in 2012. They acquired two above average starters to shore up their rotation, and their lineup is still filled with multiple all-stars. The AL East is close, but as of right now the Yankees still have an edge over the Rays and the Red Sox.

Russell Martin returns behind the plate for his second season in New York. He’s not the player that he was the first couple years of his career, but he still hits enough to be average or a bit better. Mark Teixeira is at first, and his numbers have been heading in the wrong direction in the last few seasons. His walk and K rate haven’t really changed, but his BABIP has been steadily declining, which could be a factor of him pulling the ball into the shift. He’s still a good player, but he’s turning 32 right away, so his best years are already behind him. Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter return up the middle, with Alex Rodriguez at third. The latter two are in decline, while Cano should be able to repeat his performance over the last 2 seasons. Jeter was about league average last year, which was better than I thought he would do, but I still project him to be below average this year. Rodriguez’s bat obviously isn’t what it used to be, but he’s still productive when healthy. The problem is just that though, in that he’s had trouble staying on the field over the last few seasons.

Even though Brett Gardner is a superior fielder, he will continue to play in left, while the Yankees start Granderson in center. Gardner is one of the best fielding outfielders in baseball, and combined with his average offense it makes him a pretty valuable player. Granderson meanwhile, won’t repeat his career year but could still hit 30-35 homers. Nick Swisher will start in right, and he’s been streaky, but productive over the last couple years. His walk rate rebounded in 2011 to above 15% from 2010 when it fell to 9%; well below his career norm. This, combined with his slightly above average defense makes him valuable, and he’s also hit 21 or more homers in 7 straight seasons. The Yankees traded their likely starting DH in Jesus Montero in order to acquire Michael Pineda, and instead they’ll have a platoon of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. Ibanez hit .256/.307/.440 against righties last year, while Jones hit .286/.384/.540 against lefties. The combination should be half-decent, although it wouldn’t be completely out of the question for Ibanez to drop below replacement level. Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez and Eric Chavez will be on the bench, with Bill Hall and Russell Branyan competing for spots as well.

The biggest area of improvement for the Yankees in the offseason was their rotation, when they turned it from a question mark into a strength in the span of 24 hours when they acquired Michael Pineda from the Mariners and then signed Hiroki Kuroda. CC Sabathia is the ace, and has been worth at least 5 fWAR in each of the last 6 seasons. Ivan Nova had a solid rookie year in 2011, and even if he wasn’t as good as his record indicated, he should still be pretty decent in 2012. Pineda has a lot of upside, and I think he’ll improve on last season’s numbers, even with moving to the AL East. Kuroda will be moving to less pitcher friendly confines as well, but I think he has a good chance of still being a 3 win pitcher. Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes will compete for the last spot. Hughes obviously has more upside, but Garcia was surprisingly decent last year, so either could end up in the spot.

Mariano Rivera is back for likely his last season as the Yankees closer, even though his performance has shown virtually no signs of decline. David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Boone Logan combine with Rivera to form a very strong back end of the bullpen, and when you throw in Cory Wade and Garcia or Hughes, it’s a big strength for the team.

The Yankees upgraded their rotation in the offseason which solidified a team that was already in competition for the division. That upgrade sets them atop the AL East, although they’re only a couple games ahead of the Rays and Red Sox.

Offseason Acquisitions: Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda

Offseason Losses: Jesus Montero, Jorge Posada, Bartolo Colon, AJ Burnett, Hector Noesi, Luis Ayala, Sergio Mitre, Raul Valdes, Scott Proctor

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