Derek Jeter – NYY
The Captain is my all-time favorite player, so allow me a small pity party while I once again have to face the fact that he is getting older and nearing the end of his career. He’s not the Derek of five or ten years ago (obviously), but there’s absolutely no one I’d rather have at shortstop. Let’s hope Jeter’s post All-Star break production from last season carries over into this season.
Yunel Escobar – TOR
Escobar posted career highs in production numbers in 2009, racking up 14 home runs and 76 RBI with a slash line of .299/.377/.436. In the two years since then he has a combined 15 home runs and 83 RBI in a total of 1,010 at bats. Yipes. He projects to bounce back this year, and since he is only 29 years old it is certainly possible. But given Escobar’s recent history it’s hard to imagine the Jays getting any real production from Escobar.
J.J. Hardy- BAL
James Jerry Hardy is what you’d call a streaky player. Last year he hit 30 home runs and drove in 80 RBI. In 2010 he hit 6 home run and drove in 38 RBI. 2009: 11 HR and 47 RBI. 2008: 24 HR and 74 RBI. Get the picture? Trying to predict baseball can be risky business even in the best circumstances, but with Hardy it’s truly a crapshoot trying to project what he’ll do from one season to the next. If he performs as well at the plate over the next three years as he did in 2011 he’ll be worth the $22M Baltimore committed to him. If not, well… there have been far worse contracts.
Sean Rodriguez – TAM
Like Hardy, Rodriguez is also tough to project. But unlike Hardy, it is not because Rodriguez has a history of inconsistency. Rodriguez has only played two full seasons at the major league level, so there is always the possibility that he’ll have a break out year and surprise everyone. Far more likely, though, Rodriguez will give us more of the same; i.e. a .235ish average with 8-10 HR and 35-40RBI.
Mike Aviles – BOS
Aviles has played most of his career at second and third base, playing only 19 games in the last 2 years at shortstop. His production numbers up to this point haven’t been anything to write home about, but given the chance to start every day in Boston he could put together a pretty decent season.