Our very own Matt Hunter posted about the PECOTA’s projections for the regular season. In these projections, the Yankees are supposed to finish first in the American League East by a comfortable six games with 92 wins In his article Matt clearly explains how these projections aren’t a sure thing. However, these projections may have some truth to them. Let’s take a look to see if these projections are appropriate.
The Yankees are going to be without a few of their most talented players this year. While New York is gaining Mariano Rivera back they have lost quite a few key names from 2012. These names include Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin, and Rafael Soriano, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez just to name a few. This team is not as good as last season despite some nice additions. It’s going to be hard to repeat 95 wins in 2013 with all these guys leaving. Last year Nick Swisher was arguably the Yankees second best hitter to Cano. Swisher posted a 3.9 WAR with a .363 wOBA according to the good folks at Fangraphs.
Not only did the team lose valuable players the team is aging. Can you expect Derek Jeter to lead the league in hits this year coming off an injury? Or how about Hiroki Kuroda duplicating his 2012 season? I’m not sure you can rely on these guys to maintain that level of play for another year. Baseball is a numbers game and that means a players high production will likely regress towards the mean. An athlete’s biggest enemy is his age. No one can escape the inevitable meeting with father time. It may be Jeter’s turn.
Rob Neyer did a run down of the Yankees potential lineup last month. I agree with his predictions on how the team will fair in his quick positional assessment.
Let me run through each lineup position, with last year’s and this year’s regulars and a short-hand prediction:
Catcher – Russell Martin / Chris Stewart (down)
1st Base – Mark Teixeira / Mark Teixeira (same)
2nd Base – Robinson Cano / Robinson Cano (same-ish)
Short Stop – Derek Jeter / Derek Jeter (down)
Third Base – Alex Rodriguez / Kevin Youkilis (same-ish)
Left Field – Raul Ibanez / Brett Gardner (up)
Center Field – Curtis Granderson / Curtis Granderson (same)
Right Field – Nick Swisher / Ichiro Suzuki (down)
D. Hitter – Eric Chavez, etc. / Etc. (down)
Aside from left field the Yankees are most likely going to either be similar to regress at each position. Guys like Cano could always have those once in a career years. It’s also possible Kevin Youkilis outplays 2012 A-Rod. As of now we just don’t have an idea of how good this team could be. Unless an unlikely hero shows up during the season, the Yankees are going to be relying on about 3-4 guys to play ridiculously well. What scares me the most is catcher and right field. There are no major league ready catchers on this team as of now. This is scary because with Martin the Yankees had a defensive catcher who could hit for power at times. In rightfield, the team downgraded from Swisher to Ichiro. I love what Ichiro’s about and all, but a two year deal was the wrong move. This was the guy going through a decline at the end of his Seattle days only to be reinvented with the Yankees. Ichiro is running on fumes. I doubt this is sustained for two seasons.
This team could very well be a 92 win team if all goes well. In a well rounded American League East that should be good enough to get at least a Wild Card birth.