As the New York Yankees break camp for the 2014 season, they will have three new players in the critical ¨up the middle¨ positions. Will they be strong enough in these critical positions to bring home another World Series championship?
Any baseball purist knows the importance of being strong defensively up the middle. Next to starting pitching, there is no defensive area that has a bigger impact on keeping runs off the board.
Ellsbury gives them an upgrade in center. As tremendous as Brett Gardner has been in the time he has played there, Ellsbury has been perhaps even better. And there is no argument if a championship can be won with him in center. He´s done it. But this is not a competition. Having Gardner ready in case Ellsbury goes down to injury makes the Yankees very strong defensively in center.
At short, Jeter has looked healthy and ready this spring. His reported nutrition plan has him looking strong. There are those, of course, who quickly point to his range as a weakness. But no one can doubt The Captain´s ability to come up with big plays in the field in the post season. If it is Game 7 in the ninth inning, I´ll take Jeter anytime.
Moving over to second, Roberts has some interesting credentials. From 2007-2010, when he stayed in the lineup, Roberts helped turn 326 double plays. Despite his strong arm, Robinson Cano has decreased in this area in each of the last three seasons. So even though Roberts might not put up the offensive numbers of Cano, he gives the Yankees defensive strength.
That leaves McCann, who has consistently finished near the top in assists and put outs. Even more importantly, he has been a work horse, finishing near the top of the league in games caught.
So the Yankees are extremely strong up the middle. This helps make the starting rotation stronger, which in turn leads to less wear and tear on the bullpen.