Key To The Yankees Offense In 2014
Mar 14, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (22) rounds third base and scores a run the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Even with the offense looking extremely sluggish during the first two games of 2014, there are not many people who think the New York Yankees will have trouble in the power department. This is, after all a lineup that has power at almost every position. If healthy, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran are all capable of pushing 30 homers. Jacoby Ellsbury should benefit from the short porch in right and be well over 20 dingers. If Alfonso Soriano can stay healthy and be any everyday player, he’s good for 20 longballs. Kelly Johnson has not hit fewer than 16 home runs since 2009. That’s a lot of power, and with the home runs, come RBI. But there is something about this Yankee offense that does not get much attention.
This is the first Yankee team in a long time, that will be a legitimate threat to steal bases. A lot of bases. The Bombers boast two of the premier base stealers in the American League. Jacoby Ellsbury led the majors in stolen bases last year, with 52. If used right, Brett Gardner can steal 40 bases a year in his sleep. These two weapons can be lethal on the base paths. Besides the two speedy outfielders, the rest of the Yankee lineup is full of guys that know how to steal a base when they have too. Is it fair to expect Soriano to steal 43 bases as he did in 2001? Or ask Beltran to match the 42 he swiped in 2001? Of course not. Brian Roberts isn’t going to match his 2007 number of 50. But that’s not the point. The Yankees are full of smart base runners that can figure out a way to advance without contact. Let’s play a numbers game.
Assume you can get 90 steals out of Gardner and Ellsbury. Lets say Soriano, Roberts, Beltran, Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki can average 10 a piece. That’s 140 Steals from 7 players. The Royals led Major League Baseball last year with 153 steals from their entire team. There is no reason to the think the Yankees can’t be in the 135-150 steals area.
Take two of the elite basestealers in all of MLB, and mix in a bunch of savvy veterans that used to be great base runners in their own right, and this team should be able to not only use the power in their bats to score runs, but also manufacture a run as good as any other team in the American League. Manufacture a run? Yeah, seems weird to me too.