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Yankees 2010 Projections:Offense

By: Justin Diaz

As the 2010 season debut is a few days away, I thought it would be fitting to write an article with my projections for the season. To put it simply, these are educated guesses. I did not use any complicated sabermetric statistics such as line drive percentage, BABIP (batting average of balls in play), DIPS (defensive independent pitching statistics), or PENIS (percentage of erroneous numbers in statistics). Okay, maybe I made that last one up. But it really shocks me to see some of the statistics that some baseball writers, such as ESPN writer and sabermetrics obsessed Keith Law, use when comparing players. Sabermetrics bashing aside, here are my projections for the 2010 New York Yankees starting lineup.


SS, Derek Jeter:
What can I possibly say about the guy that hasn’t already been said a million times? Out of all of Derek Jeter’s well-documented skills, intangibles, etc., the thing that impresses me the most about him is his remarkable consistency. He just doesn’t seem to slump like the rest of baseball. Girardi deserves a lot of credit for moving him to the leadoff role, as Jeter flourished hitting at the top of the order. It’s hard to believe he’ll be turning 36 in June. With the way he keeps himself in shape, (don’t forget, he’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career) age will not be a concern for the Yankees captain.

2009 statistics: 18, 66, 107, .334/.406/.465, 30
2010 projection: 20, 70, 115, .340/.410/.470, 32
(home runs, RBI, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

DH, Nick Johnson:
Unfortunately for Nick Johnson, no matter how well he performs the question will always be the same. Despite the fact that he seemingly gains weight at an alarming rate, will his uniform continue to fit? Then there are also the questions concerning his health. If Johnson stays healthy, and that of course is a huge if, he will fit perfectly into the Yankees lineup. Although he never turned out to be the batting title champion that Don Mattingly claimed he would be several years ago, Johnson is a disciplined hitter who will get on base at a very high rate (.402 career on base percentage). With two of the best power hitters in baseball hitting behind him, both of those qualities will be valuable assets in the Yankees lineup.
Going off track a little bit, a common complaint I hear about the Nick Johnson signing is that he doesn’t have enough power to be a designated hitter. Simply put, it does not matter where production comes from. If your third baseman and first baseman each drive in over 120 runs, while you also have a second baseman, right fielder, center fielder, and catcher who can each drive in over 85, why does it matter if your DH doesn’t have power? The answer is simple; it doesn’t.

2009 statistics: 8, 62, 71, .291/.426/.405, 2
2010 projection: 14, 75, 112, .290/.415/.430, 0
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

1b, Mark Teixeira:
Mark Teixeira’s debut season in pinstripes was about as good as anybody could have hoped for. After a very slow start to the season, Teixeira caught fire right as Alex Rodriguez came back from the DL. Coincidence? Actually, yes. Sure, having A-rod in the lineup helps Teixeira (and everyone else in the lineup) quite a bit. But do you really think Teixeira would have hit .220 all year if Arod never came back? Regardless, Teixeira finished runner up for MVP and had a phenomenal season. It just bothers me that people give Arod more credit for Teixeira’s turnaround than Teixeira himself.

2009 statistics: 39, 122, 103, .292/.383/.565, 2
2010 projection: 43, 130, 115, .295/.390/.575, 2
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

3b, Alex Rodriguez:
2009 was a tough season for A-rod. He posted his lowest home run and RBI totals since 1997, and that was well before he hit his “growth spurt” with the Rangers. For awhile it seemed as if he wasn’t fully healed from offseason surgery. Still, he managed to finish with 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Then of course came his historic playoff run, perhaps the greatest postseason performance by any hitter of all time. For the first time in his Yankees career, A-rod can finally be at peace of mind. He no longer has to deal with the questions about his ability to hit in the clutch. Nobody seems to care about the steroid controversy anymore. He is starting the season completely healthy for the first time since 2007. But most importantly, he stopped dating 50-year-old singers who are well past their prime (musically and physically) and moved onto girls like Kate Hudson. All these factors point towards a monster year for A-rod.

2009 statistics: 30, 100, 78, .286/.402/.532, 14
2010 projection: 53, 145, 120, .310/.415/.615, 20
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

2b, Robinson Cano:
If I told you that your team’s second baseman would hit .320 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI’s, you would say, “That’s a great second baseman!”. The problem Yankees fans have with Robinson Cano is that he has the ability to do even more. This isn’t to say he’s not a good second baseman. You can make a strong case for him being the third best in baseball (behind Utley and Kinsler). It’s just frustrating to see a player with the potential to hit .345, 35 home runs and 100+ RBI’s fail to do so because of two problems (consistency and plate discipline) that plague him year in and year out. He’ll never be an ultra patient hitter, and that’s fine. But if he is ever going to take his game to the next level, he has to stop getting himself out by swinging at pitches that are way out of the zone.

Hitting fifth in the lineup, he must hit better with runners in scoring position. I’m sure he will, only because it’s very difficult to do as poorly as he did last season in this regard (.207 with runners in scoring position). Whether or not he excels in these spots remains to be seen. All of that said, I do think this is the year Cano brings his game to the next level. At 27 years old, he is at the age many hitters enter their prime. Being put into the fifth spot should motivate him to improve his game. Maybe it’s really more of a hunch than anything else. And since nobody will remember this by the end of the season, I am more than willing to make such bold statements.

2009 statistics: 25, 85, 103, .320/.352/.520, 5
2010 projection: 32, 105, 108, .330/.360/.530, 5
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

C, Jorge Posada:
Nobody has ever questioned Jorge Posada’s hitting ability. Since he has been the Yankees starting catcher, Posada has been one of the best hitters at the position. The question is, how much longer can he catch? Posada is turning 39 years old in August. Most catchers are out of the league by his age, so to say it is impressive that he is still performing so well would be a huge understatement. But it’s not a secret that Posada’s defensive skills are diminishing, and he wasn’t a particularly great defensive catcher to begin with. However, this is a question that the Yankees won’t have to answer until at least next offseason. The way I see it, that means I don’t have to either!

2009 statistics: 22, 81, 55, .285/.363/.522, 1
2010 projection: 22, 85, 60, .287/.365/.530, 0
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

CF, Curtis Granderson:
The acquisition of Curtis Granderson finally gives the Yankees a legitimate every day center fielder, something they have been searching for since the days of Bernie Williams. The problems people see with him are his low batting average and on base percentage. The fact that he has speed does not mean he has to be a singles hitter with a high on base percentage. If you look at his on base and slugging percentages from the past few seasons, he is more of a power hitter than anything. His RBI totals are much lower than they should be because he has been a leadoff hitter, a role he simply does not fit. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for some people to understand the fact that speed doesn’t always make somebody a leadoff hitter. Moving from more of a pitcher friendly ballpark to the home run heaven (particularly for lefties) that is Yankees stadium, Granderson’s home runs will go up. Add that to the fact that he is moving down in the order, there’s no reason to believe Granderson can’t hit 32-35 home runs and drive in close to 100 runs. Not bad for a seven hitter.

2009 statistics: 30, 71, 91, .249/.327/.453, 20
2010 projection: 34, 92, 102, .260/.340/.480, 24
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

RF, Nick Swisher:
Nick Swisher is going to give you the same thing every year. He’s going to hit close to 30 home runs and drive in a lot of runs. He’s going to walk a lot. He’s going to hit for a low average and strike out a lot. He’s going to make you think that he is drunk on multiple occasions. Yankees fans should gladly take that type of player as their eighth hitter.

2009 statistics: 29, 82, 84, .249/.371/.498, 0
2010 projection: 30, 85, 95, .245/.370/.500, 0
(home runs, rbi, runs, avg./obp/slugging, steals)

LF, Brett Gardner/Randy Winn
The Brett Gardner/Randy Winn platoon isn’t too bad. It’s always nice to have speed hitting ninth in the order. But I really do not want to hear anybody say, “Gardner’s going to break out this year!” anymore. He is a terrible hitter when he plays everyday, which is why Cashman brought Winn in to platoon. It wasn’t too long ago that Winn was a good hitter (he hit .306 two seasons ago), but I really wouldn’t expect too much from a 35-year old coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. With the amazing depth the Yankees lineup has, these two do not need to light the world on fire.

Gardner:
2009 statistics: 3, 23, 48, .270/.345/.379, 26
2010 projection: 2, 20, 35, .260/.330/.370, 22
Wynn:
2009 statistics: 2, 65, .262/.318/.353, 16
2010 projection: 3, 40, 265./.325/.360, 14

With the Red Sox and Rays both improving this offseason, the race for the divisional crown will be fun to watch. Coming off of 103 wins and a World Series championship, the Yankees will have all of the confidence in the world. With the moves that Cashman made over the offseason, I see no reason for the Yankees to have any kind of drop off from last year’s performance.

Vazquez gives them the quality fourth starter that they did not have last year. The losses of Damon and Matsui are basically negated by the additions of Granderson and Johnson. But perhaps the biggest factor of all is A-rod. As I mentioned earlier, he was clearly not 100% healthy for a large portion of last season. Having a completely healthy A-rod makes a huge difference for this already stacked Yankees lineup. As scary as it may be for the rest of the league, this Yankees team might be improved from last year’s team.

Yankees 2010 Projections:
Record: 108-54, A.L East Division Champions.
Playoff Results: 4-2 World Series victory over the Cardinals
Fans demanding a salary cap after the season: 5, 200, 000
Number of ESPN specials asking “Are the Yankees bad for baseball?”: 4 (Jeremy Schaap, Peter Gammons, Bob Ley, Tom Rinaldi)

click here for a column i previously posted with the pitching staff projections

3 comments:

  1. Let's just hope Cano can finally learn to hit with men in scoring position and that Nick Johnson can make it a whole season without getting hurt. With that said the offense is the least of the Yankees worries. And you missed the number of SportsCenter anchors who will make sarcastic comments every time the Yankees win and pretend they are baseball experts: 2 (Linda Cohn and Josh Elliot)

    And as a side note, Steve Phillips is now working for WFAN. He will appear weekly on Miked Up so that will be hysterical to see him deny they are good even after they clinch the division

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  2. I really see Gardner hitting like .240, but I think his stolen base total will be over 30

    Ernst

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  3. Your record prediction is good, but I see this year as being completely legendary. They have the talent to set the record for best record in Major League Baseball. Arod is going to absolutely dominate this year, he doesn't have anything to worry about. Granderson in the 7 hole is just ridiculous, his #'s at Yankee Stadium will be nuts. And Javier Vazquez could be a #2 on most teams.

    FINALLY THEY ARE LETTING JOBA STAY IN THE PEN. Let this guy breed to be the next best closer after Mo leaves. We've seen him dominate in the bullpen, so let's just keep him there cause why wouldn't you want to have him close out your games? 120 wins possible this year. Ballsy, but I love my Yanks

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