We are less than a month away from Opening Day. That means everyone is getting their regular season predictions ready. To most, that means predictions for regular season stats for the players that make up their favorite teams and their fantasy baseball teams too.
A-Rod has to bounce back from a lackluster, injury-filled season. Teixeira needs to raise his batting average up to his norm. Cano is poised to take the next step and truly become the Yankees' best and most feared hitter.
The greatest part about Spring Training is making predictions for the best players. This slideshow is going to break it down by looking at their numbers from last season and at any changes that may affect their numbers this season. Then I'll give the prediction for their stats for the entire season.
.302 AVG, 28 HR, 118 RBI, .349 OBP, .533 SLG
Robinson Cano appeared to take a bit of a step back in 2011. Most of his stats went down from 2010 to 2011. Only his RBI numbers increased as he saw more time in the fourth and fifth spot in the batting order.
The reason for his drop from 2010 to 2011 is likely to be found in his walks and strikeouts. Beneath a player's strikeout to walk ratio is the player's approach at the plate. Lower walks obviously means a more aggressive approach.
In 2010, Cano had 57 walks while only having 38 in 2011. Cano seemed less patient at the plate last season as his strikeouts were at a career high.
Granted Cano's never been a hitter to take walks, but he isn't a player to rack up strikeouts either. Cano is one of the hardest players to strikeout in the league. If Cano can cut down his strikeouts, he'll have a better year in 2012.
.276 AVG, 16 HR, 62 RBI, .362 OBP, .462 SLG
Alex Rodriguez was plagued by injuries last season to the point where he was reduced to a doubles hitter. A-Rod missed a majority of last season because of surgery and had more work done over the offseason.
So far he looks pretty good after hitting the first pitch he saw in Spring Training for a home run. Of course, what happens in Spring Training isn't in any way indicative of what will happen in the regular season, but a guy can be hopeful can't he?
A-Rod's obviously entered the decline stage of his career. Injuries have helped speed up the decline, which means his health will be closely watched this season. Even if he's 100 percent healthy, he won't be hitting 50 homers like he used to.
30 home runs might not be out of reach for him, though. It all depends on his health and how much rest he'll be getting by playing the DH position.
.248 AVG, 39 HR, 111 RBI, .341 OBP, .494 SLG
Mark Teixeira's biggest problem is keeping his batting average up. His average's been on the decline ever since he joined the New York Yankees in 2009. Teams have been using the shift on him and he's hit into it too many times for any Yankee fan's liking.
It appears he's forgotten that he can hit the ball to the opposite field. Teixeira's a switch-hitter, but when he's batting lefty, he tends to pull the ball far more because of that short porch in right field.
Just look at his splits when he faces left-handed pitchers versus right-handed pitchers:
LHP: .302 AVG, 15 HR, .380 OBP, .587 SLG, 189 AB
RHP: .223 AVG, 24 HR, .323 OBP, . 450 SLG, 400 AB
Granted, he's had far more at-bats versus righties than lefties, but you can't ignore the large difference between the two. It could be that he's better as a right-handed batter, but the shift plays a large part into it.
Teixeira's season stats will largely depend on his ability to overcome his splits and the shift.
.312 AVG, 30 HR, 115 RBI, .355 OBP, .530 SLG
A lot of Robinson Cano's numbers depends on where he'll hit in the lineup.
Throughout his seven years in the majors, Cano has steadily climbed the New York Yankees lineup to be in the heart of the order. With Alex Rodriguez's age and declining health, Cano could end up seeing more time in the cleanup spot.
As the number four hitter, Cano would likely see better pitches, especially if A-Rod or Mark Teixeira was batting behind him. Even if he bats in the fifth spot, Cano would still see a steady stream of fastballs in or near the strike zone as the pitcher will want to get Cano out rather than have him drive in a run.
His RBI numbers depend on who hit in front of him. Curtis Granderson and Teixeira will still be on-base beasts, but with Derek Jeter and A-Rod's age, their on-base percentage might decline. That means less RBI for Cano unless Girardi sticks Gardner at the top of the order.
And yes, I think this is the year Cano finally hits 30 homers. He's hit under 30 for two years now and he should have enough power to finally reach 30 home run.
Cano had a down year, for him, in 2011. I expect him to bounce back in some categories.
.279 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI, .351 OBP, .468 SLG
The days of Alex Rodriguez hitting 30-plus homers is long gone. He barely reached 30 in 2009 and 2010. Age has finally caught up with him and while I wouldn't be surprised if he reached 30, I just don't see him doing it.
A big issue with A-Rod is his health. He hasn't played in over 150 games since 2007. Some time at the DH spot should help that, but the Yankees will need his bat at third base, so don't expect him to be DH every couple of games or so.
A-Rod had some work done over last season and the offseason so it remains to be seen if any of that will help and make a big impact.
Another issue is whether or not he'll remain the New York Yankees cleanup hitter. He'll stay around the heart of the order, which will help him get at least 100 RBI again. He just won't be leading the team in RBI like he used to.
.270 AVG, 38 HR, 111 RBI, .360 OBP, .498 SLG
Let's see if Mark Teixeira can hit .270 for a batting average. He's steadily hit above .280 minus the last two seasons and his rookie season. It'll be a long battle, but Teixeira has the skills to eventually climb back to .280.
He's also thinned down a bit. Last season, his swing wasn't as smooth thanks to some extra muscle in his upper body. Teixeira slimmed down, making himself leaner and more loose. His bat speed should increase which means he'll make more contact. Now if he can just stop pulling the ball...
Look for his homers to stay around the same range as I don't see his power disappearing anytime soon. Same goes for his RBI totals. There's also that short porch in right field which we all know Teixeira loves to hit to.
Hopefully his on-base percentage will climb back up to what it used to be. Teixeira seemed to be frustrated with the shift and his low batting average. Those two factors had him produce more outs than he's used to. As long as Teixeira can get his average back up, his on-base will climb with it.
.305 AVG, 24 HR, 103 RBI, .350 OBP, .531 SLG
A little note about these worst case scenarios: these are my projections for their worst stats for the season IF they don't get injured. If they're injured for a long period, then obviously it'll affect their stats.
But anyway, yeah those are Robinson Cano's "worst case" stats. Still pretty good, but kinda bad for him.
I see his average being higher than last season regardless of what happens this year. Even if it's lower, it won't be less then .300 unless he goes on the DL or has a complete breakdown. Or you know, he catches Mark Teixeira-itis and pulls the ball to the point where he hits into the shift every time.
Cano's only hit over 20 homers three times, but with his home run totals from the previous two seasons, I don't see it dropping below twenty. He is in his prime after all.
.272 AVG, 25 HR, 90 RBI, .344 OBP, .460 SLG
Given Alex Rodriguez's recent injury history, it's highly likely that he'll get injured again. However, I don't see him missing a big chunk of time like he did last season. These numbers account for him missing some playing time, but not to the point where it'll strongly affect his numbers.
A-Rod's average has dipped over the past couple of seasons. He won't be hitting over .300 like he's used to unless that German treatment had a little something extra in it.
Like I said before, A-Rod's not hitting over 30 homers unless he plays all 162 games which is highly unlikely. The low home run totals, well, low for him anyway, will also affect his RBI numbers.
If A-Rod hits around .270 with lower than usual home runs, he won't be in the cleanup spot for long. Robinson Cano might take over at that spot affecting A-Rod's RBI numbers even more.
.250 AVG, 34 HR, 107 RBI, .341 OBP, .492 SLG
With these projections, Mark Teixeira obviously would still be struggling with his problems from last season. He'd still be pulling the ball and his bat speed wouldn't have improved despite slimming down and working on his swing.
Those problems would translate into his power numbers declining as the frustrations mount on him yet again. 34 home runs is a good amount, but it's not what he's used to hitting in Yankee Stadium.
Teixeira hit 33 home runs in 2010. While I don't think it'll drop that low, if he struggles, his power could drop to around that level once again.
That also means his RBI numbers will drop. While RBI are strongly influenced by who bats around the hitter, they're still somewhat indicative of how much power the hitter has.
As a little treat, I'm going to do a quick run-down on my projections for the rest of the New York Yankees lineup. These are best case projections since I like to be optimistic.
Russell Martin: .253 AVG, 18 HR, 59 RBI, .347 OBP, .406 SLG
Derek Jeter: .286 AVG, 8 HR, 62 RBI, .348 OBP, .377 SLG
Curtis Granderson: .258 AVG, 37 HR, 100 RBI, .345 OBP, .492 SLG
Brett Gardner: .265 AVG, 8 HR, 40 RBI, .366 OBP, .360 SLG
Nick Swisher: .260 AVG, 25 HR, 86 RBI, .369 OBP, .455 SLG
Raul Ibanez: .253 AVG, 20 HR, 67 RBI, .314 OBP, .433 SLG
The main thing here is that Granderson won't be doing his MVP impression again this year. As much as I'd like him to, I don't expect him to.
Jeter will slowly be slipping as age catches up to him despite his best efforts as trying to impersonate Mariano Rivera's longevity. Everyone else will do pretty much the same. Newcomer Raul Ibanez won't exactly suck at the DH, but he'll be sharing time with A-Rod most likely which means his at-bats will be limited.
If everything goes as according to plan, then the Yankees will have the most potent offense in baseball.