Baseball season is almost upon us, and as they do every year, the New York Yankees will be looking to make an impact.
Offensively, the team looks the same as it has the past couple of years. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira will continue to provide in their respective spots on the lineup. Curtis Granderson had a breakout year last season and will be looking to do the same in 2012.
Alex Rodriguez looks to rebound from an injury-plagued 2011, while Russell Martin and Nick Swisher enter contract years and will be looking to make a statement to the Yankees organization and any free-agent suitors.
There is one new addition to the starting lineup, though. Say hello to Raul Ibanez, former member of the Seattle Mariners and the Philadelphia Phillies. He'll be serving as this year's primary designated hitter and it will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank.
Please note these are simply my projections for how the Yankees' starting lineup will do this year. I'm sure many of you will have different projections as to how each player will do, and I welcome your thoughts and any of your projections in the comments section below.
So how will the Yankees offense do this year? Let's take a look at each individual member of this year's starting lineup.
2011 was the second year in a row that Derek Jeter failed to hit .300 or higher.
However, you have to remember that he missed a number of games, as he was dealing with a calf injury. In addition, he no longer has to worry about getting his 3,000th hit. He did very well after the All-Star break, so hopefully now that the milestone has come and gone, he'll be consistent throughout the entire season.
He'll once again be the team's leadoff hitter and I think If he can stay healthy, he can get back to hitting over .300 once more.
2012 Projections: .301 BA, 7 HR, 64 RBI, 52 BB, 92 R, 18 SB
Curtis Granderson had a breakout year in 2011.
In 156 games, he hit .262, with a career-high 41 home runs and 119 RBI. He also recorded 25 stolen bases, his most since 2007, when he stole 26 bases for the Detroit Tigers.
I think it will be difficult for Granderson to duplicate his numbers in 2012, let alone do even better. However, with him hitting second in the lineup, you should expect him to continue driving teammates home, as well as getting there himself.
2012 Projections: .258 BA, 35 HR, 108 RBI, 82 BB, 131 R, 21 SB
Robinson Cano had a solid 2011 season.
He wasn't able to get 200 hits like he did in 2009 and 2010, but he was still able to hit over .300 for the third straight year (and fifth in his seven seasons in the majors), with 28 home runs and a career-high 118 RBI.
Here's the big question for Cano going into 2012: Can he finally get that 30-homer mark? He's been close; he had 25 in 2009, 29 in 2010 and 28 last year. I think he can do it.
2012 Projections: .305 BA, 31 HR, 120 RBI, 44 BB, 105 R, 5 SB
The power continues to be there for Mark Teixeira, but that batting average keeps going down each year. He went from a career-high .308 in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves, to .292 in 2009, to .256 in 2010, before hitting just .248 last season.
On the positive side, he did have 39 home runs and 111 RBI.
How will he fare in 2012? Well, as he usually does, he'll have a slow start. The power will still be there, but I'm a bit concerned as to how he'll do in terms of making contact.
2012 Projections: .247 BA, 37 HR, 110 RBI, 75 BB, 90 R, 2 SB
It was a disastrous 2011 for Alex Rodriguez.
He failed to play in 100 games last season—the first time that's happened since 1995. As a result, he also couldn't hit the 30-homer plateau once again.
Last time that happened? 1997, when A-Rod was a member of the Seattle Mariners.
But now, A-Rod is feeling good and has been working hard in offseason workouts. Hopefully this means a good deal of offensive production from in that fifth spot in the lineup.
2012 Projections: .277 BA, 25 HR, 88 RBI, 62 BB, 82 R, 9 SB
Nick Swisher played in exactly 150 games for the third year in a row in 2011, but his overall numbers took a dive. Hits, homers, RBI; he fell in most hitting categories. However, he did have 95 walks, and because of this, his on-base percentage rose by 15 points from 2010.
It will be interesting to see what Swisher will do this year, especially because this could be his final year as a member of the New York Yankees.
Doesn't mean he won't produce, though. He will...unless you're talking about the postseason. That's a different story.
2012 Projections: .255 BA, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 86 BB, 80 R, 1 SB
Raul Ibanez signed a one-year deal worth $1.1 million and will be the team's primary designated hitter.
Even at 39 years old, he'll provide plenty of power and the fact that he's left-handed is nice.
Personally, I would have preferred Vladimir Guerrero, because even though he doesn't have as much pop left in his bat as Ibanez does, at least he can still hit in the .290-.300 range, whereas Ibanez's average has been slipping each year for a few years now. Last season, Ibanez was hitting just .245.
The home run totals should roughly the same, though I wouldn't be surprised if he was able to hit more homers, as lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium is his new home. He won't have to worry about playing in the outfield too often, but I wouldn't expect that batting average to get back into the .270s.
2012 Projections: .253 BA, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 47 BB, 69 R, 1 SB
There's good news and bad news about Russell Martin's 2011 season.
The good news is that he had 18 home runs and 65 RBI.
The bad news is he recorded his worst batting average in his career, hitting just .237.
I'm looking at a turnaround for Martin this year, especially now that Jesus Montero is no longer waiting in the wings. He's a decent batter, but what I like about him is his speed. He is pretty fast, especially for a catcher.
Also, you can't forget about his defense.
2012 Projections: .249 BA, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 50 BB, 62 R, 12 SB
Last but not least, we have Brett Gardner.
Personally, I prefer having him bat in the leadoff spot, due to his speed and his ability to steal bases. Get Gardner in scoring position and make it easier for guys like Granderson and Cano to drive in runs.
However, if Gardner wants to ever get that spot and keep it, he's going to have to do better with getting hits, particularly against southpaws. Last season, he was hitting .265 against right-handed pitchers, but was only hitting .233 against left-handed pitchers.
Also, I'd like to see him steal more aggressively. Again, try and get him in scoring position, so it's easier for his teammates to bring him home.
2012 Projections: .264 BA, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 63 BB, 95 R, 52 SB