1 Stat That Sums Up Each New York Yankees Position Player's 2013 Season
It's a strange time to be a New York Yankees fan.
The team is currently in a transition with a goal of lowering payroll to $189 million, and while they still have several high-priced players on the roster, those same players are either aging badly or not playing at all.
As a result, the baseball world isn't giving the Yanks much of a chance—but that's okay.
This will enable the Yanks to fly under the radar in a way, thus allowing Bombers fans to throw it back in the face of every person who doubted their squad en route to the postseason.
Start taking names.
Let's take a look at one stat that is vital to the success of each Yankees position player in 2013.
Francisco Cervelli/Chris Stewart, Catcher: Team ERA
I would venture to guess that Cervelli and Stewart have the inside track to take the starting and backup catcher jobs going into spring training, so let's go ahead and anoint them as such in this piece.
Quite honestly, it really doesn't matter who starts as long as they can have the kind of success behind the plate that Russell Martin did.
You may not love Martin—especially now since he's left town—but you can't argue the fact that he did a great job handling this pitching staff last season with all the injuries and new faces rotating in and out.
The Yanks don't need much from either Cervelli or Stewart on the offensive end, but rather as leaders behind the plate who call good games.
Offense will come in many forms for this team in 2013, but only two men can handle the pitching staff effectively and that's up to Cervelli, Stewart or anyone else that goes behind the plate this year.
Mark Teixeira, 1st Base: Batting Average
Teixeira has seen his batting average decline mightily since joining the Yankees, and that has made him an all-or-nothing hitter.
That's all well and dandy and has still enabled Tex to drive in runs, but he simply isn't getting normal base hits on a regular basis. If the Yanks hope to get away from homer or bust in 2013, Tex needs to be the poster boy for it.
Just imagine if Tex could keep his power while raising his average 30 points. It would be a huge lift for this offense and a nightmare for opposing pitchers because Tex wouldn't be chasing after bad pitches anymore just to make a big connection.
If he's healthy, Tex will always put up the numbers to help the Yanks succeed on the offensive end. The issue remains his batting average, and a better showing this year will make him a much more productive player.
Robinson Cano, 2nd Base: Average with RISP
Cano is the undisputed best player on the Yankees right now, and the Bombers need him to drive in runs as such.
His RBI totals took a bit of a dip last season, as he posted 94 after two consecutive seasons of 100 or more. Normally, the best offensive player on a team is one of the biggest run producers, and Cano finished second on the team in 2012.
The biggest thing stopping Cano from reaching 100 RBI was his average with runners in scoring position. Cano hit at a .268 clip for the season and was even worse with two outs and RISP (.207).
Those numbers must come up if Cano is to be more productive and drive in 100 runs. The Yanks need more from him in the clutch and RBI departments if he is to help make up for the losses of Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher.
Derek Jeter, Shortstop: Games Played
I think at this point we can all assume that as long as Jeter is healthy, he will have a productive season at the leadoff spot for the Bombers.
In last year's playoffs, Jeter battled injuries and ultimately had to be shut down before the season ended after suffering a gruesome injury against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Jeter finished with a .316 average and even led the league in hits.
The questions will remain about how his ankle will hold up during the long grind of the 2013 season, but as long as it does, expect another great year from the Yankee captain.
Kevin Youkilis, 3rd Base: RBI
Youkilis will be taking over for the injured A-Rod for as little as half the season and potentially as much as the whole season.
Despite A-Rod's recent struggles in the past few seasons, he is still depended on to be a major run producer, so Youk has some big shoes to fill.
The former Boston Red Sox star finished with just 60 RBI in 122 games last season, but that was during a season in which Youk played with two lackluster clubs.
With the Yanks, Youk will always have a chance to win and their lineup will give him countless opportunities to drive in runs. New York doesn't need much more from Youk other than a solid defensive effort and, more importantly, a ton of RBI to replace their slugger.
Brett Gardner, Left Field: Stolen Bases
There's a good chance Gardner is moved to center field to start the season, but we'll leave him in left until it's certain.
Gardner battled injuries during a depressing 2012 campaign, and the Yanks certainly missed his defense and speed on the basepaths. Without him, the Yanks were forced to play wait-and-see with the homer instead of having the option to move baserunners in other ways.
When healthy, Gardner is a candidate to steal up to 50 bases, and the Yanks need him to do so if they hope to change their offensive approach.
As long as Gardner can stay on the field, manager Joe Girardi will have no excuses as to why he continues to wait on the long ball. You'll have a great idea of how the Yanks' skipper did in that department when you take a look at Gardner's stolen-base numbers at the end of the 2013 season.
Curtis Granderson, Center Field: Strikeouts
We saw that picture above way too many times last season. As a matter of fact, we saw it 195 times, and that was far too many to stomach.
Granderson routinely came up flat in some big spots last season, most likely because of a strikeout with runners on base. As one of the team's top run producers, Granderson must change this immediately.
At the very least, Granderson needs to let bat meet ball in order to make more productive outs. Instead of striking out with a runner on third and one out, maybe Grandy can lift one to the outfield in order to make that productive out.
It's little things like that which will help Grandy become more productive. I don't know, maybe Granderson should take a little bit off his swing and concentrate on making contact more consistently.
Clearly, hitting 40 homers per year isn't endearing himself to fans or franchise when he can't put bat to ball in big spots.
Ichiro Suzuki, Right Field: Hits
When at his best, Ichiro is a hit machine, and that's exactly what the Yanks need him to be in 2013.
Suzuki will be at the top of the Yanks' batting order for a full year and will be a major table-setter for this ball club. Hits will be his major source of production during the season, as he no longer possesses as much speed to affect a game that way.
Along with Jeter, Suzuki could complete a 1-2 punch at the top of the order that is nearly unmatched in the MLB today. It would create a ton of scoring opportunities for the Yanks' biggest bats, thus leading to more runs and possibly more wins.
Also, Ichiro is just 394 hits away from 3,000 for his career, so there will be plenty of people keeping an eye on that total in the hopes he can break the milestone during the 2014 season.
But the only way he does that and helps the Yanks win at the same time is to rack up some major hit totals in 2013.