Stat Predictions for Each of the New York Yankees' Injured Stars
The New York Yankees have 10 regulars currently rehabbing various injuries on the disabled list—Francisco Cervelli, Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Ivan Nova, Eduardo Nunez, Michael Pineda, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis—but they're all scheduled to be returning at different points within the next few months.
Granderson, Jeter, Rodriguez and Teixeira have the potential to turn the first-place Yankees into an even more talented club. The Yankees have gotten the job done thus far with names like Vernon Wells, Jayson Nix, Chris Nelson and Lyle Overbay filling in for the respective superstars. As a first-place team, it's safe to say that the Yankees are more than pleased with the play of these fill-ins.
Granderson and Teixeira are scheduled to be back with the club in the near future (though Granderson should be back first), while Rodriguez and Jeter are on track to be ready sometime after the All-Star break.
In shortened seasons, what should we expect from some of the Yankees' biggest stars?
26 Home Runs, 70 RBI, 11 SB, 80 Runs Scored, 155 SO, .242/.315/.500
Granderson is the closest of all the injured stars to his return. Reports suggest that Granderson needs just 50 at-bats in an extended spring training before he's ready, and he's already a few games in to his assignment.
A free agent at season's end, Granderson should be motivated to end the season well in order to seek a lucrative contract in free agency. Granderson will likely be thrust right back into an everyday role in one of the corner outfield spots. This will make him a candidate to put up pretty decent numbers for the rest of the season.
We all know about Granderson's power, as well as his ability to utilize the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. There's no reason why Granderson can't hit around 25 or so home runs after missing nearly two months. Consider the fact that he has cleared the fences 84 times in the past two seasons and 26 home runs seems like a fair benchmark.
The key for Granderson upon his return will be his strikeouts. Granderson has a propensity to swing for the fences. He looks to pull nearly every pitch, making him susceptible to pitches on the outside-half of the plate and breaking pitches in the dirt.
A potential 26 home runs becomes significantly less valuable when that's handcuffed by 155 strikeouts. Either way, he should be an improvement to Ichiro Suzuki or Vernon Wells (should he come back down to Earth).
21 Home Runs, 68 RBI, 18 Doubles, 50 Runs Scored, .260/.345/.490
Mark Teixeira will be bringing more than just his bat to the lineup when he returns, as his glove at first base is arguably one of the best in the league.
The Yankees will be more interested in bringing his potent bat back into the lineup, however, but don't expect him to be rushed along in his rehab. A forearm injury is difficult to hit with, with as much stress that is placed upon the forearms of a batter attempting to slow down his swing.
He'll return when he's ready, but expect that to be when he is exactly 100 percent. With Overbay playing well enough to sustain the loss of Teixeira for a few extra games, there's no need to bring him back any sooner.
Teixeira, a notoriously slow starter in April, will have to come out of the gates quickly when he returns. It will be interesting to see if his early-season struggles carry over to late-May/early-June. These projections don't account for such struggles, so his numbers will obviously be lower if he has issues finding his stroke.
All in all, these projections are fair for a player that will have missed the first two months of the season. The 21 home runs could be viewed as a stretch given that he only hit 24 in 123 games in 2012, but I'm chalking that up as a bad season.
Look for Teixeira to start playing more like the Yankees thought he would.
Five Home Runs, 38 RBI, 45 Runs Scored, 95 Hits, .292/.350/.415
Derek Jeter is the heart and soul of the Yankees. When he returns sometime after the All-Star break, he'll be bringing much more than stability at the top of the order. Despite the team's strong start, the Yankees have lacked the heart (at times) that Jeter brings to the table.
There's no question that Jeter will perform well when he returns—especially if the Yankees are in the thick of a playoff hunt. Jeter thrives under the pressures surrounding late-season baseball. After the All-Star break, every single win becomes more valuable.
The 15 home runs Jeter hit last season are somewhat of an anomaly. I believe he's more of a 10-home run guy at this point in his career, so somewhere around five should be an accurate mark for him (depending on when he returns).
I think the key for Jeter will be how well he's able to plant on his ankle when he swings and how much weight he'll be able to put on it when he runs. Jeter still has the speed to steal a few infield hits on lazy infielders, so running well will be a key for his return.
If anything, Jeter will be well rested when he returns and may not need to see too much time on the bench or at designated hitter. This should help give him the playing time necessary to put up these numbers.
14 Home Runs, 52 RBI, 40 Runs Scored, 60 SO, .275/.340/.465
Alex Rodriguez's second-half will be immensely important to the fate of the Yankees' season. If he underperforms, then manager Joe Girardi will be faced with a difficult decision. With Kevin Youkilis proving in April that he's more than capable of handling a full-time role, Girardi will have to decide which veteran should receive the most playing time.
Expect Rodriguez to be motivated, however. Biogenesis reports and bad performances from the past two seasons will be on his mind, and he'll be looking to prove that he still has something left in the tank. For the Yankees' sake, he better.
Rodriguez is under contract through the 2017 season, so the Yankees will look to get every last ounce of production out of the 37-year-old.
Considering the fact that he likely won't be playing until mid-July, these numbers are modest. Given the production of Travis Hafner in the middle of the lineup, as well as the fact that Granderson and Teixeira should be in full swing by July, Rodriguez likely won't be placed in a prominent role in the middle of the order out of the gate.
This will put much less pressure on him to succeed. Hitting sixth (or possibly second) could do wonders for Rodriguez. Because of lesser expectations, I think A-Rod will have a pretty good return.