Teixeira will be one of the key Yankees looking to rebound in 2014
For the New York Yankees and their fans, 2013 was a season to forget.
Plagued throughout the season by injuries to starters and their backups, the team limped to the finish with an 85-77 record that was their worst mark in 18 campaigns.
In addition to the offseason turnover that accompanies free agency, the Yankees "new look" of 2014 will have to include several rebound seasons from some key players.
Let's look at who will be the Bombers destined for a comeback next season.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-reference.com
Mark Teixeira will return healthy and productive in 2014.
Last season ground to a halt before it even began for Mark Teixeira.
Hurt while hitting balls off a tee in preparation for the World Baseball Classic last winter, "Tex" was initially expected to be out between eight to 10 weeks with a strained tendon in his wrist. After returning for a brief 15-game span on May 31, he re-aggravated the injury and required season-ending wrist surgery.
Even though his numbers have declined since becoming a Yankee, Teixeira's first four seasons in the Bronx were productive. Over that span, the first baseman averaged 34 home runs and 106 RBI, making him a threat in the middle of the order.
While his batting average has declined from the career-high .292 he had in his first season in New York, his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rating has never been lower than 3.1, except for last season.
This table shows Teixeira's first four seasons with the Yankees:
It should be noted that in 2012, the Yankees first baseman played in only 124 games.
As a switch-hitter, his value to the heart of the lineup is obvious, and as a five-time Gold Glove winner, his play in the field was sorely missed in 2013.
Given that he is 33 years old, there is no reason to believe that Teixeira won't bounce back. Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reports that "Tex" is on track to return to the Yankees lineup for spring training.
Barring any further unforeseen disasters, first base should be set once for the Yankees in 2014.
Look for Sabathia to reclaim the title of staff "Ace" in 2014.
Even though he made 32 starts and threw at least 200 innings for the seventh consecutive season in 2013, CC Sabathia wasn't the same consistent work horse that Yankees fans have come to know and love.
Sabathia posted the highest ERA (4.78) and WHIP (1.370) of his career last season.
In October of 2012 the left-handed hurler had surgery to remove a bone spur in his left elbow. One can't help but wonder if that had any effect on his 2013 campaign.
Here is the breakdown of Sabathia's first four years as a Yankee:
What the table shows is a remarkable consistency in every category, although there are still several pressing questions that need to be asked.
Is age catching up with the southpaw? At 33, he is no spring chicken but he is a far cry from being "old" for his position.
Was his 2012 elbow surgery a factor? The fact that 2013 was so different than the previous four seasons for Sabathia certainly lends credence to that possibility.
Has the workload worn him out? If that had been the case last season, one would have expected to have seen a drop-off in his performance as the season entered its late stages. That was not what happened, though, as September was one of only two months where Sabathia posted an ERA lower than 4.00 (the other being in April), and it was the only month after the All-Star break where every one of his starts went at least six innings.
It is now a year removed from his elbow surgery. Assuming that this will be an uneventful offseason for Sabathia, look for him to reclaim his status as the Yankees' ace in 2014.
Expect a return to 30-plus starts, an ERA lower than 4.00 and a season of 16 or more wins.
Jeter will return to the everyday lineup for the Yankees in 2014.
Prior to suffering his devastating ankle injury in the 2012 ALCS, Derek Jeter showed that he still has a lot of game left in him.
Many forget that before hid fateful injury against the Detroit Tigers, Jeter—then 38 years old—had hit .316 and led the American League in both hits (216) and at-bats (683) while scoring 99 runs during the regular season.
On top of that, he hit .364 in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles and was named an All-Star for the 13th time.
Last season was just one giant setback after another for the Yankees captain. After entering the season with hopes of playing on Opening Day, he ultimately had to wait to make his first appearance of the season in July after suffering a small crack in his foot while preparing for his return in April.
Last season marked only the third time in Jeter's career as a regular in the lineup that he had played in less than 150 games. Over the four campaigns prior to last season, Jeter averaged 150 games, 100 runs scored, 192 hits and a .287 batting average.
Anyone who has followed Jeter knows his work ethic is second to none. His determination to return to the game he has played at the professional level for 19 years will certainly be the driving force ensuring that 2014 begins with him in the Opening Day lineup.
The Yankees gave a vote of confidence in their shortstop by signing him to a one-year, $12 million contract rather than force him to use his $9 million player option. Whether or not it will be the last contract that Jeter signs with New York is open to speculation, but it does show that the organization believes he'll be ready for the start of the 2014 season.
If Jeter is ready for Opening Day, count on him to once more play in 150 games and hit close to .300, erasing the disappointment of 2013 from Yankees fans' memories.