Ranking the Most Important Players for the Yankees in 2014

Ryan GauleCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2014

Ranking the Most Important Players for the Yankees in 2014

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    The New York Yankees will have a very different look to their offense this season.  

    With the key additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in the offseason, this team has promise again.  

    Here is a look at the most crucial players for the Yankees going into the 2014 season.  

     

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

6. Ivan Nova

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    Ivan Nova showed flashes of greatness in 2013, following his 2012 campaign in which he went 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA.  

    In 2011, his first full season, the 27-year-old starter went 16-4 despite spending most of July in the minors.  

    The Yankees cannot afford to see Nova have another off year in order for them to be a playoff contender.

    With a rotation that is still coming together (barring the potential acquisition of Masahiro Tanaka), Nova currently sits in the third spot in the rotation.  

    Nicknamed "Supernova," he will have to live up to expectations if the Yankees have any hope of playing in October.

5. Mark Teixeira

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    The Yankees will look for a bounce-back year from Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira in 2014.  

    Last season, the 33-year-old was held to only 15 games due to a wrist injury he originally sustained preparing for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  

    After missing a total of 16 games throughout his first three seasons with New York, Teixeira has been held to only 138 games over the last two seasons.  

    He is an integral piece in the middle of that lineup.  

    The Yankees will need him to stay healthy in order to bolster an infield that is mediocre at best, after losing third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a season-long suspension.

    If Teixeira does remain healthy, he can be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year in 2014.

4. David Robertson

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    David Robertson will have huge shoes to fill this season. 

    As long as the Yankees do not go out-of-house looking for a closer before spring training starts, the 28-year-old will take over for the great Mariano Rivera, who retired after the 2013 season.  

    Robertson has held his own as the Yankees setup man, compiling an ERA of 2.76 over his six-year career. 

    However, he does not have a lot of experience as a closer.  

    Over his career, Robertson has compiled only eight saves.  This will be the first time he enters spring training as the Yankees closer.  

    Expect Robertson to hold it down once he gets comfortable in the closer role.  There is a completely different mentality pitchers take between entering the game in the eighth versus the ninth.  

    With the lineup the Yankees will bring to the table in 2014, it is likely that Robertson will have plenty of opportunities to close the door on games.  

    If he is as effective in the ninth as he has been in the eighth, the Yankees will be just fine.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury

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    Jacoby Ellsbury left the World Series champion Boston Red Sox for the Yankees this offseason, signing a seven-year deal worth $153 million.  

    In 2013, the center fielder batted .298 with 52 stolen bases for the Red Sox, propelling them to their third championship in nine years.  

    Ellsbury is now 30 years old, so the Yankees hope he will maintain his speed as he ages.  

    He has been injury-prone over the last two seasons, but he came on strong at the end of last year.  

    Ellsbury's health is key to the Yankees offense this season.  Barring injury, he will be one of the best center fielders in the American League once again this season.  

2. Derek Jeter

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    Derek Jeter will enter his 20th major league season this spring.  

    The 39-year-old captain was limited to only 17 games last season due to a lingering leg injury.  

    In 2012, his last full season, Jeter batted .316 while compiling 216 hits in 159 games.  

    Jeter has been the face of the franchise for almost two decades now, and he is truly a warrior on the field, having led his team to five World Series titles.  

    While Jeter may not be the same player he was two years ago (he will turn 40 in June), the Yankees will need his leadership on the field to get back on top in 2014.  

1. CC Sabathia

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    Following a down year, CC Sabathia will look to rebound in 2014.  

    In 2013, Sabathia posted the highest ERA of his career, going 14-13 while allowing an average of 4.78 runs per nine innings.

    The 33-year-old lefty will remain the leader of the rotation in 2014.  

    With a decrease in velocity, Sabathia spent 2013 learning to pitch more to contact.  Prior to his elbow surgery last offseason, he was known as one of the best power pitchers in the game.  

    The Yankees will need the lefty to be a little bit more finesse this season and pitch with control rather than with an overpowering fastball. 

    The rotation hinges on Sabathia's performance, which makes him the most important staple in the Yankees organization this season.