Analyzing The Changes In The New York Yankees Offense For 2010

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IJanuary 29, 2010

The most frequent starting batting order for the New York Yankees in 2009 was Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera.

From that set, Damon, Matsui and Cabrera are gone.

With them went 65 home runs and 240 runs batted in.

The players brought in who are most likely to play significantly are Curtis Granderson (shown above), Nick Johnson and Randy Winn.

The most probable batting order for the 2010 Yankees will be Jeter, Nick Johnson, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Posada, Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Randy Winn (or Brett Gardner).

Of course, Gardner was on the team last year, started for part of the year instead of Melky Cabrera and got a total of 402 at bats.

But if Johnson, Granderson and Winn fill out the order, you get 40 home runs and 184 RBI.

However, Randy Winn had a very bad year with the Giants last year and it may not be a good sample of his production. If you take his best year of the last six, he had 14 HR and 64 RBI.

If Gardner is the nine hitter, he had three home runs and only 23 RBI in '09.

Johnson has a career on base percentage of .402. So when he hits in the two hole behind Jeter, he brings a great deal to the team. He also has had injury problems and played only 133 games last year. As the primary DH, he may be able to shake his physical problems.

Jorge Posada, on the other hand, will turn 39 years old in August and cannot possibly catch as many games as he has in the past.  When Posada does not catch his spot will be taken by Francisco Cervelli, who has won the backup job with some excellent play last year.

Posada himself has said he will not catch more than 120 games. Most analysts think a more realistic number is 100-110. So Cervelli will hit in at least 42 games and maybe as many as 62.

Cervelli has no consistent history to tell anyone he will be a good hitter over a long period. So when Cervelli plays, the Yankee power numbers will go down even more.

And New York simply cannot afford to have Posada's bat on the bench for 62 games. He will probably DH in about 35 games.

Joe Girardi likes to also use the DH spot to give his older regulars a "half day" off. So expect ARod, Jeter, Tex and Swisher to share about 15 games at DH.

That leaves as many as 50 games Nick Johnson will not play and will not hit behind Jeter. Johnson may fill in for Teixeira at first in about five games, but probably no more than that.

The most probable hitter to take the two spot in the order when Johnson is out is Nick Swisher because Joe Girardi did that many times last year.

Curtis Granderson might be another thought. But Granderson struck out 141 times last year and his OBP and OPS+ are too low to really have him hit in the two hole.

This author has previously suggested that a very good two hitter would be Cano, who hit .320 last year and had over 200 hits.

ARod should hit more than his 30 home runs of last year because all signs are that he will be healthy from the start this season.

Everything written above indicates that the Yankees power production will be down from last year, especially if Cervelli plays as many as 50 games.

The other aspect of the offense that must be considered is speed.

Matsui had no speed at all and was a liability on the bases.

His primary replacement at DH, Nick Johnson, is certainly no burner. Nick adds just a little over Matsui on the bases. You gain a little more with Johnson because he will simply be on base more than Hideki would have been.

When Posada DHs, his speed is only slightly better than Matsui's was. And Posada often makes senseless mistakes on the bases.

Damon had lost much of his speed in the past few years. But he was still an excellent instinctive base runner and made up for some lost speed with his baseball smarts.

If you consider that Granderson is replacing Damon in the outfield, he is a major upgrade in speed. But he will have a lower OBP than you would have expected from Damon so you lose some of the speed advantage just because he won't be on base.

Melky Cabrera was not fleet, but not a liability on the bases either. If you consider that either Randy Winn or Gardner replace Melky, the Yankees gain anywhere from quite a bit to a whole lot in the speed department.

Winn is fast and will improve the speed department when he plays. Gardner is lightning and when he gets on base, he changes the game.

No one knows now whether Winn or Gardner will start. Maybe they both will win starting positions and Swisher will start this season as he did last as a fourth outfielder.

For most games, the bottom three of the Yankee order figures to be made up from the following five players: Granderson, Swisher, Winn, Gardner and Cervelli. When Cervelli plays, the bottom four will come from this crew.

What speed that is gained with Granderson, Winn and Gardner may be wiped out by 350 strikeouts if Gardner, Granderson and Swisher are the starting outfield.

All in all this analysis indicates that Yankee power is down considerably. Thoughts of the Yankees scoring in excess of 975 runs are hard to figure.

It will be an interesting year with the Yankees on offense. Total production seems to be down a little.


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