New York Yankees: Projected Lineup for 2012

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IINovember 18, 2011

New York Yankees: Projected Lineup for 2012

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    Projecting a team's lineup for the following season before Winter Meetings start is a tough business because most major free agents are still on the market and major trades have not occurred yet.

    So, in order to do this I must first predict trades and free agents signings and then make a lineup. Lets see what the Yankees lineup will look like in 2012.

Free Agency and Trades

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    The Yankees will only make one major trade this offseason and it will be to ship Nick Swisher along with a few prospects to Atlanta for Jair Jurrjens.

    Free Agency:

    The Yankees will make one big move via free agency this year by signing Yoennis Cespedes to a five-year $45 million deal.

    Now that we have that out of the way lets look at the line-up.

Lead-Off: Derek Jeter

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    2011 Stats:

    .297/.355/.388, .743OPS, 6HR, 61RBI, 16SB

    Derek Jeter had an excellent 2011 season. Not only did he get his 3,000th hit but he also had a comeback year. Jeter was a couple hits away from batting .300 and had a .327BA, .383OBP and .811OPS after the All-Star Break.

    Jeter will be back in 2011 and until he starts to show his age, he will not only be the Yankees starting shortstop but he will also be hitting leadoff.

Second: Curtis Granderson

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    2011 Stats:

    .262/.364/.552, .916OPS, 41HR, 119RBI, 25SB

    People can bash Curtis Granderson's high strikeout and low batting average but the fact is he is a great player. Not only did Granderson drive in 119 runs from the two hole but he also scored 136 runs himself. Granderson also belted home run after home run and wreaked havoc on the basepaths.

    I expect Granderson to come back in 2012 after working with Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long even better than he was in 2011.

Third: Robinson Cano

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    2011 Stats:

    .302/.349/.533, .882OPS, 28HR, 118RBI, 8SB

    Robinson Cano will be back in 2012, that is for certain. The next thing to decide is where to put him in the lineup. He spent most of 2011 batting fifth, moved up to fourth when Alex Rodriguez and then finally moved up to third at the end of the season.

    Robinson Cano is the Yankees best hitter, he doesn't have the most power but he is the most complete hitter. That is why he will be batting third in 2012.

Fourth: Alex Rodriguez

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    2011 Stats:

    .276/.362/.461, .823OPS, 16HR, 62RBI, 4SB

    Alex Rodriguez did not have a good year. Not only did he miss 63 games, most of them due to injury, but he also failed when it mattered most.

    There is some hope, though. Alex Rodriguez had 13-straight seasons of 30HRs and 100RBIs until last season and if you expand his stats to 162 games he would have hit 26HRs and 101RBIs. The key for Rodriguez is to stay healthy in 2012.

    If he can stay healthy and hit the ball consistently not only will he be better but Rodriguez will protect Robinson Cano, which will force pitchers to pitch to him.

Fifth: Mark Teixiera

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    2011 Stats:

    .248/.341/.494, .835OPS, 39HR, 111RBI, 4SB

    How can a player hit 39HRs and 111RBIs have a disappointing season? Throw in his great defense and you would think he had a career year. Sadly, that is not true. Not only did Teixeira not produce in October when it matters most but he also had a measly .248 batting average.

    I cannot count how many times the Yankees needed a hit, Teixeira comes up to bat and then fails. If anybody on this team needs to work with Kevin Long over the winter it is not Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson, it is Mark Teixeira.

    Lets hope he can step his batting average up to around .280 without losing his power in 2012.

Sixth: Jesus Montero

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    2011 Stats:

    .328/.406/.590, .996OPS, 4HR, 12RBI, 0SB

    When Jesus Montero was called up in 2011 there were many doubters who said he was over-hyped. They were proven wrong. Not only did Montero come through with his textbook opposite field power (take notes, Mark Teixeira) but he also came through in the postseason by going two for two with a run and an RBI in limited opportunities.

    If Jesus Montero is still in New York, I believe he will, in 2012 he could be the best six hitter in the majors, even at 22 years old.

Seventh: Yoennis Cespedes

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    2011 Stats:

    .333/.424/.667, 1.091OPS, 33HRs, 99RBI in 90 games

    Yoennis Cespedes is the 26-year-old (maybe) Cuban defector who recently posted a 20 minute video on YouTube, watch here. If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend it.

    Cespedes was on GMs radars before the video because he has shattered many Cuban records, but he did not explode in the media until his video went viral.

    I expect the Yankees to be interested in Cespedes this winter, especially if they trade Nick Swisher for a pitcher like Jair Jurrjens.

Eighth: Russell Martin

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    2011 Stats:

    .237/.324/.408, .732OPS, 18HR, 65RBI, 8SB

    Russell Martin is mostly known for his excellent defense behind the plate, but he is no slouch in the batter's box.

    As you can see Martin does not get a hit very often but when he does it has a chance to leave the ballpark, he has great power. Russell Martin's first job is to block the plate for erratic pitchers like AJ Burnett but his second job is to drive in runs, which he has done very successfully so far.

Ninth: Brett Gardner

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    2011 Stats:

    .259/.345/.369, .713OPS, 7HR, 36RBI, 49SB

    Brett Gardner is a prototypical leadoff hitter. He has great plate discipline, takes a lot of pitches, gets on base at a good rate and is a one man wrecking crew on the basepaths. Nothing hurts a pitcher's confidence more than a leadoff walk and then a stolen base.

    Derek Jeter is the Yankees current leadoff hitter and because Brett Gardner does not have much pop in his bat he will bat ninth in 2012, except for on Jeter's off days. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it is always important to have a player to help bring up the top of the lineup and Gardner is just that person.