New York Yankees: 2012 Lineup Projections

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIDecember 18, 2011

New York Yankees: 2012 Lineup Projections

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    I have already predicted the New York Yankees pitchers 2012 season, so why not their offense next?

    The Yankees always have one of the best offenses in the majors, but with the addition of Jesus Montero and a healthy Alex Rodriguez, their offense might be the best in 2012. You can say that their rotation is average at best, but there is not a single slouch in their star-studded lineup led by one of the best batters in the majors: Robinson Cano.

    The offense always carries the New York Yankees. Let's see what it can do in 2012.

1. Derek Jeter (SS)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .284/.334/.372, 7 HR, 64 RBI, 14 SB

    Derek Jeter had a comeback year in 2011 where he hit .297, including .327 post-All-Star break, but he is 37 years old, so he will not be able to keep this up for long.

    Jeter has always been a very patient and fundamentally-sound batter, so his performance should not drop off as much as a normal 37-year-old. But 2012 will be the year that he shows his age at the plate. Jeter will still be a capable leadoff hitter, but expect Brett Gardner to lead off against right-handers.

    Jeter will also get his fair share of games at DH and days off, but he should still play about 145 games and at least 130 games at shortstop in 2012.

2. Curtis Granderson (CF)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .279/.376/.534, 35 HR, 108 RBI, 22 SB

    Curtis Granderson had a huge year in 2011. Granderson showed incredible power, but his batting average suffered due to a high fly-ball percentage and a high amount of strikeouts.

    Granderson has hit .302 in his career, so he is capable of hitting for average. If Granderson works with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, he should be able to refine his swing in order to hit more line drives. Granderson will hit fewer home runs, but if he can raise his average, it will be worth it.

    Curtis Granderson should be in for another big season in 2012, but do not expect 40 home runs.

3. Robinson Cano (2B)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .323/.387/.545, 32 HR, 128 RBI, 7 SB

    Robinson Cano is among the most feared batters in the majors, and at 29 years old, he is just hitting his prime.

    It may be tough to believe, but Cano had an off year in 2011. In 2009 and 2010, he had a .320 batting average, compared to .302 in 2011. Cano has hit just under 30 home runs for two straight seasons, and the added protection that comes with moving from fifth to third in the line-up will give him more hittable pitches, namely fastballs, to hit into the stands.

    Cano went on an absolute tear in the postseason against the Detroit Tigers by hitting .318/.375/.682 with two home runs, including a grand slam and nine runs batted in. If he can carry that success over to 2012, watch out, because he will be a legitimate MVP threat.

4. Alex Rodriguez (3B)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .273/.352/.501, 28 HR, 104 RBI, 1 SB

    Alex Rodriguez is by far the most difficult player to predict. Before last season, Rodriguez had hit 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in for 13 straight seasons.

    Health is a big issue. He played 99 games in 2011 due to knee surgery, but he only averaged 133 games per season from 2007 to 2009, and he still averaged 32 home runs and 109 runs batted in. If he can stay relatively healthy, even if he has to DH 30 to 40 games during the season, he should be offensively productive.

    When you get meniscus surgery, you expect your lateral quickness to be hurt, but that is not the case. I am not a big fan of sabermetric stats, especially UZR, but it is hard to ignore his 20.2 UZR/150. That was the best among third basemen in 2011 and second to only Brett Gardner among all positions. That is incredible for a 36-year-old with a surgically repaired knee. Let's just hope he can repeat this defensive prowess in 2012.

5. Mark Teixeira (1B)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .262/.348/.522, 32 HR, 107 RBI, 3 SB

    Mark Teixeira's batting average has dropped from .308 in 2008 to .248 in 2011. That is unacceptable. I think his problem is that he is trying to pull every pitch out of the park. I think this can be fixed by him becoming a predominantly right-handed batter instead of constantly switching, but let's see what the stats say.

    LH: .224/.325/.453, .778 OPS, 24 HR, 69 RBI in 397 At-Bats
    RH: .297/.373/.578, .951 OPS, 15 HR, 42 RBI in 192 At-Bats

    I understand what Teixeira is trying to do. He wants an advantage against pitchers, but when is he going to realize that this "advantage" is actually a disadvantage? Not only is his batting average .073 when batting right-handed, but he also has a higher slugging percentage.

    You may say that the reason he does this is because he has more power when batting left-handed, as shown by his higher home run totals, but his number of at-bats is what makes it look that way. When Teixeira bats left-handed, he hits a home run once out of every 16.5 at-bats, but when he hits right-handed, he hits a home runs one out of every 12.8 at-bats.

    Not only does he hit for a higher average as a righty, but he also hits for more power. Mark, if for some reason you are reading this, please bat more as a righty in 2012, because if you do, your numbers will drastically improve.

6. Jesus Montero (DH)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .287/.324/.487, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 0 SB

    Jesus Montero had a great 20-game stint in New York in 2011. During that stint, he hit .349/.414/.603, with a 1.017 OPS, four home runs and 12 runs batted in. Yes, 20 games is a very small sample size, but doesn't this make you wonder what he can do in a full season in the majors?

    Montero may not have a definitive position, unless you count DH as a position, and he may not play 150 games because Jeter and Rodriguez need to DH some games in order to rest, but he should have a very good season.

    The 22-year-old Jesus Montero has the potential to be great and has been likened to Miguel Cabrera. He is not Cabrera right now, but Cabrera hit .294 with 33 home runs and 112 runs batted in during his first full season in the majors, so the sky is the limit for Montero in 2012.

7. Nick Swisher (RF)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .266/.374/.482, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB

    Nick Swisher has never been a great player, but over the last three seasons, he has averaged a.267 batting average with 27 home runs and 85 runs batted in. He is not great, but he is a consistently good player.

    Swisher is a switch hitter like Mark Teixeira, and like him, for some reason, he chooses to hit left handed when he is a much better batter right handed. I know switching is supposed to help a batter match up better against pitchers, but come on; when does it stop being an advantage when you are much better right-handed than left-handed? At what point should you just choose to hit right-handed because you are better that way?

    2011:
    LH: .232/.343/.420, .763 OPS, 17 HR, 64 RBI in 367 At-Bats
    RH: .327/.442/.516, .958 OPS, 6 HR, 21 RBI in 159 At-Bats

    Just like with Teixeira, it looks like Swisher has much more power when batting left-handed than right-handed, but that is not true. Swisher hits a home runs once out of every 21.6 at-bats when batting left-handed and hits a home runs once every 26.5 at-bats when batting right-handed.

    He does have more power when batting lefty, but he has a higher batting average (by .105) and a higher slugging percentage (by .096). Swisher is a better batter when batting right-handed; he should stop switching.

    If he does stop, then his batting average is way too low, his RBI total is too low and his home runs total is too high, but I doubt he will stop.

8. Russell Martin (C)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .241/.331/.411, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 11 SB

    Russell Martin was considered one of the best young catchers in the majors in 2007 after he hit .293 with 19 home runs and 80 runs batted in to go along with superb defense behind the plate, but he has fallen off in recent years.

    In 2011, Martin hit .237, but his 18 home runs meant his power numbers have remained constant. He still plays very good defense, but his batting average makes him an average offensive catcher at best.

    At only 28 years old, 29 on opening day, Russell Martin does have room to improve, but if you ask me, I do not think he will improve much at all.

9. Brett Gardner (LF)

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    Projected 2012 Stats:
    .264/.352/.369, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 51 SB

    Brett Gardner has never been known as a great batter, but he draws a ton of walks, is a one-man wrecking crew on the basepaths and plays some of the best defense in the majors.

    Over the last two seasons, Gardner has average 48 stolen bases, and at 28 years old, he is nearing the end of his 40-plus stolen base years. But Gardner is not just fast; he is a very intelligent baserunner, so he should be able to slow his decline in stolen bases.

    Brett Gardner will get some time at leadoff against right-handed pitchers, but he will bat ninth in most games. That is not a bad thing because the top of the Yankees order is full of sluggers that can easily bring home the speedy Brett Gardner.