New York Yankees: 4 Reasons Why They Are 2012 World Series Favorites

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIJanuary 20, 2012

New York Yankees: 4 Reasons Why They Are 2012 World Series Favorites

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    The Boston Red Sox started out as the favorites to win the 2011 World Series after acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Philadelphia Phillies have their three aces, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, the Texas Rangers have made two straight World Series' and now the New York Yankees have acquired Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda to give them a dangerous rotation to go with their already potent offense.

    Who is the World Series favorite in 2012? After all, the Red Sox and Phillies were the favorites last season so we all know that preseason favorites mean almost nothing but it is still fun to speculate.

    After their recent acquisitions, I think the New York Yankees are the favorite to win the 2012 World Series, let's find out why.

Rotation

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    When you go through the best rotations in baseball a few teams come to mind, namely the San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. You might have to add the New York Yankees to that list of pitching rotations atop the majors.

    We all know about CC Sabathia, he has a Cy Young Award and has been dominant in his first three years in New York. Despite pitching in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium in the best offensive division in the majors he has 235 innings per season, 19.7 wins and a 3.17 ERA. He is the Yankees' ace and arguably the best pitcher in the majors.

    Ivan Nova was quite a surprise in 2011. He came out of nowhere and went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA for the Yankees, not to mention a postseason victory in Game 1 of the ALDS. Nova only got better as the season progressed, he went 8-0 with a 3.08 ERA after July 1. The 25-year-old righty doesn't strike a ton of batters out but he did have an incredible 52.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2011, which negated the Yankee Stadium effect.

    Michael Pineda was a huge addition for the Yankees. They had to give up Jesus Montero but I think it will be worth it because Pineda has Cy Young potential. He has a fastball that tops out at in triple digits, a slider that can rival anybody else's in the game and pinpoint command. If he can develop his changeup into a true plus pitch and work on raising his ground-ball rate, which he raised by almost 15 percent over the course of 2011, he could be dominant in 2012.

    Hiroki Kuroda was a great addition. He posted an excellent 3.07 ERA in 2011, that will raise because he is moving to the AL East and Yankee Stadium but he should still be one of the better middle of the rotation starters in the majors. Even at 37 years old, Kuroda still hit 95 mph on the radar gun in 2011, had a solid 7.2 K/9 and a good 43.2 percent ground-ball rate. That ground-ball rate is actually by far the worst of his career, he has a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate for his career before 2011.

    Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett will battle it out for the fifth spot. I trust Garcia the most out of the three of them, I can see him posting an ERA around 3.75. The two losers will join the bullpen, but no matter who wins the final spot in the rotation they will be an above average fifth starter.

Bullpen

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    Do I really need to explain this one?

    The New York Yankees bullpen had the lowest ERA in the AL with a 3.12 ERA, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were second in the AL with a 3.52 ERA. That is a huge gap.

    Even if you look at the relievers individually it is clear the Yankees have arguably the best bullpen in the majors.

    Mariano Rivera is the Yankees closer, he is the best closer of all time and the best pitcher of our generation. Even at 42 years old he posted a 1.91 ERA and saved 44 games, good for second in the AL. Rivera will be back for at least one more season and he will once again be dominant.

    David Robertson burst onto the scene in 2011 as the Yankees' setup man while Rafael Soriano was on the DL. Robertson is only 26 years old but he posted an 1.08 ERA and an incredible 13.5 K/9 for the Yankees. He was cool under pressure allowing only one run (0.25 ERA) on the road all year and in 19 at-bats with the bases loaded he gave up one hit, zero runs and struckout 14 batters. He even got a vote for AL Cy Young and AL MVP. If Robertson can even come close to his 2011 season in 2012 he will be the best setup man in the majors.

    Rafael Soriano was signed as a free agent last offseason and has been disappointing to say the least. It is hard to pay a setup man $12 million a year, it is even harder to pay that type of money to a seventh-inning man. If Soriano can even get close to his 2010 season with the Rays where he posted a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP for the Rays he will be by far the best seventh-inning man in the majors.

    The rest of the bullpen is good as well. Cory Wade had a 2.04 ERA in 2011, Joba Chamberlain had a 2.83 ERA before requiring Tommy John surgery, Boon Logan had a 3.46 ERA and then there are the two pitchers who will miss out on making the rotation.

Offense

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    The New York Yankees offense is arguably the best in baseball. In 2011 they scored the second-most runs in the majors (867), hit the most home runs (222) and stole the fourth-most bases (147).

    This all happened without Alex Rodriguez for most of the year. With a healthy Rodriguez, he had the same experimental offseason knee surgery as Kobe Bryant so I am optimistic, the Yankees lineup adds another 30 home runs and 100 RBI threat in the middle of their lineup.

    Robinson Cano is the Yankees best hitter. He doesn't just have power, he averaged 27 home runs and 104 RBI per season over the last three seasons, but he also hit .314 during that same time period.

    Curtis Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011, he also led the AL in both RBI (119) and runs scored (136). That is a great stat line for a player who may only get better in his third season in pinstripes.

    Brett Gardner is a speed demon and a one-man wrecking crew on the basepaths. He does not hit for much average or power but he has averaged 48 stolen bases over the last two seasons and 58 stolen bases per 600 at-bats during that same time period.

    Mark Teixeira has serious power judging from his 35 home runs per season for his career but his batting average is his most important stat. Teixeira has seen his batting average drop from .308 in 2008 to .248 in 2011. Could that have something to do with his .239 BABIP, third lowest in the majors? Yes, but even if he gets it back up near the league average, which is around .300, I can see him hitting near .300 in 2012.

    Jesus Montero, who was sent to Seattle for Michael Pineda, will be missed in the Yankees lineup but trading him may actually solve a problem because it allows Joe Girardi to rest aging stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira by having them DH instead of having Montero DH full time.

    The Yankees' offense will once again be near the top of almost every single category in 2012 and it will help them climb to the top of the AL standings and take home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Postseason Experience

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    Once the Yankees get to the postseason do you trust any group of veterans more than the Yankees' group?

    Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both own five World Series rings, Joe Girardi has four of his own and almost everybody else on the Yankees roster has at least one of his own.

    The New York Yankees have won the World Series five times, and been to two more, in the last 16 years. That is postseason experience.

    Mariano Rivera has an MLB-record 42 postseason saves and 0.70 postseason ERA. Derek Jeter has a multitude of postseason MLB records including 152 games played, 704 plate appearances, 107 runs scored, 191 hits, 290 total bases and 31 doubles. With those two leading the way it is no wonder the Yankees have been so good in the postseason.

    Robinson Cano has posted an OPS above 1.000 in three of the last four postseasons, Alex Rodriguez posted a 1.308 OPS in 2009 and CC Sabathia posted a 3-1 record with a 1.98 ERA in 36.1 innings pitched in 2009 as well.

    The Yankees are the most experienced team in the majors and when they get to the postseason it will show.