New York Yankees: 5 Players Who Could Surprise Us All in 2012

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIMarch 2, 2012

New York Yankees: 5 Players Who Could Surprise Us All in 2012

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    The Yankees had a very solid season in 2011, despite being bounced in the first round of the postseason by the Tigers.

    Prior to the season, the team had a well-documented number of question marks with the starting rotation.

    To fix those problems, GM Brian Cashman took a big leap of faith and signed both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

    Both of the veterans surprised the entire baseball world by pitching very well as regular contributors of the staff.

    In the bullpen, the Yankees also benefited from surprise seasons from Cory Wade, Luis Ayala and All-Star David Robertson. Each made solid contributions to the bullpen, with the biggest coming from Robertson.

    Even though a few of the Yankees regulars put together relatively down seasons (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner), one man emerged and carried the lineup over the course of the season.

    Curtis Granderson was arguably the biggest surprise in baseball in 2011, as nobody could have foreseen him belting 41 home runs, driving in 119 runs and scoring an absurd 136 runs.

    His MVP caliber season was much appreciated by the Yankees, and they would love for him to have similar successes in 2012.

    There are new surprises in store every season, which is what makes the game of baseball so great. Not all of the players on this list are guys coming off down-seasons, mind you.

    The players documented are ones that could surprise us in any way possible.

Nick Swisher

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    In his third season in pinstripes, Swisher put together a very nice season in 2012.

    He hit .260/.374/.449 with 23 home runs, 85 RBIs and 30 doubles. His postseason struggles continued, though. 

    In 19 at-bats against the Tigers in the ALDS, Swisher posted a .211/.250/.368 line with one home run, one RBI and five strikeouts.

    Swisher is a great complimentary bat in the Yankee lineup, and one that the team will most likely explore bringing back after his contract expires following the 2012 season.

    How can he surprise us in 2012 then?

    Well, it's safe to say that Yankees fans would be ecstatic if he could post a respectable line in the playoffs, especially if the Yankees make a deep run.

    If the Yankees make it to the World Series and Swisher still isn't producing, there's a strong chance that he won't be back in 2013.

    With a line of .275/.380/.460 and a couple of home runs in the postseason, Swisher can really increase his value.

    At the end of the day, we probably won't be surprised by his regular season numbers. We can pretty much pencil in 25 homers, 85 RBIs, a .260 average and an OBP of about .370. It's also not out of the realm of possibility to get a little more out of him.

    We will be pleasantly surprised, though, if Swisher proves us all wrong and produces in the postseason.

Curtis Granderson

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    Despite an incredible season in 2011, it would come as a huge surprise to most if Granderson were able to repeat such a high level of production.

    Prior to last season's outburst, Granderson's previous career highs in home runs, RBIs and runs scored were 30, 74 and 122, respectively.

    Granderson worked hard with hitting coach Kevin Long prior to the 2011 season, a move that seems to have paid off largely for the left handed center fielder.

    One can't help but wonder if last season was a bit of a fluke, however.

    On Thursday, Granderson announced that he hopes to improve upon his breakout season. After mashing 41 homers, though, how much could we see him improve.

    Fifty homers?

    A .300 batting average?

    What will the Grandy-Man do next?

    Whatever it is, I think it's safe to say that Yankees fans would be surprised to see him duplicate last season's successes, let alone surpass them.

Derek Jeter

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    Jeter surprised us all in 2011; his post All-Star break successes proved to us all that he still has a little something left in the tank.

    He posted a .297/.355/.388 line in 2011, hitting six homers and driving in 61runs.

    It was the first time in his 17-year career that he failed to record double-digit home runs, and the fact that he also hit a career low 24 doubles is a little alarming.

    We all know that Jeter is on the home stretch of his illustrious career, but it'll be interesting to see how he produces in the final few years of his career.

    If you ask most Yankee fans, they'll tell you that Jeter still has something left.

    If you ask just about anybody else, they'll tell you that Jeter is washed up.

    In order to maintain a healthy bias, I'll say this: Jeter is definitely on the decline. No longer should we expect 30+ doubles and 10+ home runs, but a .290 average definitely isn't out of the question.

    In 2012, Jeter can surprise most of the baseball community by reverting back to his old self.

Alex Rodriguez

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    After a a fourth consecutive season of being bitten by the injury bug, Rodriguez has made it a point to get himself healthy for 2012.

    Fellow media magnet Kobe Bryant suggested orthokine therapy to the veteran slugger, a procedure that worked well to help Bryant get back to full strength.

    Rodriguez simply hasn't been the same since his MVP season in 2007 when he hit a league leading 54 home runs, drove in a league leading 156 runs and hit an impressive .314/.422/.645.

    Following the Yankees early playoff exit against the Tigers, Rodriguez did well to stay out of the media (except for the orthokine therapy, but that's not a big deal), and he appears focused for the 2012 season.

    That's a very good sign for the Yankees, as he will be vital to a World Series push against the much improved American League.

    There's almost a zero percent chance that Rodriguez ever reverts back to his 2007 form, but it would even be a surprise to see him hit 40 home runs in 2012, given his recent injury history.

    I guess we'll have Kobe to thank if A-Rod surprises us.

Mariano Rivera

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    At this point in his career and with the amount that he's accomplished, nobody would be surprised if Rivera put up a season consisting of 30+ saves and a sub-2.00 ERA.

    Considering the fact that he's done that for eight of the last nine seasons, it's actually a pretty safe bet to assume he'll do so again.

    What would really surprise us is if Rivera decides not to call it quits.

    Even after the major pitching acquisitions, A-Rod's orthokine and Granderson's want for more, the biggest headline at Yankees camp has been Rivera's hint at retirement following the season.

    At this point, the chances of Rivera returning for 2013 seem very slim, especially because he has seen former teammates Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada retire in back-to-back seasons.

    There's no doubt that the Yankees would take him back following the season; he'd instantly become the team's No. 1 priority.

    Unfortunately, though, this upcoming season may be the last time we ever see the great Mariano Rivera grace us with his devastating cutter.