6 Yankees Who Are Due to Regress in 2013

Phil Watson@FurtherReviewCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2012

6 Yankees Who Are Due to Regress in 2013

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    The New York Yankees won the American League East with a 95-67 record in 2012. But they did so with an aging core of players and have already lost a couple of key free agents this offseason.

    Catcher Russell Martin left for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Infielder Eric Chavez signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Right fielder Nick Swisher is almost certainly signing somewhere else.

    On the injury front, young Manny Banuelos will miss the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The rotation’s ace, CC Sabathia, is coming back from surgery on his left elbow to remove a bone spur. Closer Mariano Rivera missed most of 2012 with a knee injury.

    That’s not all. Shortstop Derek Jeter broke his ankle during the playoffs and is still iffy to be ready by Opening Day. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to have surgery on his left hip in January and may not be back until July.

    With so few established major-league players currently on the 40-man roster, this list could be subject to change as more veterans may be added to the mix.

    Looking ahead to 2013, what Yankees may be due to suffer a regression? There are a few, listed in alphabetical order. The progressions are from the Bill James Handbook of 2013 and can be found at FanGraphs.com.

Robinson Cano

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    Entering the final year of his contract, Robinson Cano might be hoping for the walk-year jump in statistics to increase his value as he hits the open market.

    The projections don’t see it that way.

    It’s not as if Cano is projected to be terrible, however. In 2012, Cano hit .313/.379/.550 with 33 homers and 94 RBI in 697 plate appearances.

    For 2012, the projections forecast a slight dip to .306/.361/.515 with 27 homers and 99 RBI.

    That’s not likely to cost Cano a lot of cash as a free agent.

    One thing that shouldn’t be factored into this was Cano’s postseason struggles. He was as cold as he’s ever been in the playoffs (3-for-40), but that followed a stretch to close the regular-season where Cano was unbelievably hot (24-for-39).

    Add those two stretches together and what you have is batting average of .342 (27-for-79), a figure that’s not at all out of step with his career mark of .308.

    The point being this: Despite all the attention paid to players’ successes and failures under the bright October lights, one should never put too much weight on such a small sample.

Derek Jeter

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    Not surprisingly, Derek Jeter shouldn’t be expected to bang out 216 hits again in 2013.

    After leading the league at age 38, the projections show Jeter dipping slightly next season. He was a .316/.362/.429 hitter in 2012 and can be expected to produce a .298/.359/.400 triple-slash line next season.

    Of course, those projections are based on Jeter being healthy enough to play in 154 games, an optimistic projection given the nature of the injury he’s attempting to come back from.

    He exceeded expectations in 2012 while becoming the second-oldest player to ever lead a league in hits. It’s just not realistic to expect Jeter to continue to over-perform so dramatically; rather, his 2012 stars scream that a regression to the mean is to be anticipated.

Hiroki Kuroda

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    Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda was in many ways the glue that held the New York Yankees’ starting rotation together in 2012. While Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova all battled injuries, Kuroda took the ball every fifth day and pitched well.

    Kuroda was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.17 WHIP for the Yankees.

    But Kuroda will also be 38 years old on Feb. 10 and may not match his 2012 numbers next season.

    The projections foretell a slight downward trend. Kuroda can be expected to go 13-10 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2013, with a slight downward tick in his strikeouts per nine innings as well (from 6.84 to 6.45).

    It’s not a huge regression, but a regression just the same. Age would be the primary reason to be thinking Kuroda’s numbers might step back from his 2012 marks.

Boone Logan

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    The Yankees’ top left-handed specialist the last three seasons, Boone Logan had a 3.74 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 80 appearances covering 55.1 innings in 2012.

    The projections for 2013 are not promising for Logan.

    Bill James projects Logan’s ERA to increase to 4.27 in 2013, with his K/9 rate dropping significantly from 11.06 to 9.15.

    Opponents are expected to raise their batting average against Logan by 28 points to .258 and his WHIP is projected to increase to 1.42.

    That would continue a trend for Logan, who has seen his ERA rise from 2.93 in 2010 to 3.46 in 2011. It continued to climb in 2012 and isn’t expected to abate.

    One problem for Logan is that, for a lefty-specialist, he doesn’t seem to do all that well at getting left-handed hitters out. For his career, he allows a triple-slash of .246/.317/.379 and has surrendered 14 homers, a byproduct of producing more fly balls than grounders.

David Phelps

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    The forecast is not bullish for David Phelps as the right-hander enters his second season in the major leagues.

    Phelps was solid in both relief and as a spot starter in 2012, recording a 3.34 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 33 appearances—11 of them starts—and 99.2 innings.

    James forecasts Phelps’ ERA to increase to 3.70, with his WHIP expected to take a significant leap to 1.31 and opponents are forecast to increase their batting average against him from .219 to .257.

    As a rookie, Phelps posted a 2.76 ERA as a reliever and a 3.77 mark as a starter. Because he is expected to battle Ivan Nova for a spot in the rotation, it’s understandable given those splits why such a statistical regression could be anticipated.

Clay Rapada

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    Clay Rapada made 70 appearances as a left-handed reliever in 2012 and recorded a nifty 2.82 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 38.1 innings.

    The projections for 2013 are not quite as promising.

    Rapada is forecast to have an ERA more than a half-run higher in 2013, a jump to 3.34, and the WHIP is expected to rise to 1.31.

    Combined with the projected regression for Boone Logan, that could spell trouble for the Yankees when the situation calls for getting a tough left-handed bat out.

    At age 31, Rapada simply is what he is—an average major-league pitcher, a journeyman with no real upside at this point in his career.  If he were a newspaper, he might be named the Plain Dealer.