2013 American League Preview: New York Yankees

Three of the LEAST evil Yankees stand for the National Anthem - Stephen Dunn

Let's Go Tribe's look at the Indians' competition around the American League continues with the New York Yankees, a team every decent human being loathes.

New York Yankees

2012 Record: 95-67 (1st in A.L. East), 5-1 vs. Cleveland

804 runs scored (2nd of 14 in A.L.), 668 runs allowed (4th of 14 in A.L.)

New York got off to a relatively slow start to the 2012 season and found themselves 5.5 games out of 1st place in late May, but by mid July they'd taken over and built a 10-game lead in the East. They stumbled a bit from there, while Baltimore played really well and made a race of it over the season's final month, but the Yankees won their final four games of the regular season and won their division for the 12th time in the last 15 years.

That success came despite the loss of Mariano Rivera to a season ending injury early in the year. Rafael Soriano pitched very well in his place, CC Sabathia (most certainly NOT a LGFT) had another fine season, as did Hiroki Kuroda. Andy Pettitte came out of retirement late in the year and pitched about as well as any starter in baseball during August and September. Robinson Cano had a fantastic season (largely overlooked due to the performances Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera), Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson were also very solid and Derek Jeter had a strong season too, given that he was 38 years old.

The Yankees dispatched Baltimore in a dramatic ALDS series, then saw their potent bats go incredibly cold in the ALCS against Detroit as they were swept into the offseason. That sour ending led many to deem their 2012 a failure, overlooking the facts that they had the best record in the American League during the regular season and the baseball postseason is always a crap shoot.

Key off-season additions:

Travis Hafner (DH), Dan Johnson (1B), Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B)

Key off-season departures:

Eric Chavez (3B), Freddy Garcia (SP), Raul Ibanez (OF), Andruw Jones (OF), Russell Martin (C), Rafael Soriano (RP), Nick Swisher (OF/1B)

2013 Payroll: ~$210 million

The Yankees will have a much different lineup than they planned to for at least the season's first month, due to injuries to Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson. Derek Jeter is also questionable for Opening Day. I've included all but Rodriguez from among those players in my projected lineup, because he's the only one expected to miss the majority of the season.

Projected 2013 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

C

Chris Stewart

1

1B

Mark Teixiera

3

2B

Robinson Cano

6

3B

Kevin Youkilis

3

SS

Derek Jeter

2

LF

Brett Gardner

2

CF

Curtis Granderson

3

RF

Ichiro Suzuki

1

DH

Travis Hafner

2

TOTAL

23

Indian Killers:

Robinson Cano: 215 PA .350/.391/.560, .951 OPS, 9 HR, 33 R, 33 RBI

That is Cano's best OPS against any of the teams he's got at least 50 PA against.

Alex Rodriguez: 569 PA, .299/.383/.568, .952, 32 HR, 16 SB, 83 R, 107

On the other hand, those are basically Rodrguez's career rate stats. Love him or hate him, the man can hit.

Mark Teixeira: 297 PA, .315/.414/.534, .948 OPS, 12 HR, 53 R, 59 RBI

Those are better than his career averages, but he's done even better against some teams.

Projected 2013 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

1

CC Sabathia

5

2

Hiroki Kuroda

3

3

Andy Pettitte

2

4

Phil Hughes

2

5

Ivan Nova

2

RP

Bullpen

4

TOTAL

18

They're so old! Jeter, Ichiro, Pettitte, Kuroda, and Rivera will all be 38 or older for most of 2013. If Jeter and Ichiro both play enough to qualify for the batting title, they'll be just the sixth pair of teammates in history to do that at the age of 39 or older. Brett Gardner is the only projected starter in their lineup who's still in his twenties and he'll turn 30 in August. A big part of me finds it hard to believe they won't have more injuries and that the injuries they already have won't linger. Age and health could lead to New York missing the playoffs for only the second time in the wildcard era.

On the other hand, they're the goddamn Yankees, so I'm not counting them out until they're dead in the ground (at which point I happily dance upon their grave. 'Yankee Death Day' is a holiday in my household, celebrated with much revelry). Their rotation still looks solid, aged as it may be, and if relatively healthy, their lineup will once again be among baseball's best. There are some warning lights flashing, but the Yankees are far from finished.

PECOTA Projection: 92-70 (1st in East), 806 runs scored, 693 runs allowed

Cairo Projection: 87-75 (3rd in East), 790 runs scored, 739 runs allowed

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