(No, she doesn't work for AB4AR. But it'd be nice if she did)
Preseason projections are always fun, and there have been a bounty of them out there for quite some time now. The school of thought I attend in projections is the CAIRO model. If you don't know what that entails (and if you're a regular reader of this blog and know of its love for YouTube videos and bad jokes, chances are you don't), do yourself a favor and brush up here. Long story short, the 2011 CAIRO projections for the Yankee hitters are good. But are they good indicators of what will actually happen?
Time for me to put on the official AB4AR wizard hat and peer into the official AB4AR crystal ball as I examine each member of the starting lineup's 2011 CAIRO projection and give my take AND my projection for each player based off of the CAIRO numbers.
C- Russell Martin: 2010 Final- .248/.347/.332 2011 CAIRO- .263/.362/.380
This projection is pretty friendly to Martin, given the way he's trended down across the board every year since 2007. These increased numbers stay true to Martin's always-solid OBP and show faith that he will be healthy this season, at least healthier than he's been the last 2, and bump his average and power numbers up a bit.
My Take- I'd be ecstatic to get these numbers from Martin this season. They would certainly make the deal he signed a steal for the Yankees and would ensure that it wouldn't be a complete disaster area behind the plate before Jesus gets the call. I just don't see it happening, though. Martin is already starting the 2011 season off still not fully recovered from knee surgery, and getting his catching work in isn't going to do anything to remedy that. I think a .250/.350/.360 line is more realistic.
1B- Mark Teixeira: 2010 Final- .256/.365/.481 2011 CAIRO- .276/.377/.515
This projection takes Teix's awful start in 2010 (even by his traditional slow-starting standards) and past years into account and paints a rosier picture for 2011, bumping his SLG back up over the .500 mark where it's been every year since his rookie season until last year. Teix's advancing age more than likely factors in to the low BA projection.
My Take- I agree with bumping the projection numbers up across the board, because it's obvious Teix's numbers took a big hit because of his monumental slumps and bumps and bruises in the last month plus of the regular season. I have a little more faith that Teix will swing the bat better all around in 2011 thanks to him breaking his slow start streak, and his numbers will be a little higher than this across the board, somewhere in the .285/.390/.520 range. He's passed the 30 threshold, but Teix isn't starting to trend downward just yet.
2B- Robinson Cano: 2010 Final- .319/.381/.534 2011 CAIRO- .306/.355/.511
Robbie's 2011 CAIRO numbers seem to suggest that he played a little over his head in 2010 and will come back to Earth a bit in 2011. While these numbers would still put Cano firmly placed at the top of the 2B heap, they aren't quite the MVP-caliber ones that he put up in 2010.
My Take- I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with CAIRO here. I understand why the numbers would be down with Cano's bad 2008 included, but this system doesn't factor in things like maturity and approach, 2 things that Cano dramatically improved in 2010. And considering he's in the prime of his playing career, I see no reason why his numbers should come down in 2011. If anything, I think he holds right where he was in 2010 at least, if not slightly better. Pencil me in for .325/.385/.530 and another top 5 MVP finish.
3B- Alex Rodriguez: 2010 Final- .270/.341/.506 2011 CAIRO- .281/.372/.526
CAIRO acknowledges The Horse's advancing age and the injuries that come with it by continuing to project him well below his career averages, but seems to think A-Rod can also experience a bit of a rebound in 2011. He's 3 years removed from his last MVP season, but this tripleslash line would be closer to 2009 version A-Rod than 2010.
My Take- If he's going to put up these numbers or better, it's going to come down to health with The Horse in 2011. When he's banged up, his approach changes and his swing suffers as a result. A 32-point bump in OBP says to me that A-Rod is going to be more patient to go along with more healthy in 2011, but it still seems like a stretch to me. I think .280/.360/.515 will be closer to reality.
SS- Derek Jeter: 2010 Final- .270/.340/.370 2011 CAIRO- .290/.360/.406
CAIRO leans heavily on Jeter's last 3 seasons to show a tripleslash that any Yankee fan would be happy to have. Under these numbers, the changes in Jeter's swing would lead to results more in line with his career averages and closer to a natural regression for a SS his age rather than the cliff he fell off of last season.
My Take- Unfortunately, I don't share CAIRO's optimism in projecting 2011 Jeter. I think the work he has put in this offseason and the changes made by Kevin Long will help, but a .290 BA and a SLG over .400 seems like a pipe dream. Even in the mini-hot streak he had to end 2010, Jeter still only slugged .392, so until I see this new approach produce more power I'm not going to hold my breath. I'll take .280/.360/.390 and be more than happy with it.
LF- Brett Gardner: 2010 Final- .277/.383/.379 2011 CAIRO- .270/.358/.372
Like Cano, CAIRO projects more regression for Gardy in 2011 than improvement. Gardner's 2 incomplete Major League seasons and some Minor League stats go into this, so strictly by the numbers this makes sense and I believe is a line that every Yankee fan can live with from their 9 hitter in 2011.
My Take- Once again, though, I have to take umbrage with CAIRO for not factoring in Gardy's injury that caused the dramatic dip in his production in the second half of 2010. I'm very bullish on Gardner when it comes to his future and think he could develop into an All-Star caliber player. At 100% health-wise in 2011, I expect Gardner to improve upon his 2010 line as he continues to learn how to hit against Major League pitchers and hopefully learns to put a little more OOMPH into his swing. Take .285/.385/.390 and call me in the morning.
CF- Curtis Granderson: 2010 Final- .247/.324/.468 2011 CAIRO- .252/.335/.462
Curtis gets a bump up from his final 2010 line thanks to his solid '07 and '08 numbers and the fact that he's still in his physical prime. He does get bumped back down in the SLG department though, probably due to some drastic differences over the last couple years. Overall, CAIRO sees a better 2011 for C-Grand than he had in the past 2 seasons.
My Take- I agree with the logic of improvement for C-Grand in 2011, but I see it being even better than CAIRO projects. Curtis was much better after his 2-day swing rebuild camp with Dr. Long last August, and was an absolute monster in the postseason. With another offseason and ST to work with Long and refine his new approach under his belt, I think Granderson takes a step back towards the 2007-2008 version of himself while earning his 2nd career ASG berth. .265/.355/.485 at least.
RF- Nick Swisher: 2010 Final- .288/.359/.511 2011 CAIRO- .260/.354/.470
CAIRO sees Swish as a combination of himself pre-Yankees and Kevin Long and since donning the pinstripes in 2011. Swish's new approach in 2010 produced more power than he's traditionally shown while also sapping a bit of his trademark patience and OBP, reflected in a decreased OBP projection for 2011.
My Take- I can see the BA and SLG numbers taking a slight dip in 2011, but I'm a firm believer that the Nick Swisher we have seen in his 2 years in the Bronx is the real deal and I think his 2011 numbers will be right up there across the board. I think Swish supplements a bit of a power and BABIP dip in 2010 with a little more patience to keep the OBP high. .270/.365/.490.
DH- Jorge Posada: 2010 Final- .248/.357/.454 2011 CAIRO- .267/.358/.458
CAIRO gives Jorge a big jump in BA for 2011 thanks to his switch from catcher to DH, while dropping him a bit in power. Older or not, CAIRO still sees Jorge as the patient, productive hitter he has always been since he first became the starting catcher for the Yankees.
My Take- I'll buy the patient and productive part, but I don't see Jorge hitting almost .270 for a whole season, healthy or not. I think this is the season that Father Time really catches up with Posada and we see him regress enough to convince him to retire after the season before he becomes a liability. He's going to produce and he's still going to be above average, but the downward trend will become more apparent. I'll say .255/.345/.435.
So that's just what I think, using a combination of last year's numbers, the CAIRO numbers, the eye test, and my own gut feelings. Is it scientific? No. Can I prove any of it? No. But it is logical, and I think the numbers I'm projecting are realistic expectations given who these guys are, what they've done, and what they're capable of doing this year. And even if a few guys fall short of my or the CAIRO projections, it's still going to be a damn good year for the Yankee offense.