Showing posts with label 2012 Lineup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2012 Lineup. Show all posts

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 AB4AR Season Review: The Lineup

(Last time we'll see these 3 together in a Yankee uniform.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

The older, veteran-heavy lineup that the Yankees finished 2011 with was basically back intact for 2012. With their ever-present need for starting pitching and their new need to get younger AND trim payroll costing them their best young hitting prospect in decades, that group of veterans was once again going to be looked to as the major source of offensive production even as signs were pointing towards the days of elite-level production being over for some. We knew that some of the older players in the lineup were starting to decline going in, and we learned that in some cases that decline has been accelerated and in some it’s been temporarily halted coming out. What remains unknown after this season is how much longer this infield core is going to stay together.

Despite the continued aging of the Yankee lineup, and the addition of even older players to fill the gap left by the departed Jesus Montero, the Yankee lineup remained one of the most potent in all of baseball again in 2012. The lefty-heavy group leaned on their bread-and-butter formula of power and patience, using the short porch in right field to their advantage as they slugged their way to a team record 245 home runs, a ranking at or near the top of most important offensive categories, and another postseason run. That formula was exposed in the postseason, however, and it’s starting to become more apparent that this group needs a shakeup in both personnel and approach to combat the issues that age-related regression is causing.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some Pre-Game Food For Thought For The Yankee Hitters

It's been a bit of an up-and-down start for the Yankee offense so far.  They've worked counts, drawn a lot of walks, and have done damage in short bursts in their first 8 games.  They've also had the same RISP struggles that plagued them at times last season and during last year's ALDS loss to Detroit.  They're 3-4-5 hitters, while still being pitched to with the respect that elite hitters of their caliber deserve, have combined for just 1 HR and 3 RBI, the sole dinger coming from A-Rod on Friday.  Suffice it to say that the offense is nowhere near clicking on all cylinders right now.

Well, if anything can help start to change that it's tonight's starting pitcher for the Angels, Jerome Williams.   He's not a bad pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but something tells me that he could be walking into the lion's den tonight.  A righty pitching in Yankee Stadium with a severe home/road split, who struggles to keep the ball in the park on the road and likes to throw a lot of 2-strike fastballs is the type of pitcher this lineup can feed on at home and could be just the medicine the Yankee offense needs to start feeling better.  With the positive things they have been doing at the plate, they should put themselves into a lot of situations where they can tee off tonight.

So screw the history against pitchers you've never faced before, boys.  You're good hitters and you're getting a guy tonight whose history suggests he's going to give you good stuff to hit.  Don't waste it.

P.S.- Props to TYA colleague Mike Eder for the dynamite PITCHF/x scouting work on the Angels' staff this weekend.

Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 AB4AR Season Preview: The Lineup

(3/4 of the best infield in baseball or... ?)

The 2012 New York Yankees lineup will look almost identical to the one they put on the field for the majority of the 2011 season.  For a big budget team with all its big guys under contract, that's not very surprising.  What is surprising is the path the Yankees chose to take in changing the lineup this season, as what was supposed to be an injection of youth in the form of Jesus Montero as the everyday DH turned into a blockbuster trade to improve the rotation and a subsequent cost-conscious signing of an aging player not much younger than Jorge Posada was when he was the Opening Day DH last year.  There might be a bit of a course for concern here, as there are some members of the Yankee lineup who have settled into the downside of their careers, and a young bat like Montero's could have been the perfect way to balance the past and present that those players represent with the future that Montero represented.  Even in the downside, however, the Yankee veterans are still capable of producing at an above-average level.  It's exactly how far above the above-average level that will determine whether this lineup takes a step back towards the rest of the pack or once again lays claim to being the best lineup in baseball.

At the top of the order, things will look the same as they did last season with the The Captain, Derek Jeter, leading off again.  Jeter is coming off a major up-and-down season in 2011, with the first half being way down and the second half being way up.  He'll be looking to build off that strong finish to his 2011 and after a slow start in camp, and another calf injury, he has picked it up recently at the plate and still looks to have enough bat speed to be effective.  His defense at short is what it is at this point, and expecting a repeat of his 2011 second half for a full season might be overreaching, but another solid all-around year would go a long way in building confidence that Jeter can remain useful through the remaining life of his contract.

Hitting behind Jeter will once again be center fielder Curtis Granderson, coming off a career year and a year not had by a Yankee outfielder in quite some time.  Curtis has come out of the gate swinging in 2012 and looks primed to put together another MVP-caliber season.  Projections across the board have him slated for a drop in power production, which is reasonable to expect after the 41 home runs he put up last year.  But Granderson is so tuned in to his new swing mechanics that he can recognize when his swing is on and when it's not, something that could never be said about Granderson before.  Even if the HR numbers drop, Granderson's increasing self-awareness at the plate and goal to cut down on strikeouts could lead to another monster year without the 40+ dingers.

More after the jump

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Storylines: Elder Statesmen Of The Lineup

("Hey, guy.  My calf hurts."  Courtesy of The AP)

When you're operating with the biggest payroll in baseball, your team should be potent offensively.  The Yankees are just that and have been for some time now.  They're coming off a 2011 season that saw them rank 1st in total team HR, 2nd in runs scored, 3rd in wOBA, and tied for 2nd in wRC+, and with almost the entire gang who collectively racked up those numbers back for 2012 they're looking at more of the same.  In looking at the projected starting lineup, it's expected that the group of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Brett Gardner will produce in a fashion similar to their 2011 output.  It's not a coincidence that those gentlemen are the younger members of the lineup, still in their physical primes.  The wild cards when predicting just how good the Yankee offense will be in 2012 are the older group of everyday players, specifically the infield trio of Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez.  They're all coming off of interesting 2011 seasons to say the least, and so far have had mixed results in ST, making it difficult to pinpoint how effective they'll be once the regular season grind starts.

Jeter and A-Rod, at 37 and 36 respectively, are the resident "old guys" of the Yankees lineup and clearly the ones most affected by age-related decline.  Jeter looked damn near dead in the water after the 2nd half of 2010 and the first half of 2011, but rebounded after his DL stint to hit .331/.384/.447 from July 4 on.  I've already discussed what Jeter needs to do this season to try to keep the momentum from his 2011 2nd half going, but results have been mixed in ST as he's been hitting a lot of balls on the ground and has been out for almost a week with a calf strain.  The Horse, on the other hoof, has looked fantastic this spring, both physically and from a baseball perspective.  He's got 7 hits in 24 AB, 4 of them for extra bases, and hasn't reported any physical issues with the knee or hip while pushing himself hard on the field and on the basepaths.  130-140 games of a healthy A-Rod will be a huge boost to the Yankees, especially if he can produce the way we know he's capable of.

Teix isn't quite as long in the tooth as his left side counterparts, and is still technically in his prime at 32, but he's coming off a down year that's not attributable to age-related decline or injury, his third straight year of offensive decline since becoming a Yankee.  With five more years left on his deal, the Yankees need him to right the ship and correct his issues from the left side of the plate.  Teix reportedly worked on his left-handed hitting in the offseason, shed some weight, and has been saying and doing all the right things in camp (including not trying to bunt against the shift).  He's also had mixed results at the plate, with 5 hits in 21 AB and little to no power, but he's drawn 5 walks and gone the other way a couple times.  The lack of power can likely be chalked up to him making a conscious effort to focus on his approach from the left side more than driving the ball, so there's really no cause for concern yet.

They aren't infielders, but the tag team tandem of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones are expected to carry the bulk of the load from the DH spot in the lineup this year, and at 39 and 34 respectively they aren't young and haven't exactly been filling anybody with confidence with their early spring performances.  They're currently a combined 6-55 this spring with only 1 XBH and 13 K.  Ibanez has been particularly ugly to watch as neither his timing nor his swing look very good and he offers very little value defensively if forced into outfield duty.  Jones had offseason knee surgery and also got into better shape before camp to attempt to be a bigger contributor in 2012, but both need to produce more than they have so far once the games start to count or the Yankees may be fishing for a new DH at the trade deadline.

If none of these guys improve upon their 2011 offensive output the Yankees will still be a very good offensive team.  But they can be a force with a pair of bounce-back seasons from A-Rod and Teix in the middle of the lineup, and Jeter maintaining a production level above replacement level at the top of the order would be gravy.  If, however, the downward trend continues for this group, things could start to get dicey for the Yankees as they move to the latter parts of the season and further into the future.  Jeter, The Horse, and Teix are all under contract for the next handful of seasons at a hefty price and will become even bigger anchors to the payroll and lineup if they don't produce, and Ibanez and Jones will have people pining for The Jesus if they continue to scuffle.