MADISON, March 17, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number ten, the New York Yankees.
2013 Record: 85-77 with a -21 run differential.
Key Additions: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, OF Carlos Beltran, C Brian McCann, 3B Kelly Johnson, 2B Brian Roberts, RHP Masahiro Tanaka, LHP Matt Thornton, IF Scott Sizemore and RHP Andrew Bailey
Key Losses: 2B Robinson Cano, OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Mariano Rivera, C Chris Stewart, IF Jayson Nix, RHP Brett Marshall, OF Vernon Wells, LHP David Huff, 1B Lyle Overbay, 3B Alex Rodriguez (suspended), LHP Andy Pettitte, RHP Phil Hughes, RHP Joba Chamberlain and IF Mark Reynolds
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
OF Carlos Beltran
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
OF Alfonso Soriano
OF Brett Gardner
3B Kelly Johnson
2B Brian Roberts
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Michael Pineda/David Phelps
Best Case: The team stays healthy. While Derek Jeter does not make anyone recall 1999, or even 2012, he posts a .250/.325/.420 slash line allowing fans to enjoy his farewell tour. Brian McCann vastly outperforms the production the team received from the position in 2013, and takes advantage of the right field fence to hit a career high 26 HR’s. Jacoby Ellsbury ignites the top of the lineup stealing 50 bases and hitting 15 HR’s. First baseman Mark Teixeira comes back as good as could be hoped from his wrist injury and while his average dips, he still hits 35 HR’s.
CC Sabathia rediscovers some of his velocity and posts an ERA of 4.15. Masahiro Tanaka proves that he is no Yu Darvish, but does log over 200 innings with an ERA in the low threes. David Robertson steps seamlessly into the closer role vacated by Mariano Rivera’s retirement. The team finishes second in the AL East and claims an AL Wild Card birth.
Worst Case: Age and health catch up with the Yankees. The team challenges the 2013 roster for most days spent on the DL. Derek Jeter’s poor performance in his farewell tour provides a stark contrast to Mariano Rivera going out on top last year. Brian Roberts appears in only 25 games and fans realize what a luxury it was to have Robinson Cano manning second for the last nine years.
CC Sabathia continues to struggle as he ages and posts a second year with an ERA in the high fours, while Masahiro Tanaka struggles with the transition to MLB, like Yu Darvish before him, and posts an ERA in the high threes. The Yankees finish .500, which is only fifth place in the ultra-competitive AL East.
Prospect Watch: The Yankees farm system has not produced many everyday players lately, as the top two lately are likely Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. There are some players with a chance to change that currently led by C Gary Sanchez. Sanchez posted a .253/.324/.412 slash line across two level last year, and while there is some debate about whether he can stay at catcher defensively his bat is expected to develop enough to carry him at first base or in the outfield.
OF Slade Heathcott has not developed exactly as the team had hoped, but did post a .261/.327/.411 slash line last year in AA. RHP Rafael DePaula has the stuff to be a top flight starter throwing 113.1 innings last year with 146 K’s and a 4.29 ERA in A ball and is likely a couple years from making a major league impact. The team selected 3B Eric Jagielo with one of their first round picks in the 2013 draft and his development merits watching.