Today is the third day of our countdown to February 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa. Each day between now and then, Wallace Matthews, Mark Simon and I will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Today, we examine where all the home runs have gone.
FIVE POINTS OF CONCERN ABOUT THE LACK OF POWER
The Yankees really could become more of the Bronx Bunters in 2013. They have corner outfielders who project to hit barely double-digits in homers among them. Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira are all set to go deep, but a lot of their help has scattered around the majors.
In 2012, somebody, someplace supposedly said the Yankees hit too many home runs. To my knowledge, no one actually said that. Some did suggest the Yankees' offense needed to be more diversified. Well, it better be in 2013 because they are certainly going to hit less longballs. Here are the concerns:
1) NOT REGULAR POWER: In 2012, the Yankees not only hit the most regular season home runs, they hit a lot more than anyone else. Their 245 home runs were 31 better than the next-best power hitting team, the Baltimore Orioles. It should be noted, the team that hit the least amount of regular season homers -- the San Francisco Giants with 103 -- won the World Series.
2) HOMERS HAVE LEFT TOWN: Nick Swisher (24), Russell Martin (21), Raul Ibanez (19), Eric Chavez (16) and Andruw Jones (14) have taken their 94 homers elsewhere. Alex Rodriguez (18) may not return in 2013 and, even if he does, who knows what kind of power he will have approaching his 38th birthday.
3) THE REPLACEMENTS: If Ichiro has the same number of at-bats as Swisher's 537 in 2012, the tremendous Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projection has him hitting nine homers. If Gardner has 500 at-bats, ZiPS says he will hit five homers. Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart project to around eight homers in 600 at-bats.
The Yankees haven't really replaced Ibanez, Chavez or Jones, but if, let's say, Eduardo Nunez, Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler are the fill-ins, that trio would hit around 16 long balls in the same 895 at-bats as the men they replaced. So, that's 38 homers instead of 94.
4) A YEAR OLDER, A YEAR STRONGER?: Granted, as good as ZiPS is, it is not guaranteed. Still, if Szymborski's formula is correct, there is more bad news in the home run department. He has Granderson dropping from 43 to 33. Cano falls from 33 to 28. Teixeira rises from 24 to 26. Still, that is a negative 13 homers.
5) YOUK = A-ROD: As maligned as Rodriguez has been, he still was seventh among AL third baseman with 18 homers. Sixth on the list was Kevin Youkilis, who had 19 in 25 fewer at-bats than Rodriguez. So that spot could be a push. ZiPS actually has Youkilis hitting 25 homers if he has 500 at-bats.
QUESTION: WITH THEIR POWER OUTAGE, WILL THE YANKEES HAVE ENOUGH OFFENSE TO WIN THE AL EAST?