Commentary

Projecting the Yankees' 2012 lineup

Bombers locked and loaded once again ... though all bets are off come October

Updated: April 4, 2012, 10:36 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

The Yankees scored the second-most runs in baseball last year. A Bomber touched home plate 867 times, just eight fewer times than a member of the Boston Red Sox did.

A year later, with the same exact players, the path around the bases figures to be as consistent. The only obstacles could be age and injury, but when your biggest problems may be Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, your worries are small.

At least in the regular season, where the Yankees' recent inability to pick up an important RBI single against top pitching is minimized by the parity of a 162-game schedule.

To tell you what will happen before it does, we have taken out ESPN New York's crystal ball again and, with the aid of ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections, we will tell you where the numbers will rise and fall from now until October.

DEREK JETER

Jeter
Jeter

2011: .297, 6 HRs, 61 RBIs

ZiPS: .268, 7 HRs, 58 RBIs

Marchand: All spring, Jeter looked much more like the post-3K Jeter than the recent pre-3K Jeter. For a year and a half, from 2010 into the first half of last season, Jeter looked like an aged ballplayer. From the day he went 5-for-5 on that sun-splashed July 9 until the end of the season, he hit .338 with a .392 on-base percentage.

I don't think he will be that good for the entire year, but I do think a .287 average with a .360 on-base is reasonable to expect for the soon-to-be 38-year-old Jeter.


CURTIS GRANDERSON

Granderson
Granderson

2011: .262, 41 HR, 119 RBIs

ZiPS: .256, 31 HRs, 104 RBIs

Marchand: Granderson was an MVP candidate last year so even though he should be very good, he probably takes a step back. The guy has a very even-keeled way of going about his business, so the drop-off will probably be slight. I'll say .258 with 33 HRs and 99 RBIs.


ROBINSON CANO

Cano
Cano

2011: .302, 28 HRs, 118 RBIs

ZiPS: .299, 25 HRs, 103 RBIs

Marchand: Spoiler alert: I'm picking Cano to win the AL MVP, so I think his numbers are going to be off the charts.

"His swing is right where it needs to be," a scout said this week.

It is all there for the 29-year-old Cano to become the undisputed leader of the team as he moves into the No. 3 spot full-time. He will hit .312 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs. Add in a Gold Glove and you could be watching the MVP of the league.


ALEX RODRIGUEZ

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

2011: .276, 16 HRs, 62 RBIs

ZiPS: .264, 21 HRs, 81 RBIs

Marchand: The real number we need up here is 99. That is the number of games A-Rod played last year. You can't really talk about what his offensive numbers will be without guessing how much he will be on the field.

Given his past few years, I don't think you can really expect A-Rod to play more than 125 games between the days off Joe Girardi will give him and the inevitable stop on the disabled list. So with that said, I think A-Rod will be in the .267, 20-homer, 90-RBI range.


MARK TEIXEIRA

Teixeira
Teixeira

2011: .248, 39 HRs, 111 RBIs

ZiPS: .263, 32 HRs, 109 RBIs

Marchand: Teixeira could be the most interesting Yankees hitter to watch this season. A scout said, "I saw an attempt to use the whole field with some success," in the spring. The scout added that some teams might like Teixeira's new focus and will keep the shift on, in effect saying, "Go ahead, hit .300 and never hit a home run against us."

I think Teixeira pumps the average a little, going up to .259, while hitting 32 homers and driving in 106 runs.


NICK SWISHER

Swisher
Swisher

2011: .260, 23 HRs, 85 RBIs

ZiPS: .253, 24 HRs, 82 RBIs

Marchand: Swisher came into camp in what he described as the best shape of his career. The reason? Well, it is his walk year. Swisher's year will be intriguing because we all know about his playoff failures. Is it just a small sample size? The pressure? Good pitching?

This year, it is money time for Swisher. How will he respond? I think you will get your typical Swisher year, which means .265 with 22 homers and 87 RBIs. Will that get him Jayson Werth money? I doubt it. But that is a story for another day.


RAUL IBANEZ

Ibanez
Ibanez

2011: .245, 20 HRs, 84 RBIs

ZiPS: .253, 18 HRs, 83 RBIs

Marchand: Ibanez is almost exclusively going to face right-handed pitching. Last year, he hit .256 with 16 homers and 60 RBIs. So those are the numbers we really should work with. If he is right, he will probably hit around .251 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs.


RUSSELL MARTIN

Martin
Martin

2011: .237, 18 HRs, 65 RBIs

ZiPS: .249, 13 HRs, 58 RBIs

Marchand: The Yankees first and foremost want solid defense from Martin. His bat can be a plus. Last year, in the second half, he batted .259, so he may hit for more average.

Martin is a free agent and, based off Yadier Molina's five-year, $75 million deal, could score big-time. I think Martin will step up with his big payday possibly looming and hit for a .253 average with 20 homers and 72 RBIs.


BRETT GARDNER

Gardner
Gardner

2011: .259, 7 HRs, 36 RBIs

ZiPS: .260, 6 HRs, 39 RBIs

Marchand: With Gardner, it is all about the on-base percentage. It needs to be higher than .345. With his lack of power, he needs to get on base more because that utilizes his best quality, his speed. Last year, he struggled early with his stolen bases, but he finished with 49 swipes.

I think Gardner will have around the same numbers, so I'll go with a .347 on-base and 52 steals.


BENCH

Nunez
Nunez

Marchand: The most important player on the Yankees' bench will be Eduardo Nunez. Nunez played a lot last year, starting more than half the team's games. This year, he may play even more often.

If Eric Chavez can stay healthy, he should get at least one start a week at third base as A-Rod DHs. Francisco Cervelli will probably have a similar arrangement behind home plate. As for the outfield, Andruw Jones will play a lot against lefties, either as the team's DH or in left field.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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