- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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The Yankees have a showdown series in Washington this weekend. By the end of it, they could have the best record in baseball.
It hasn't felt that way for much of the first half of the season, largely because the Yankees continue to fail to hit with runners in scoring position.
They are at .220 with RISP this season.
The Yankees' hitters are actually underperforming, which, for the rest of the season, could be an encouraging sign -- or not -- depending on your point of view.
When you project the Yankees' batters, no one is having a career year. In fact, most are underwhelming in comparison to what they have done in the past. So does that mean there are a lot of numbers still to be accumulated -- or are some of these guys on the wrong side of the tracks?
Let's take a look, using ESPN.com's player-card projections:
Current: .276, 10 HRs, 30 RBIs
Projected: .276, 26 HRs, 78 RBIs
A-Rod is on pace to have his lowest full-season homer and RBI output since he had 23 and 84 in 1997 as a 21-year-old in Seattle. The next season, A-Rod exploded into the .310, 42-homer, 124-RBI monster that he has been for most of his career.
A-Rod hit the grand slam to tie Lou Gehrig's all-time record the other night, but there has been no power surge. The last week has been indicative of his season, as he hit .280 with one homer, a double, six singles and five walks.
If this continues, he profiles more as a No. 2 hitter than as a 3-4-5 guy. With his team-best .370 on-base percentage, he is more of a table-setter than a power guy.
Current: .319, 6 HRs, 20 RBIs
Projected: .319, 15 HRs, 62 RBIs
Jeter leads the team in batting average at .319. If he doesn't hit .300, the Yankees may not have anyone who does this season. If Jeter were to maintain his OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .800, it would match his 1996 season. That is a middling .OPS season for Jeter, who has been as high as .896 in '99 and has a career OPS of .831.
Whether Jeter can even maintain this pace is a legitimate question. In his last 35 games, he has hit only .253 with one homer and five RBIs.
Current: .294, 11 HRs, 30 RBIs
Projected: .294, 29 HRs, 78 RBIs
For all the flak A-Rod gets, it is probably worth pointing out that Rodriguez has the same number of RBIs and just one fewer homer than Cano. Cano hasn't looked like an MVP candidate and may not even be worthy of being an All-Star unless he picks it up.
If Cano finishes with 78 RBIs, it would be his lowest total since his relatively awful '08 season, when he had just 72. In '06, he had only 78, but he played just 122 games.
It seems we have been saying this all season, but if you want a reason to believe the Yankees are going to get even better, it starts with the second baseman. If Cano starts playing like the Cano everyone expected this year, the Yankees could move into another stratosphere.
Current: .250, 11 HRs, 36 RBIs
Projected: .250, 29 HRs, 94 RBIs
When Teixeira struggles, he always says he will have his numbers on the back of his baseball card. Well, it looks like he is going to be right again. Of course, his average isn't what it once was on that piece of cardboard.
He is a .250 hitter now. His .331 on-base percentage continues to be a problem. The year before he signed with the Yankees as a free agent, Teixeira's OBP was .410.
Current: .254, 19 HRs, 34 RBIs
Projected: .254, 50 HRs, 94 RBIs
Mr. "Not A Home Run Hitter" is basically a home run hitter or little else. Granderson continues to go deep more regularly than any other Yankee. His ability to hit lefties and his on-base percentage of just .345 means that he should always hit behind Rodriguez.
It seems like a good strategy to have A-Rod on the bases more for Granderson than vice versa. Teams are able to get Granderson out with off-speed stuff, but he hits nearly .300 against fastballs.
Current: .250, 10 HRs, 39 RBIs
Projected: .250, 26 HRs, 102 RBIs
If Swisher reaches his projected numbers, he would have a career high in RBIs. Still, the digits that are eye-popping so far from Swisher's walk-year is his inability to consistently reach base.
Swisher's best quality may be his on-base percentage. In his career, he gets on base at a .353 clip, which is even more impressive considering his career batting average rests nearly 100 points lower at .258.
This season, his OBP is .313. Going on the assumption that Swisher will end up closer to his career percentage, this could be an area where the Yankees improve.
Current: .251, 10 HRs, 31 RBIs
Projected: .251, 26 HRs, 81 RBIs
Ibanez is projected to finish with more RBIs than Cano and Rodriguez. Not too shabby.
In part, that is a testament to where A-Rod and Cano stand, but it is also a compliment to Ibanez. If there is a guy who may slow down, Ibanez could be a good candidate.
He is 40 and has been asked to play more outfield than the Yankees intended.
Current: .203, 8 HRs, 20 RBIs
Projected: .203, 21 HRs, 52 RBIs
Martin couldn't hit for much of the season. So far in June, though, he is batting .257 and has hit five of his homers. He is a candidate to be better from here on out since he is a career .263 batter.
After a slow start to 2012, are better numbers in store for the Bombers' bats?