Fantasy baseball 2013 team previews: New York Yankees
It was another banner year in the Bronx, though not the type that excites the Yankees or their fans. They won their division but fell to the Tigers in the ALCS, which amounts to a near failure in the Derek Jeter era. Speaking of Jeter, he had a resurgent 2012, but took a backseat to teammates Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, who were both fantasy stars.
Surprisingly, the Yankees' strength may have been their starting pitching. They lost Michael Pineda for the season during spring training, but didn't miss a beat. CC Sabathia had his third consecutive All-Star year in pinstripes, Hiroki Kuroda proved to be one of the biggest bargains of the entire offseason, and Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova served as reliable No. 3 and No. 4 starters all season long. When Andy Pettitte returned, the Yankees had one of the strongest rotations, top to bottom, in the entire league.
New York returns largely the same roster from a year ago in name, but it might not be the same product on the field. The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in the majors, and the AL East remains as tough as ever. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez will all miss significant time at the beginning of the season due to injury; meanwhile the Blue Jays loaded up this winter, the Rays have a lights-out rotation, the Orioles won 93 games last year and the Red Sox are still the Red Sox. And despite all that, the Yankees are still a favorite to make the playoffs. There's plenty of value here for fantasy owners.
1. Derek Jeter, SS 2. Ichiro Suzuki, LF 3. Robinson Cano, 2B 4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B 5. Travis Hafner, DH 6. Juan Rivera, 1B 7. Brennan Boesch, RF 8. Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervilli, C 9. Brett Gardner, CF
1. Derek Jeter, SS 2. Ichiro Suzuki, RF 3. Robinson Cano, 2B 4. Mark Teixeira, 1B 5. Curtis Granderson, CF 6. Kevin Youkilis, 3B 7. Juan Rivera/Travis Hafner, DH 8. Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervelli, C 9. Brett Gardner, LF
1. CC Sabathia 2. Hiroki Kuroda 3. Andy Pettitte 4. Phil Hughes 5. Ivan Nova
Whether or not you draft Granderson should depend on roster composition. Obviously if you're doing well in the power category, you won't have any reason to risk going after him. If you find yourself needing power, though, Granderson could be a stealthy pick. Comparing him with outfielders who fill up similar categories, I'd rather have him than Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and Josh Willingham. For me, he's still a top-30 outfielder.
First of all, Teixeira had been falling off from a batting-average standpoint for the last three years, and he hit just .251/.332/.475 last year. In 2012, his power fell off a cliff when he hit 24 homers, the lowest total of his career. His 16 percent home run/fly ball ratio was the second worst of his career. On top of all that, a right wrist injury has a tendency to completely sap all the power from a left-handed hitter. Your bottom hand is crucial when hitting, and we have plenty of evidence that shows power hitters aren't the same when they first return from wrist injuries. No matter what you might think about when Teixeira will return this season, cross him off your cheat sheet now.
The one area Sabathia regressed last year was his susceptibility to the long ball. He allowed nearly one home run per nine innings and posted a 12.5 percent home run/fly ball ratio, both career highs. Despite the fact that Yankee Stadium is one of the most homer-friendliest parks in the league, Sabathia pitched much better in the Bronx than he did away from it. He had a 2.69 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, and gave up nine homers in 97 innings at Yankee Stadium. On the road, he had a 4.02 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, and allowed 13 homers in 103 innings. The fact that he pitched so well at Yankee Stadium gives me confidence that he'll continue along his elite 12-year trajectory. Draft him with alacrity, as you've been doing all these years.
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