Where to start? Every preseason, for the last few years, there are two questions in my mind regarding the Yankees.First, where will the starting pitching come from and second, when will we see a youth injection? And every year, it just does not seem to matter. Those same Yankees are a threat to make the playoffs and, win it all. Batters? We have been waiting on Derek Jeter's decline for several years. Even at 38, I won't take that bet. Ichiro? I'll take a .283 BA, 29 steals, and 77 runs from my fourth outfielder in a deep mixed league. There's just something about putting on those pinstripes.I am not a Yankees fan, but each year I admire the team, because each year they compete. I think my nephew is a closet-Yankees fan, but I still send him money each year for his birthday, in spite of that.
For this article, let's start at 1B, and take a look at Mark Teixeira. Injuries may have prevented another 30+ HR season, but he still went yard 24 times, drove in 84, and scored 66 runs. Nice production from Mr. Teixeira. His batting average is not what it was, but, his .251 did not hurt too much. But, as Mark turns 33 next April, can we expect the production to continue? While I think the answer to that is "yes," some warning clouds may be forming that should be monitored by dynasty league owners.With 338 career major league home runs, Mr. Teixeira can hit the ball a long way. From 2004 to 2011 Teixera owners enjoyed 30+ HR and 100+ RBI, and, until 2010, a decent BA to boot. But unless you just punt the category, his BA did not hurt too much over the last three seasons. Could the power be waning? I think so. We could chalk up the lower power totals in 2012 to his August left calf strain, but let's delve deeper. 2012 also marked (see what I did there?) an uptick in his GB% to 41%, after three straight years of 35% and 36%. In addition, Mark's FB% declined to 39% in 2012, after three straight years of 44% to 47%. That right field porch might be nice, but you have to hit the ball in the air to take advantage of it, and if those percentages turn into trends, owners may not get the power numbers they have come to expect. Finally, while his 138 PX is comfortably above the league average of 100, 2012 was the first year since 2006 that it was below 145. Finally, let's take a look at that batting average.With a CT% of 82% and a BB% of 11%, you could excuse Teixeira owners if they were disappointed in Mark's .251, but that appears to be what they should expect. In spite of a xBA of .282, the last three seasons tell a different story, and I expect more of the same. Overall, feel free to draft Teixeira as a starting 1B, but if you are in a dynasty league, be cognizant of the potential power decline, and be willing to sell high, if the right offer comes your way.
Generally in this series, I will stay away from the stars and look at middle to late round possibilities, but, as I hinted at earlier, the Yankees are loaded, so, it is hard not to find a star. That said, I will continue with Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda is a star. If I asked you what would happen if a right-handed starting pitcher, who allowed 1.07 HR/9 (in technical terms, above 1.00 is considered "not so good") in 2011, pitching in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, moved to the home run-haven known as Yankee Stadium, you would be excused if you guessed that the HR/9 would increase. Instead, Mr. Kuroda made the necessary adjustments (for the record, I have no idea what those adjustments were, but, whatever he did, it worked.), increased his GB% by over 9%, decreased his FB% by 5%, and his HR/9 declined to 1.02. For the year, Hiroki fanned a career high 167 in 219.2 IP, for a 6.84 K/9. This, along with a BB/9 of 2.09 and an ERA of 3.32, made this gentleman a very nice starter for fantasy owners in 2012. Can he repeat in 2013? Why not? In five major league seasons, Kuroda has a career K/9 of 6.76, a career BB/9 of 2.10, and a career ERA of 3.42. The fact that he went from the pitcher-friendly NL West (pitching in AT&T Park and Petco Park, in addition to Dodgers Stadium) to the hitter-friendly AL East (Fenway Park and Rogers Centre, in addition to Yankees Stadium) makes the 2012 numbers remarkable, and a look at the consistency in his underlying stats makes me confident he can continue pitching well in 2013. Kuroda has kept his WHIP between 1.14 and 1.22 in each of his five seasons. Additionally, in four of his five seasons, his BB/9 has been either 2.1 or 2.2, his K/9 has lived comfortably between 6.7 and 7.3, his GB% has stayed between 49% and 52%, and his FB% has stayed between 29% and 33%. Folks, this is a ground ball pitcher, who can strike batters out. For 2013, I look for more of the same; 200+ IP, 165 K's, an ERA at 3.58, and a WHIP around 1.27.Consider Hiroki a third starter, just below the Cain's and Hamels' of the league, and enjoy the consistency.
Let's finish the article with Phil Hughes. Phil has spent his entire career in the Yankee organization.Since 2006 he has been between the minor league and major league four times. 2012 marked only his second full season in the major leagues. He sports a very nice career K/9 of 7.58 and BB/9 of 2.16, but he is a right handed, fly ball pitcher, making roughly half his starts in a Yankee Stadium, that makes left handed power hitters drool. In 2012 his HR/9 was a not-so-nifty 1.65 that paired nicely with his 48% FB%. His WHIP was serviceable at 1.26, but those home runs helped give him an ERA of 4.23. More of the same for 2013? I think so. His 2012 xERA was 4.13, too close to the real thing to offer any hope, but still, his WHIP is OK, and he will probably strikeout around 158. Looking for wins? A starting pitcher in a Yankee uniform is a good bet for those. Don't look for Mr. Hughes to be your ace, but, in a deep mixed league, at the back of your rotation, he should be fine.
Did I miss a Yankee you would like me to review? Leave a comment, and I will do my best. See you soon.