Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

AL East Preview: New York Yankees


New York Yankees

After winning the AL East in 2011 and 2012, the Yankees took a step back in 2013, finishing third in the division and 12 games back of the rivaled Red Sox. Watching the Red Sox win the World Series from home was not how the Yankees wanted to spend their October, which is why they have been extremely aggressive this offseason. The Yankees stayed with their old philosophy, if you can’t beat them, buy them. They shelled out big money for star players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and the Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. They have certainly invested a lot into the present, will it pay off?

The Yankees have a lineup full of experience and talent.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury is one of the most highly regarded outfielders in the game. He is a great leadoff hitter, base stealer, and fielder. Ellsbury’s biggest issue is staying healthy as he only played 18 games in 2010 and 74 games in 2012. When he is healthy, he is one of the best in the business. Last season Ellsbury had a .298 batting average, .355 OBP, and 52 stolen bases. Those kind of numbers are what makes him one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball. Ellsbury showed he could play in a big city during his time in Boston, so look for him to put up more impressive numbers in New York if he can stay healthy.

Alfonso Soriano: I have always been a huge fan of Alfonso Soriano’s game, his swing is a thing of beauty and produces a lot of power. The Yankees were very happy to get the veteran back midway through last season from the Chicago Cubs. Soriano’s offensive numbers were fantastic for a 37 year-old last season: 34 home runs, 101 RBIs, .255 AVG, and a .791 OPS. Soriano should be a huge part in the Yankees’ offensive success this season.

The Yankees have one of the most talented starting rotations in the American League with Sabathia, Nova, Kuroda, Tanaka, and Pineda. The big question in that rotation will be the big acquisition from Japan, Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka has had a solid spring, pitching 15 innings with a 3.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts. There is no doubt he has immense talent, but sometimes that doesn’t translate into the MLB.

Prediction

The Yankees have talent all around the field, but it is doubtful that they will all stay healthy. Many of their key players are either injury prone, aging, or both. For that reason, I think the Yankees will finish 85-77 and end up third in the division. I believe it will be a tight race between the top three teams in the division, but I see age and injuries holding the Yankees back this season.

Fantasy Sleeper

Brett Gardner is quietly becoming one of the most solid outfielders in the AL East. Gardner is a great fielder who hits for contact and has a ton of speed on the base paths. In 2013, Gardner had 33 doubles, 10 triples, 24 stolen bases, and sported a .273 average. I believe the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury will help Gardner free up at the plate and on the base paths.

Check in over the weekend to see who I have taking the AL East crown!

*All statistics from www.baseball-reference.com

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Tags: AL East