Last season, some Yankee fans complained that the team’s lineup of sluggers hit too many home runs. This winter, the organization has apparently endeavored to correct that problem. Who says the Evil Empire isn’t responsive to its fan base?
According to several reports, the Yankees are close to re- signing Ichiro Suzuki, who, along with Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson, would give the team a lefty-laden outfield. More Bronx Burners than Bombers, this trio isn’t likely to match the power supplied by last year’s contingent, so, if the Yankees hope to maintain a league leading offense, they’ll probably have to do quite a bit more manufacturing.
Note: Includes PH home runs by outfielders who remained in the game.
Even if you assume Granderson, Suzuki, and Gardner all match their season high home run total, it would only amount to 65 home runs, or nearly one-third less than the 91 posted last season by the team’s outfield. However, a deeper look at the team’s historical home run contribution from the outfield reveals that this total would not be far from the norm. In fact, it would exactly equal the average output contributed by the outfield over the previous 10 seasons (2002 to 2011).
It’s probably wishful thinking to assume all three outfielders will hit their career highs in 2012. However, even if you project their 2013 totals based on last year’s home run rates and variable playing time assumptions, the final tally still comes close to 65. So, even if the Yankees enter the season with a light hitting outfield, it doesn’t mean the team will necessarily suffer a power outage.
Yankees’ 2013 Outfield Power Scenarios
|Player||High||Year||2012 HR/PA*||Proj. PAs||Proj. HR|
*Suzuki’s 2012 HR/PA as a Yankee; Gardner’s 2011 HR/PA; Granderson’s 2012 HR/PA.
Note: Yankees have averaged 2,135 outfielder PAs over the past 10 seasons, so assumptions above would leave 385 PAs for additional outfielders.
A bigger power concern for the Yankees is the home run hemorrhaging that seems to be taking place in the infield, catcher, and DH positions. With the loss of Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez and Russell Martin, the potential departure of Raul Ibanez, and the injury to Alex Rodriguez, 88 home runs, or 36% of last year’s total, could be unaccounted for in 2013. Combined with the power drain in the outfield, the Yankees are a long shot to come close to last year’s record total of 245 long balls.
There’s still plenty of time for the Yankees to fill their power gap. If the team can acquire another right handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro (Cody Ross?), sign a slugger for the DH slot (maybe Lance Berkman?), and add power behind the plate (A.J. Pierzynski, who hit 27 home runs last year, is still available), the drop off won’t be as substantial. There’s also the possibility that the new lineup could compensate in other ways, but if too many home runs do go missing, those who have scorned them may finally learn their lesson.