Here are the top five questions in 2012 that my beloved New York Yankees face. It may not be a pretty season…
5. Is Michael Pineda a Number Two or a Number Four?
It is hard to imagine a worse transition for a young pitcher than what Pineda faces this year. Virtually every single factor will be far worse this year with the exception of the team offense: the park, the defense, the division, the pressure, the environment, you name it.
But that team offense makes a big difference. The last time I checked wins are still a category in every fantasy league, and when pitchers like Ivan Nova can win 16 we can be forgiven for thinking Pineda can win 20.
The stuff is there, the skills need work but are very solid and supporters have to hope that second half fade is not his true level. The scales right now are roughly even for his fantasy value in 2012, so it is boom or bust.
4. Can Derek Jeter do it one more time?
Virtually every fantasy pundit, this one included, believed Jeter’s fantasy value was as dead as Julius Caesar. Then came his 3,000th hit and a torrid stretch that brought back memories of the good old days.
Consider, though, that the power loss is real. The loss of speed and steals is real. The only value here is an empty batting average and a dozen steals. And that assumes the second half is a resurgence and not a fluke, which is no guarantee. My view is that the first half is the true skill level, so a 5 HR .270 BA 10 SB season is a strong possibility, making me want to retch in the process.
3. Can Alex Rodriguez rebound?
Yes, and if you draft Brett Lawrie ahead of him you deserve what you get whether it is good or bad. A-Rod was just fine in the first half last year before being dinged up. We are giving him a big mulligan for last year since virtually every skill erosion seen in the second half – GB%, Power, LD% – can be explained by his maladies. Think .30-.100-.290 and draft him for the last time at a price that will get big profits; the end is near, but it is not this year folks.
2. How many home runs will Curtis Granderson hit?
Which one of these does not belong: 12-11-12-13-14-21? These are Granderson’s HR/FB rates over the last six seasons. Every other skill metric was within expectations, so any conclusion about the park or a resurgence is not based on any real evidence. Granderson is destined to be an Alternate Universe Hall of Famer, but you can write in stone that he will not repeat 41 HR. Of course, if you disagree you can cite Paul Konerko, about whom we wrote something similar last year.
And the number one question facing the Yankees is….
1.Can Mark Teixeira get his BABIP over .250?
More than anything else, even more than the success of the pitching staff, may hold the key to the team’s (and yours if you draft him) success. With expected declines expected in many spots on offense Tex is the key. His skill set is a good example of the “what the hell is going on” method of analysis. Your guess is as good as mine; there is no skill erosion to speak of other than a baffling inability to get hits on balls in play in a good hitter’s park. He is just as good as he ever was but for that BABIP.
The lesson here is that not everything has a cause. If you flip a coin enough times you get streaks that are not explained. Randomness is just next to gravity in terms of the force they exert on fantasy players, and they are both the bane and boon of the fantasy player’s existence. There is no reason that his BABIP erosion must have a cause, so we ignore it, chalk it up to randomness and project a BABIP back in the .330 range, with a top ten season and possible MVP award.