We are less than a month away from the first pitch of Spring Training. It has been a long winter without baseball and fantasy baseball, but soon enough the gridiron will fade and our focus can rightfully return to that beautiful diamond.
To get us set for the return of baseball, I will be previewing each team for fantasy purposes over the next six weeks. There clearly is no better place to begin, than in the cradle of baseball civilization, the A.L. East, and more specifically, with the New York Yankees.
The proud and majestic Yankees found themselves out of sorts in the playoffs last year. The team was too old and too selfish according to critics within the Big Apple and the Detroit Tigers eventually swept them under the rug.
While the Yanks have done little to infuse youth into their side, there is still plenty of fantasy value on this storied roster. It’s simply a matter of finding it.
I bet you didn’t know that Phil Hughes won 16 games last year. I would bet even more that you didn’t know that it’s the second time in his career that he’s done so. He posted 18 wins in 2010. Despite the constant concern of an arm injury, Hughes has been very consistent over the past several years and has quietly turned into the pitcher we all thought he could be. Granted, the strikeouts will probably never reach a Roger Clemens level, but there is still plenty of room on a fantasy roster for a guy who wins 15-18 games and posts solid ratios.
I am throwing Brett Gardner’s 2012 out the window completely. There is no reason to think it affects him going forward. With that being said, I think there is every reason to expect him to post another 90 run, 45-50 stolen base season. His power is limited but he is going to score and run a lot this year, especially if he maintains the .323 batting average he posted in his shortened 2012 campaign.
It’s time to face the fact that Mark Teixeira will never hit for average again. It’s been three straight years of .256 or worse now, and the power numbers are starting to suffer as a result. Though he has consistently been in the 25-35 homer range throughout his career, his hands seem to be slowing, specifically from the right side of the plate. You can pencil him in for 25 homers and 100 runs batted in, but unfortunately, you can also pencil him in for a .245 batting average, zero stolen bases, and 110 strikeouts.
As it stands right now, Austin Romine figures to be the Yankees’ starting catcher. He has long been touted as a safe prospect. While I doubt that he is a complete bust, I think the rook has limited upside this season and probably for his career.
The job, after all these years, still belongs to Mariano Rivera. Despite the fact that he is coming off major surgery and is 43-years-old, I can’t help but believe that Rivera will be a top 10 closer in 2013. Combine the obvious sheer volume of save opportunities the Yanks will throw his way, and I think Mo is still worth drafting and may be a massive value pick this year if other drafters are too scared to pull the trigger.
Mark Teixeira finished as the 24th best first basemen in standard scoring leagues in 2012. This left him behind some outstanding talents such as Garrett Jones, Tyler Colvin, and Daniel Murphy. Ouch.
A lot has been made of Derek Jeter’s injury and its impact on his 2013 season. I think that it is much ado about nothing. The captain will be back in time to start Spring Training, and once he get’s his timing back, he’s going to go back to being the same old Derek Jeter. Obviously, he is not what he used to be defensively, but the guy can still flat out hit. Call me crazy, but there are not three other shortstops in baseball I’d rather have on my fantasy team than Jeter.
The average may have dipped for Ichiro Suzuki last season, but he still stole 29 bases. While clearly, he is no longer in his prime, I expect a mini resurgence from Ichiro in 2013 with the Yankees.