We authors here at TYU all seem to bring something different to the proverbial table. Moshe grinds out meaningful posts that are well developed and thought provoking. E.J. does the prospect thing. Steve likes to touch on the “hot button” issues of Yankee-land. Chris and I delve into a more analytical realm. Of course, we all reach across “genres” and touch on all of these things. Like we who write about them, each of the Yankee hitters brings his own special skills to the plate and the field.
Let’s kick it off with the man behind the plate: Jorge Posada. It’s my contention that Jorge is one of the most underrated players of the last twenty years. His offense out of the catcher’s spot has been both consistent and at a high level for 15 years and aside from Mike Piazza, he has been the finest offensive catcher in the game (Joe Mauer will take this title shortly, but Posada’s done it for a long time). Anyway, that’s enough gushing. Jorge’s value, like many Yankees, comes from patience and power. His .277 average is quite average, but his .379 OBP is more than solid and his .480 SLG is good for anyone, let a lone a catcher.
It’s hard to think of something Mark doesn’t do well. He plays solid defense. He’s a good contact hitter (.290 career batting average). He’s patient at the plate (.373 career OBP, 80 walks per 162 games). He’s got great power (.545 SLG, .255 IsoP, 80 XBH per 162). Basically, Tex is arguably the most well-rounded player on the Yankees. Teixeira brings value to the team in a big variety of ways and I speak for all Yankee fans when I say I’m incredibly happy he is on the team.
Robbie Cano is a player with incredible talent, and is probably the third best second baseman in baseball–I give Pedroia the edge over Cano because Rogaine’s defense is better–but there are hols in his game. His defense is flashy at times, but awful at others. His lack of on base skills is also a bit frustrating (.033 IsoD, 4.2% BB%, average is around 9%). Cano, however, does two things very well: he hits for average (.306 career BA, 11.7 career K%, league average is about 20%) and hit for power (.480 career SLG, .173 IsoP, league average is about .155). If you’re looking for a patient hitter to work walks, Cano isn’t your guy. However, if you’re looking for a guy who’s gonna make a lot of contact and hit the ball real hard when he does make contact, look no further than Robbie.
A-Rod is like Tex. He does everything well. He may strike out a bit, 130 per 162, but he still hits for a high average at .302, gets on base at a .390 clip (.401 since joining the Yankees). Alex mashes the ball, with a career .576 SLG and .204 IsoP, with a 162 game average of 79 XBH, and 583 home runs in his career. Alex’s defense has taken a down turn in the last few years, but his offense cannot be overlooked. He’s one of the top hitters in the game and it’s quite clear from where his value comes.
Derek Jeter is the more patient, but slightly less powerful, version of Robinson Cano. His defense is so-so (though it was sparkling in ’09), but his offense, especially relative to his position, is dreamy. A career .317/.388/.459 hitter, the Captain is good for around 200 hits and 70 walks per season. Like Teixeira and Rodriguez–but with lesser power and more contact–Jeter does everything well.
In a word: speed. Gardner’s speed is what will give him value to the team in 2010 and beyond. His on-base skills were very good in the minors, but they haven’t been great at the major league level. If he can keep his OBP where he kept it last year–between .340 and .350–then his speed will be incredibly valuable because he’ll be on base enough for his steals to matter. His lack of power, though, makes it seem possible that pitchers will simply challenge Brett and not allow him to reach via the walk.
Curtis’s best feature is his power. His career slugging percentage is .484 and his IsoP is .212. Curtis does have a bit of a hole in his swing–149 strikeouts per 162–but he walks at a decent clip: .344 OBP, 67 BBs/162, 9.5% career BB%. If Curtis’s BABIP can rebound (.321 career, .275 in ’09), and he continues to hit for power and walk at an average rate, Curtis’s offense will be quite valuable in 2010.
Disclaimer: I love Nick Swisher. Anyway, whenever discussing Nick Swisher–or players like him–with casual fans, I lead off with this: if you like players that hit for high batting averages, Nick Swisher is not gonna be a guy you like. Nick is never going to hit .300. What Nick is going to do, however, is still valuable: he walks a lot and he hits for a lot of power. Swisher’s career BA is a lowly .245 but his career on base percentage is .357 and his career slugging percentage is .460. That means an IsoD of .112 and an IsoP of .216; those are excellent marks. Swisher’s value comes from his patience and his power.
Last but not least is new-old- friend Nick Johnson. Johnson is like the “lite” version” of Swisher: he hits for more contact, .273 as opposed to Swish’s .245, but he also hits for less power: .447 and an IsoP of .174. However, Johnson’s on base skills are supreme: .402 career OBP, 15.6% walk rate, 0.93 BB/K. Out of the two hole, Johnson’s skill set will be invaluable in 2010. Not only will his hits move Derek Jeter around, but his walks will set up more RBI opportunities for the big boppers behind him.