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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Where the Yankees rank across the diamond

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 02, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

During my week away from the blog, Buster Olney published an interesting series of rankings in various categories. The Yankees, of course, finished near the top at most spots, with one notable exception. Here’s a look at Olney’s rankings, with some of my own thoughts.

Rotation
Yankees: Not ranked
No surprise that the Yankees didn’t make the cut here. Beyond CC Sabathia, the Yankees rotation remains a significant unknown full of possibilities (both good and bad). Was last year’s second half a true indication of Ivan Nova’s ability? Was the first half a true indication that Phil Hughes has too many injury concerns to sustain success? Can Freddy Garcia repeat? Can A.J. Burnett bounce back? Can the organization’s pitching prospects have an impact? Too many unknowns to consider this among the top 10 rotations in baseball, but too much potential to say it can’t finish that way.

Bullpen
Yankees: Ranked second
The Braves group of young relievers took the top spot here, and Olney noted that the Yankees can’t match Atlanta from the left side (which is a fair point). However, Olney also noted that Dave Robertson might be the game’s best right-handed setup man, and obviously the Yankees bullpen remains one of the deepest and most highly touted in the game.

Infield
Yankees: Ranked third
Texas and Cincinnati took the top two spots, and Olney noted that Texas could get even better if they jump into the Prince Fielder bidding. The Rangers obviously got rave reviews for their left side, and it was the Yankees left side that was questioned because of the signs of aging in Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in the game, but the same can no longer be said for Rodriguez or Jeter. Mark Teixeira is still an elite defender and huge power threat, but he hasn’t been the same all-around hitter the Yankees saw in 2009.

Outfield
Yankees: Ranked second
Arizona finished at the top, but I think you could make a pretty strong argument for the Yankees being in that spot. Curtis Granderson has emerged as an MVP candidate, Brett Gardner might be the best defensive outfielder in the game and Nick Swisher is a steady source of power with a knack for reaching base. Kind of like the bullpen, ranking second is no slight, but the Diamondbacks seem to have the edge because of the immense talent of young Justin Upton who’s still just 24 years old and could be on the verge of being one of the game’s truly elite hitters.

Lineup
Yankees: Ranked third 
Interestingly, the Red Sox finished at the top of this list, despite ranking behind the Yankees in both the outfield and infield rankings. But, as Olney noted, his lineup list was all about production, and the Red Sox led the majors in runs scored last season. For the Yankees, their lineups production might hinge on an Alex Rodriguez resurgence and a Jesus Montero emergence. Obviously both have the potential to be dynamic run producers, but age — on each end of the spectrum — leads to questions for each of them. The Rangers settled into the second spot on the list, just ahead of the Yankees.

Team
Yankees: Ranked fourth
Gutsy call by Olney, who ranked the Rays as the best team in baseball right now. He based that on their combination of pitching and defense, headlined by a rotation that’s capable of absolute greatness with James Sheilds, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. Olney notes that the Rays can’t make up for a major injury the way the Yankees or Red Sox can, but right now, he has them at the top. The Yankees come in behind the Phillies and Rangers on Olney’s list. If things go right, the Yankees could finish much higher, but there are enough unknowns to make this a fair ranking.

Associated Press photos 

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