Based on the fact you’ve found your way to this blog, I’m assuming you know how to look up baseball information on the internet. Either that, or you’re my mother and you simply feel an obligation to read the stuff I write (thanks Mom). If you know how to look up baseball information on the internet, then I assume you’re familiar with Baseball Reference. And if you’re familiar with Baseball Reference, you might have noticed that the site lists team-by-team player statistics based on which players spent the most time at each position.
Here’s what’s kind of amazing about it: That same page for 2014 might list a different Yankees regular at every single position. Think about that. The Yankees are in the middle of an almost total lineup reconstruction, with Brett Gardner being the only player who was a regular last season being projected as a regular next season (at a different position and a different spot in the order).
Last year’s regular: Chris Stewart
Next year’s projection: Brian McCann
The Yankees have traded Stewart to Pittsburgh, and signed McCann out of Atlanta. They didn’t necessarily intend to have Stewart as their regular catcher last season, and they made absolutely sure that he won’t be next season.
Last year’s regular: Lyle Overbay
Next year’s projection: Mark Teixiera
It was supposed to be Teixeira’s job last year, but there was that relatively minor issue of season-ending wrist surgery. No Teixeira forced the Yankees to turn to a guy who wasn’t even in camp until the very end of spring training. Ultimately, Overbay got 445 at-bats last season, his highest total since he left Toronto after the 2010 season.
SECOND BASELast year’s regular: Robinson Cano
Next year’s projection: Brian Roberts (I guess)
The Yankees have created a sort of mix-and-match situation at second base. While it’s hard to believe Roberts will be able to play enough to get enough at-bats to be considered the Yankees regular second baseman, I’m not sure there’s a better guess for the Yankees “regular second baseman” at this point. We know for certain it won’t be Cano.
Last year’s regular: Jayson Nix
Next year’s projection: Kelly Johnson (I guess)
Last year, Nix barely edged David Adams and Alex Rodriguez for the most innings spent at third base for the Yankees. As for next year, the position is a lot like second base in that it’s pretty up for grabs. Could be Johnson. Could be Rodriguez. Could be — I guess — Eduardo Nunez. Could be a guy like Mark Reynolds who’s not on the roster just yet. But with Nix a free agent, it seems safe to say it won’t be him. At least, it probably won’t be him.
Last year’s regular: Eduardo Nunez
Next year’s projection: Derek Jeter
Like first base, the Yankees projected starter for next season is the same as their projected starter for last season. Problem is, the projection didn’t work out last season. With Jeter suffering multiple setbacks, shortstop was left open to Nunez, who’s now fallen to third on the depth chart behind Jeter and Brendan Ryan.
Last year’s regular: Vernon Wells
Next year’s projection: Brett Gardner
Although Alfonso Soriano swooped in late in the year to give the Yankees more than 400 innings in left field, it was still Wells who spent the most time at the position. It was supposed to be Curtis Granderson’s position, but he finished with the fourth-most time at the position. Things would have to go very wrong for Wells to be the regular left fielder again next season.
Last year’s regular: Brett Gardner
Next year’s projection: Jacoby Ellsbury
No one came close to matching Gardner’s center field playing time last year, but now that Ellsbury has been signed to a seven-year deal, it seems inevitable that Gardner will slide back to left field (assuming he’s not shipped off in a trade). Gardner remains the most likely alternative in center.
Last year’s regular: Ichiro Suzuki
Next year’s projection: Carlos Beltran
If the Yankees end up trading Gardner, putting Soriano in left field, and making Beltran their regular DH, then there’s a chance Ichiro could once again be the team’s most commonly used right fielder. It’s not totally out of the question, but it’s certainly not in the cards as the team is currently constructed. Seems far more likely that Ichiro will be a little used fifth outfielder.
Last year’s regular: Travis Hafner
Next year’s projection: Alfonso Soriano
Even with the injury, Hafner still DHed in 77 games last season. Wells had the second-most for the Yankees with 22. The DH seems likely to see a lot of rotation again next season. I’ll go ahead and guess that Soriano will get the most at-bats based on the current roster, but I guess I wouldn’t be stunned if it were Beltran or even Rodriguez. I would, however, be stunned if it were Hafner.
Associated Press photos