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April 3, 2005

One man's Yankee predictions
by TVerik

I don't mean to slap SG around for his staff predictions, but this is a Yankee blog. So I'm going to give a few individual predictions.

One of the reasons I didn't give my predictions for individual awards the other day is because I really only follow one team enough to know rookies or non-star breakout players.

Picking injuries is not fun and fruitless. So I assume here that everyone's as healthy as they were last year, or the year before.

So without further ado:

Yankee team leaders:

OBP: Last year, Posada had a .400, Matsui had a .390, and Sheffield had a .393.

I don't see any new acquisitions challenging for this. Giambi, Jeter and A-Rod are both capable of challenging for this if they have good years (Giambi had a .412 in 2003, in an "off" year).

But the choice here is Posada. I think he'll hit a bit better this year, and walk about the same amount.

SLG%: Last year, A-Rod had a .512, Matsui had a .522, and Sheffield had a .534, finishing second in MVP voting. In 2003, Giambi had a .527, while Posada had a .518.

I think it's a bit of a toss-up. But I'll take A-Rod. I think he'll have a good year, for A-Rod-in-Yankee-Stadium.

Caught Stealing: This isn't usually seen in stat lists. But I regard stolen base counting totals as next to meaningless, and SB% unfairly penalizes very small sample sizes.

Last year, Sheffield was caught 6 times in 11 attempts, and Bernie was caught a putrid 5 times in 6 attempts.

Everyone's favorite second baseman, Tony Woe-mack, was only caught 5 times in 31 attempts last year; I don't know if we can count on that continuing. He was also caught 5 times in 2003, in 18 attempts. These numbers have been fallling; Tony was good for consistent double-digits earlier in his career.

Few of the Yankee basestealers are inefficient (save Bernie, and I don't consider him a basestealer). So while the smart choice to "lead" the team in CS would be Womack, I think Sheffield will continue to run and get caught. So Gary is my pick.

ERA: Only the dearly departed El Duque had an ERA under 4 among last year's Yankees (among starters). Kevin Brown was actually next-best at 4.09. But neither of them 150 innings. Newcomer Randy Johnson has been as high as 4.26 in 2003, but had a 2.60 last year.

Even given that those numbers will go up with a change of leagues (although Yankee Stadium might keep them a bit lower), it would be idiotic not to pick RJ for ERA leader (over 150IP). Unless Mussina (3.40 in 2003) bounces way back and RJ falls off or gets hurt, I have to choose Johnson.

The final choice here measures the usefulness of the Yankee bullpen. Picking anything for Rivera is silly - if he's healthy, he'll pick up 35 saves; even if he isn't effective. ERA for relievers is not a wonderful tool - sample size issues abound. Most statistics for relievers are usage-bound.

So, completely arbitrarily, I'll be choosing the Yankee reliever with the most strikeouts next year. in 2004, it was Gordon, with 96. Contrary to his reputation, Rivera is not particularly a strikeout threat anymore. So I'll have to choose Tom Gordon again this year; I can't see a newcomer having that many (unless Felix Rodriguez is better than I think he is, or unless Mike Stanton cleans out Giambi's medicine cabinet).

What do you think, blog readers? What categories would you throw into the list? Which players do you like or not like to lead the team in these?