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A Betting Man's Guide: New York Yankees Preview
New York Yankees - Over/Under 93
The Yankees come into the 2012 baseball season with the hopes of defending their divisional crown, and ultimately winning the World Series. Their talent pool is deep and GM Brian Cashman made some savvy offseason moves. Trading from a position of strength, a high-end hitting prospect, to solidify a perceived weakness, the starting rotation was the first of two shrewd moves from the Yankees brass. The Montero-Pineda trade brought one of the top young pitchers to the Bronx to play in pinstripes for the next decade. His presence will be bolstered with the under-the-radar signing of the veteran, and former Dodger, Hiroki Kuroda.
Let's get this out of the way. The offense is very good. They were second in the league in runs scored at 5.35/game. The Yankees are going to score runs: there is not much analysis needed.
Where the Yankees are often perceived to struggle is the starting rotation. And I say perceived because the Yankees ranked 11th in MLB in ERA, and 7th in strikeouts. With Sabathia anchoring the staff, and Ivan Nova coming into his age 25 season after putting up some solid numbers last year, the top two spots are locked up. The Yankees also made a big splash to acquire the immensely talented Michael Pineda. He dominated early on in Seattle, but faded a bit down the stretch due to hitters making adjustments, and throwing the most innings of his career. He is still looking to make his way as an ace, but the Yankees offense makes a nice safety should he struggle some in his second major league season.
While the Pineda trade is clearly the better long term move, the savvier move for this season is the signing of Hiroki Kuroda. He doesn't walk a lot, strikes out more than average, and is exactly the type of guy that should thrive as a Yankee. He goes out there and makes the other team earn their runs, and then eventually the Yankees offense comes through at the end. I think he will have very solid win totals as a Yankee, though his stats may take a hit coming from the NL West. With the fifth spot, there is the Phil Hughes/Freddy Garcia combo, that has potential to be solid to possibly very good, should Hughes return to form. If not Garcia, pitched well enough last year, and kept the Yankees in the game to let the offense take over. The biggest perceived weakness of the Yankees the last few years has a lot of depth.
The relievers, headed by Rivera, has one current All-Star, David Robertson, and one former All-Star, Rafael Soriano. Soriano struggled in April, then was injured, but pitched solidly in August and September. They also have a lefty in Boone Logan who averaged over a K/inning in 2011. When the game is tight in the late innings, the Yankees have guys to keep the other team from scoring.
The Yankees have only won less than 93 games once in the past decade. With the Rays and Red Sox still very solid, and the buzz Toronto has been creating, I think this total is a little low, due to the perceived and real competition. The Yankees have the highest projected win total in the division, and you actually have to lay a little juice to bet on them to win the division (-125). Every team that has won the AL East since 2004 (which is as far back as I cared to look) has won more than 93 games, and the Yankees are the deserved favorite. I think the Yankees bolstered rotation gets them the division crown and more than 93 wins. And if Pineda quickly transforms into a bona fide ace in his second season, the Yankees could easily win over 100 games.
Final record - 103 - 59