Two-thirds of the Yankees' projected 2013 lineup is over the hill. This should not come as news to anyone reading this; it's a simple fact of baseball's aging curve. Ichiro Suzuki is 39. Derek Jeter will turn 39 in June and Travis Hafner will turn 36. Kevin Youkilis will be 35 by Opening Day. Mark Teixeira will turn 33 in April and has seen his production decline each of the last four seasons. Maybe you can quibble over Curtis Granderson, but he'll turn 32 before St. Patrick's Day and took a big step back from his career year in 2011. Heck, even Robinson Cano has kissed his twenties goodbye, and by the end of August Brett Gardner will have done the same. Collectively, the best days of the 2013 Yankees are behind them. It makes one wonder when the best days of this lineup actually were. I don't mean as individuals, that's too easy, but as a group. As individuals, each of the top seven men in the projected Yankee batting order (all but Gardner and the replacement-level catcher) have had seasons in which they have finished in the top five in the MVP voting. If you could have the Yankees' 2013 lineup in any other year in history, which year would you choose so as to get maximum value? To get the answer, I used the offense-only version of Baseball-Reference's Wins Above Replacement, abbreviated oWAR and simply added up the yearly totals for the eight men guaranteed starting jobs. For seasons in which a player was not active, I simply entered zero, representing a replacement-level player. I did the same for the catcher position, which, going into the 2013 season, is the definition of replacement level, though in practice it could fall short of even that. With Youkilis and Granderson entering the league in 2004, the same year that Hafner first qualified for the batting title, and Cano arriving in 2005, I started my search in the 2004 season (Teixeira's second in the majors).
The 2013 New York Yankees Lineup: Optimized for 2007
Pinstriped Bible | Feb 19