Going into 2011, it’s hard not to be confident about the Yankees’ outfield. All three players are above average in some aspect of the game at their worst, and they’re easily better than that anyway. Brett Gardner, though lacking in power, is a great on base guy and has fantastic range. Curtis Granderson can field well, take his walks, and hit the snot out of the ball. Nick Swisher doesn’t field as well as the other two do, but he also gets on base, also hits for power, and has shown the ability to make consistent contact. For what it’s worth, all three guys seem to be great clubhouse guys, too; I’m not sure how much, but that counts for something. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t questions about each guy.
Let’s start with Gardner in left. I’ve absolutely no doubts that he can handle the position and boost his value that way, but I do have not so much a question, but more a reservation. Brett showed in 2010 that he can be a productive hitter and work his way on base without much power. Can he do it again, though? I’m not saying he can’t, and I’m not saying he won’t. I’ll be incredibly pleased and not wholly surprised if he can approximate last year’s .358 wOBA.
Moving over to center, I’m concerned with Curtis Granderson‘s health. He missed time last year and is a bit banged up going into the season. I’m sure it’s something that can clear up, but oblique injuries are always tricky and seem to linger. Granderson is a guy who hits for power, and an oblique injury can be especially damning to that type of player. Perhaps more importantly, though, I’m asking myself whether or not he can show us what he did against lefties later in the season again. I hope that he can, and won’t be surprised if he does because of all the work put in, but it’s still a question worth asking. Was Curtis really #cured?
Nick Swisher presents his own set of questions. There’s no doubt he can be productive–hell, he’s been so every year of his career except for 2008. 2009 and 2010 were very similar for Swisher, though they were done differently. 2009 was more of the typical Swisher season–low average, high on base, high power–and 2010 was a bit different. Swisher hit for a higher average and similar power with a decreased walk rate. 2009 ended with a .375 wOBA for Swisher. 2010 saw him hit to a .377 wOBA. So, same destination, different path. My question is, then, what happens if he can’t hit for contact like he did last year? I presume he’ll be able to go back to his pre-2010 days, but will it come easily after changing his approach like he did in 2010? That’s a question I’ve had in the back of my head all offseason. What questions do you all have for the starting outfielders in 2011?
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