The Middle/Corner Balance

For as long as I can remember, the Yankee offense has been built, in some way, on power; they don't call the team the Bronx Bombers for nothing. The Yankees are not and have not been unique in that way; every team tries to build around power. What has made the Yankees' power unique has been the source thereof. From Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have enjoyed getting top quality offense from the up-the-middle positions of catcher, shortstop, second base, and center field, positions that don't normally provide much power. It doesn't hurt that hitters like Tino Martinez, Mark Teixeira, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Nick Swisher provided power from the corner infield and outfield positions, where we expect it. As 2013 approaches, the offense from the up-the-middle positions will be as important as ever. The first place to look is in the outfield. By the time this is published, Ichiro Suzuki may be re-signed and ready for a return trip to right field in the Bronx. And, of course, Brett Gardner is set to reclaim his throne in left field. Obviously, neither guy has a ton of power; it's incredibly likely that the Yankee corner outfield spots will produce under 25 home runs combined. Both players, however, can make up for it with other skills. Both Gardner and Ichiro play stellar defense and can wreak havoc on the bases, while Gardner has a great batting eye and Ichiro's contact skills are almost unparalleled. Still, having such little to no pop in two of three corner outfield spots is never desirable. Compounding this problem is the fact that A-Rod will be out for an extended period of time. Kevin Youkilis will likely fill in ably, but power is not his calling card. Teixeira is always reliable for power, but with three of four corner spots in question regarding high-level offense it's all the more important for Granderson, Jeter, and Cano to keep up their top-tier hitting to help balance out the team. Oh and let's not forget that the Yankees don't exactly have a DH or a catcher right now.