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Offense Plus Defense

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Courtesy of Chris Dial of Baseball Think Factory comes interesting data ranking the best offensive and defensive players in the American League.

The Yankee lineup boasted 2 of the top 5, 5 of the top 25, and 6 of the top 30 two-way players in the American League.

How likely are the Super Six to repeat their seasons?

1. Derek Jeter- From 2006-2008 Derek Jeter completed a 3 year decline offensively, his OPS+ dropping from 132 to 121 to 102. His 2009 132 OPS+ then sure looks like a fluke. But knowing he played through injury in a lot of 2008 makes me hopeful that he's fall back closer to 121 than to 102. According to Fielding Runs Above Average, his defense has been more consistent: -11, -19, -9, -11.

2. Mark Teixeira- The Yankee most likely to repeat. His defense fell (just barely) negative this season according to the metrics, but he's been a plus defender for the previous 3 seasons. Unlike most 1B, who decrease the value of their bats with their inability to play the field, Tex doesn't need his offense to make up for his glove. And his offense has been incredibly consistent. His OPS+ has run 149, 152, 149.

3. Alex Rodriguez- Arod will turn 35 in July. He just hit .286/.402/.532, good for a 147 OPS+. Am I crazy to think he'll improve? I don't think so. He posted 150 OPS+ in 2008, not enough of a drop of to suggest decline. And his numbers improved starkly after Brian Cashman visited the team in Atlanta and laid down ground rules for Joe Girardi about when to play Arod and when to rest him. He started every game from May 8th to June 18th, hitting .212/.370/.462. After leaving Atlanta, Arod hit .318/.414/.564 for the rest of season. On the other hand, after his surgery, Arod's defense held steady according to both FRAA and UZR. Rebound.

4. Johnny Damon- I'm betting against any Johnny Rockets in the Bronx next season, but there seem to be so few suitors for the aging outfielder that he might regret passing on the Yanks' 2 year/ $14M offer. As for repeating 2009, impossible, but as with Jeter, I don't foresee as big a drop off as some suggest. Damon's offensive numbers have gone up each of the last 3 years, and playing LF/DH rather than CF seems to have helped him stay healthy. Defensive metrics like UZR need very large sample sizes to give accurate ratings- over the last 3 years he's played around 120 games to a 12 run positive UZR (2007 and 2008) and 130 games to a -12 run UZR. FRAA has Damon between 1 and 5 runs above average. I'm calling him a consistently average LF- good range with occasional bad routes and a noodle arm.

5. Jorge Posada- Not if, but how far. Ignore his injury plagued 2008 and check out his 2006-2009 OPS+: 122, 153, 133. I'll take 140 games at .275/.375/.500 from my catcher each and every year and be quite happy. The questions for Posada all revolve around defense and how often he'll really be behind the plate. He caught 28% of would be basestealers (in line with his 29% career average) and he faced 111 would be thieves (against an average of 122 in his 9 full seasons). While I don't think his defense has declined, I think Joe G.'s willingness to cave to his pitchers will take our All-Star catcher out of the lineup. Less playing time will mean less value for Posada.

6. Robinson Cano- Up, up and away! I hope. The narrative is that Robbie came to camp focused after being benched late in 2008. But as Robbie's BABIP goes, so goes Robbie. His .325 BABIP was back at his career average after a down 2008; so long as he maintains average luck, I'd bet he repeats 2009's numbers. Defensively, his numbers have been so all over the place throughout his career that I really don't know what to make of them. From what I've seen, he's got one of the strongest 2B arms in the game, decent range and a quick turn on the double play. I see no reason to think he'll decline defensively, so I'll predict equal to or greater than 2009.