We know that a number of Yankees didn’t meet their normal performance levels last year. Is that a sign of age, or is it just a fluke? If you listen to hitting instructor Kevin Long, it’s the latter. Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York got Long on record, and to say he’s confident is an overstatement. Here’s Matthews’s paraphrase:
One thing that stood out, however, is that despite the Yankees scoring an MLB-leading 859 runs (the Boston Red Sox, with 818, were a distant second) and 201 HRs, third-highest in the league, KLong believes seven of the nine regulars in the Yankee lineup can have better seasons in 2011.
The only exceptions are Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Long thinks that, given the standout nature of their performances, it wouldn’t be easy for them to “duplicate what they did last year.” Then the kicker: “But I expect the rest of them to do better.” Of course he thinks that; they’re his guys. But this is always nice to hear. It’s also a bit surprising in the case of Brett Gardner. If he tops last year we’ll all do a jig down River Avenue.