Now that the Yankees have made it rain and solidified their 2014 roster, it’s time to determine where they stand. The 2013 Hal-Capped incarnation managed to win 85 games, but their negative run differential means they were probably about an 80 win team that got a little lucky in run distribution. To improve upon that performance and reclaim the back pages, they brought in four of the top ten free agents — Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka. Of course, they also lost this offseason’s premiere free agent Robinson Cano to the Mariners, the best closer of all-time Mariano Rivera to retirement, their 2nd-best pitcher Andy Pettitte also to retirement, center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Mets, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez to Bud Selig’s rapacious vengeance.

So where does this leave the team in terms of wins? To answer that, we embark on a series of articles comparing the production the Yankees got from each roster slot in 2013 to what they can expect from those slots in 2014. When we’re done, we’ll predict a big ol’ win number. Today, we’ll start today with the offense, going position by position (numbers in parentheses are 2013 wRC+ and Oliver’s Projected 2014 wRC+):

Catcher
2013: Chris Stewart/Austin Romine (58/48)
2014: Brian McCann/Francisco Cervelli (121/83)

We’re off to an exciting start. The Yankees will almost certainly see their biggest improvement come from their catchers’ bats. Chris Stewart lived up to his billing as one of the perennially worst hitters in baseball, and prospect Austin Romine was totally overwhelmed in his cup of coffee. It’s hard to believe that there were actually 4 MLB teams who received worse offensive production than this. That said, those numbers are just putrid.

McCann’s 110 wRC+ over the last three seasons is good for 9th-best among catchers ), and that’s despite an unlucky .261 BABIP and an injured shoulder in 2012 (87 wRC+). Expect a BABIP rebound, a return to health, and a short porch in right field to push his numbers close to his peak seasons.

Dark Helmet has shown signs of putting it together at the plate in spurts the last few seasons. He was working on a small sample-sized 143 wRC+ through 17 games last year when he was felled by a pitch that broke his hand. He was then suspended in connection the Biogenesis nonsense, so maybe it was just the roids. Expect Girardi to ride McCann for a good 130 games in either case.

First Base
2013: Lyle Overbay/Mark Reynolds (86/105)
2014: Mark Teixeira (106)

There are a couple of themes we’ll see repeated in this overall analysis. First, it can’t get much worse at this position than last year. Second, the projected rebound is a fragile one.

Overbay saw most of the action at first last year, before Reynolds stepped in to at least stop the bleeding. Their numbers look a lot better than the 2013 catching pair, but compared to others at their position it’s just as bad. Again, there were only 4 teams whose first basemen hit worse the Yankees 1B committee.

Oliver is bearish on Tex after a three-year decline that bottomed out in last year’s nightmare season: 58 wRC+ in a mere 15 games due to a wrist injury that resulted in surgery. Wrist injuries often lead to diminished power upon return, but Tex should have no problem besting this projection if he can stay healthy. Therein lies the rub. Teixeira did deal with a multitude of ailments in 2012, and he still managed 524 PAs. Before that, it was an almost unbroken string of health for 9 straight seasons. If the wrist holds up, the Yankees will see another big boost here. If not, there’s no fallback option.

Second Base
2013: Robinson Cano (142)
2014: Brendan Ryan/Kelly Johnson/Brian Roberts (57/97/74)

There’s no sugar coating this. The Yankees lost the best second basemen and one of the elite players in major league baseball. The team with the second-best keystone production (the Indians) were way back at a 127 wRC+.

Brendan Ryan is an elite defender, but this is an article about offense. He has none. Kelly Johnson is not a complete hack. He was an upper tier prospect for the Braves and had one great season with the Diamondbacks in 2010 (129 wRC+). However, the last three seasons have been disappointments, and you’re probably looking at a guy with average bat and meh defense. Roberts is a complete lotto ticket…if the jackpot was a few thousand dollars. He was an excellent second baseman in his prime, but that was five years ago. His paltry 77 games last season were his highest total since 2009. Second base is going to be U-G-L-Y.

Third Base
2013: Jayson Nix/ARod/David Adams/Kevin Youkilis (70, 113, 45, 78)
2014: Kelly Johnson/Scott Sizemore (97/105)

The good news is that it cannot get worse than 2013 at third base. ARod had only 181 PAs and everyone else was a below-replacement level offensive third baseman. In addition to the group above, the Yankees also ran out Luis Cruz, Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, and Alberto Gonzalez for 167 PAs. Their respective wRC+ numbers: 13, 37, 0, -7. As a group, Yankee third basemen were the worst hitters in the league at their position. Having an average third baseman would be a big boon for the club’s 2014 prospects.

The bad news is that average is probably a hopeful upside. Sizemore was a decent prospect for the Tigers and put up some real offense in the minors. Some of that offense finally translated to the big leagues in 2011 (109 wRC+). However, a torn ACL caused him to miss 2012, and then he re-tore it to doom his 2013. The Yankees can hope, but he’s 29-years old, so not a lot room for growth here. Kelly Johnson is probably first in line, but he may well be needed at 2B with the group of jokers they got over there. The ARod suspension hurts here. Despite his injuries and reputation, he’s still a much better hitter than the current menu of options.

With the Hal-Cap™ no longer in place and any sense of team likeability gone anyway, why not sign Stephen Drew, who’s open to playing multiple positions?

Shortstop
2013: Eduardo Nunez/Jayson Nix (83/70)
2014: Derek Jeter (84)/Brendan Ryan (57)

Much of the Yankees 2014 projection is crystallized in this position. They’ll surely improve here, just because of the sheer awfulness of their 2013 output. Nunez, Nix, Reid Brignac, Jeter, Cruz, Ryan, and Gonzalez all saw time at SS and all were offensively offensive. Collectively, they were the 3rd-worst group of hitting shortstops in baseball last year.

Once again, there’s some reason for optimism as The Captain prepares to return. Jeter can still rake against lefties. How much he has left in his overall offensive tank is a major question after a lost 2013 (48 wRC+ in 17 games), ankle surgery, and another passing year that will see him turn 40. You don’t count him out and you certainly take the over on Oliver’s projection. Also, Derek will surely need plenty of rest, and that means the aforementioned offensively-useless Brendan Ryan will see more PAs.

Left Field
2013: Vernon Wells/Alfonso Soriano/Zolio Almonte (70, 130, 55)
2014: Brett Michael Gardner (100)

Soriano came over from the Cubs and hit like a monster. He saved left field from being a complete and unqualified disaster for the Yankees. Still, because of their predictably catastrophic flirtation with Vernon Wells and the tragic cameo of Zolio Almonte, the Yankees finished 25th out of 30 teams in left field hitting.

Gardner doesn’t have very high upside with the bat, but he’s likely to be a bit above average and that’s a large improvement. He’s been the rare reliable and healthy player on this Yankee roster. But it’s not a perfect record, as elbow surgery cost him all but 16 games of the 2012 season. RUN BMG also derives value from his ability to steal bases, but he took a step back in 2013, only swiping 24 bags. This was a far cry from the near 50 bases he stole in each of 2010 & 2011. If he can come close to those totals, he will once again be in the upper echelon of overall player value.

Center Field
2013: Brett Gardner (108), Granderson (97)
2014: Jacoby Ellsbury (104)

Center field was a relative bright spot for the 2013 Yankee offense, ranking 9th in hitting for the position. Despite the $153 million contract, you can’t assume Ellsbury will be a huge boon with the bat. His career wRC+ (109) is basically what Gardner put up last year. Ellsbury does have great upside — he had one elite year (150 wRC+) in 2011 and was the 9th-best hitting CF last year (113 wRC+). He’s also lethal on the basepaths, and is arguably the best thief in the game — stealing 52 bases in 56 attempts in 2013 (93% success rate!!) Plus, he’ll fit in with his new teammates when the clubhouse convo turns to medical histories.

Right Field
2013: Ichiro Suzuki (71)
2014: Carlos Beltran (120)

For the record, NoMaas is strongly in favor of using Soriano in right and Beltran at DH. Soriano is the better fielder, and DHing would help preserve Beltran’s aged body. But we list Beltran here because he is expected to be Girardi’s choice at RF, and because it doesn’t make a difference for the offense analysis.

Not much to say about Ichiro. His contributions were responsible for the Yankees getting the very worst offensive production out of RF in Major League Baseball. He still makes for a decent defensive replacement and pinch hitter off the bench. He’s done as a hitter, and has been for some time.

Beltran is an immense offensive upgrade. Despite being on the cusp of 37 and sporting some seriously balky knees, he’s maintained incredible prowess with the bat. His walks did slip last year (6%), which is a concern, but he still raked to a 132 wRC+. He really, really should be the DH.

DH
2013: Travis Hafner/Alex Rodriguez/Ben Francisco (86/113/13)
2014: Alfonso Soriano (99)

And yet another category where the Yankees were dead last — no AL team’s group of DHs were worse than the Yankees in 2013 (87 wRC+). Soriano will beat the oddly low projection and will represent a sizeable gain. Soriano will likely have to be rotated into the outfield to spell other old players at various points in the season, but those players should also represent DH upgrades as well.

Overall, the biggest gains for the Yankee offense come not from the big dollar free agent signings, but from simple regression. They were so thoroughly awful at so many positions that just moving towards average at some of those positions will score more runs. In addition, there is potential for immense gains from several positions — catcher, 1B, SS, RF, DH. It’s also very exciting to think about Ellsbury & Gardner waging war on opposing battery mates. There is no doubt that the offense should be improved over 2013′s putrid edition.

Yet, there is significant risk, as the Yankees are playing with fire due to their dependency on old players and zero depth. If it all clicks, the offense should be worthy of the “Bronx Bombers” nickname — but, an injury or two could blow the whole thing up.