The Yankees Might Miss A-Rod Less Than You Think

A-Rod's power has been replaced by others

The Yankees finally get back to work on Thursday night and their lineup will be sporting a new look.

Home Run Derby champ Robinson Cano will be batting cleanup and Eduardo Nunez will be playing third as the team begins to live life without Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will miss four to six weeks after surgery to repair the injury.

This would seem to be a devastating blow to the lineup. A-Rod ranks seventh in the American League in Wins Above Replacement, third on the team in weighted on-base percentage and had the highest batting average on the team in the 30 days before the All-Star break.

That last stat is a bit misleading, however. A-Rod kept hitting over the last month, but his power all but disappeared after hurting his knee in June.

He managed just eight extra-base hits in that span and only one home run, numbers that were good enough to leave him with the seventh-best slugging percentage among players regularly in the lineup.

One of the players who outslugged him was Nunez, filling in for Derek Jeter while the captain dealt with his calf injury, which means that all is far from lost while A-Rod is missing from action.

That's not to say that life isn't better with Rodriguez doing his thing in the middle of the Yankee lineup. That seventh place spot in WAR didn't happen by accident and A-Rod remains a dangerous hitter when all is right with his body.

If that Rodriguez was the one they were replacing, we'd have reason to believe the Yankees were in trouble. With Cano, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada all in the lineup, power shouldn't be much of a problem.

The depth of the Yankee offensive attack reminds us that the team can really only panic about the loss of two players -- CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera -- during the 2011 season. No one wants to play without a regular piece of the lineup, but life without A-Rod's bat isn't all that bleak.

The biggest potential problem is that those hitters don't have anyone on base for them to drive in. If Derek Jeter's pre-break play was an indication of things to come, that won't be a tremendous problem, either.

What could be a problem is that Nunez hasn't yet shown an ability to avoid mistakes defensively that erode his offensive contributions. He has the most errors on the team, although most of them are at shortstop, while A-Rod has had an excellent season with the glove.

Even there the Yankees should be okay so long as Nunez doesn't get much worse. They swallowed his poor play at shortstop and came out of the stretch with a great record all the same.

This is a longer stretch, but it is one that the Yankees should be able to weather with the same kind of record.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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