By Sweeny Murti
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Here are my five keys, in no particular order, to the Yankees winning it all in 2012:

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1—CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte:

What you saw from these two guys over the last two weeks of the season should make you feel good. There were legitimate and serious question marks about both of them at times this year, almost all of them health-related. But Sabathia threw the ball much better in his final three starts, and Pettitte showed you enough to believe that experience will get him through.

These are the Yankees’ two best weapons for any postseason series—Nos. 1 and 2 starting pitchers, with ability and experience.

2—Rafael Soriano and David Robertson:

Soriano has had a terrific year. But he is not Mariano Rivera. This is not an insult. But facts are facts. This goes beyond stats, but try this one on and see how it fits—Rivera has pitched 141 innings of postseason ball and given up two home runs. Soriano has pitched 7.2 postseason innings and given up three home runs.

This is where the Yankees separate themselves every single October. You can give the ball to Soriano and feel confident he will do the job. It’s not the same feeling. Robertson shares this burden too, as the Yankees try to prove true once again their single biggest advantage every postseason—protecting leads better than anyone else.

3—Mark Teixeira/Nick Swisher/Alex Rodriguez:

These are not October resumes to be proud of. Teixeira is 18-for-106 (.170 BA) as a Yankee in the postseason, including only 3-for-32 in his last two playoff series. Swisher is 17-for-104 (.163 BA), 6-for-41 with 12 strikeouts in his last two playoff series. Even after his huge 2009, A-Rod hasn’t shrugged off his postseason woes, just 6-for-39 (.154 BA) in his last two playoff series, and he has not hit a home run since the ‘09 World Series.

Beginning to remember why the Yankees lost to the Rangers in 2010 and the Tigers in 2011?

This team needs big hits from these guys and they need them now. Bad postseasons happen, and to many of the best players. But a good postseason, or just one that ends with a ring, will go a long way toward having them remembered fondly. It should only take one. Don’t believe me?

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Paul O’Neill hit a combined 10-for-58 (.172 BA) in four World Series (1990 with the Reds, ’96-’98-’99 with the Yankees) before going 9-for-19 (.474) in the 2000 World Series. Long live The Warrior.

4—Are the Yankees old — or experienced?

In every game the Yankees lost, they looked old and slow. In September, those old guys played with veteran savvy and experience.

So, which is it?

The Yankees have a lot of players with postseason experience. The upside to that is that they know, or should know, how to control their emotions in a big moment that might swallow up a less experienced player. The downside is that there’s a reason that Joe Girardi needed to give certain players so many days off this year.

The answer to this question will likely be based solely on the outcome of this postseason.

5—Robinson Cano:

His stretch drive was indescribable. He batted .615 over the final ninegames. At a time of year when season averages move at glacial speeds because of the accumulation of 500-600 ABs, Cano’s season average jumped 20 points in nine days (.293 to .313). Hot doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Now it has to continue. Cano is the perfect Yankee right now. He’s not too old, he’s not too young. At 29, he’s the Yankees’ best hitter. And he’s had two very good postseasons the last two years, hitting a combined 19-for-57 (.333) with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 14 playoff games. Is he ready to follow that up with an October that will make him a Yankee legend?

All of these will be major factors in whether the Yankees win or lose this October. The journey begins Sunday night.

Sweeny Murti

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