The Yankees: The Most Underrated Team in Baseball

In my regular Wednesday chat this week, this question popped up:

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.18.27 AM

Interestingly, a few days before, I’d been thinking about the narrative of the Yankees heading into 2016, and how so much of it is being driven by their lack of free agent spending this winter. It’s almost historically unprecedented for the Yankees to sit out an entire free agent class, but this winter, the team decided to make their upgrades through the trade market instead, and thus have not signed a single player to a major league contract this off-season. With the Red Sox stocking up for another run, the Blue Jays likely to still be a force, and the Rays and Orioles doing enough to keep themselves around .500, the Yankees are in the unusual position of being something of an afterthought in the AL East.

Thus, we get questions like this one from Christian, asking for some hope that his team might contend in 2016. Well, fear not, Christian; not only do I think there are reasons to think the Yankees are legitimate contenders, I think they might actually be the most underrated team in baseball heading into the season.

Let’s start with the obvious; the Yankees were contenders last year, so it’s not like they’re trying to bridge some kind of big gap that the 2015 team couldn’t overcome. The Bronx Bombers won 87 games a year ago, and it wasn’t a sequencing-aided fluke; they were an 87 win team by BaseRuns as well. That they made the Wild Card game wasn’t some kind of happy accident.

Now, you don’t want to just take last year’s results, add in the performances of the new guys, and call that a 2016 projection; that isn’t how life works. The team added Aroldis Chapman, for instance, but their overall bullpen performance probably won’t be substantially better, since the guys who are coming back should be expected to perform a bit worse, and Chapman’s essentially replacing Justin Wilson, who was tremendous in 2015. Likewise, Starlin Castro should be an upgrade over what the team got from their second baseman a year ago, but they also have to account for the fact that they probably won’t get the same level of production from first base or designated hitter again.

But even with expected regression from the returning veterans, I still see a pretty good amount of upside on this roster, especially on the pitching side of things.

A year ago, the Yankees run prevention could best be described as okay. Their 99 ERA- ranked squarely in the middle of the pack, ranking 15th best in baseball, but those average results were mostly driven by an anomalous home run problem. A year ago, 13.6% of the fly balls the Yankees allowed ended up going over the fence, the highest ratio of any team in baseball. Sure, some of that is just the nature of the ballpark they play in, but HR/FB ratio is also one of the least consistent year-to-year variables for a pitcher, even ones who throw half their games in a park that inflates home run rates.

By xFIP-, which normalizes their home run rate, the Yankees pitching staff actually ranked 4th in baseball in 2015 with a mark of 91, suggesting that based on their walks, strikeouts, and ground ball rates, they should have had an above average run prevention unit. If that had been the case, combined with the team’s strong offense, they’d have won 90+ games pretty easily, and we probably wouldn’t be questioning whether or not the 2016 Yankees could contend with mostly the same roster.

Of course, there are reasons to think that perhaps the Yankees have just assembled a rotation full of guys who aren’t as good as xFIP thinks. Since the start of the 2012 season, CC Sabathia has thrown over 600 innings and has a 14.6% HR/FB ratio over that time; it seems pretty clear that the regression in his stuff has made it easier for hitters to square up his mistakes, and he probably shouldn’t be expected to post league-average HR/FB rates in 2016.

Likewise, the Yankees were able to acquire Nathan Eovaldi from the Marlins because of his history of allowing hard contact, and while he probably won’t give up a .337 BABIP again, his career mark is .316 in over 600 innings pitched, so he’s probably not going to regress back to the league average rates of hits on balls in play. And while Michael Pineda‘s track record is shorter, he’s pitched much better with the bases empty than with runners on, so it’s possible that he’s part of the Javier Vazquez family of pitchers, guys who simply don’t squash rallies as well as you’d expect based on how they do in low-pressure situations.

But historically, it’s probably more correct to expect one of these issues to repeat themselves again in 2016, not all three. And when we look at teams who have posted an eight point gap between their ERA- and xFIP- in one year, we see that it mostly goes away the next year. Here are the other teams since 2002 who also underperformed their xFIP- by eight points, and then what the gap was in the following season.

Yankee-Like Pitching Staffs Since 2002
Team Season ERA- xFIP- Next ERA- Next xFIP-
Astros 2007 107 99 104 98
Dodgers 2010 105 97 98 97
Indians 2004 107 99 84 92
Marlins 2007 112 104 103 102
Mets 2011 113 105 110 103
Rangers 2008 119 111 93 102
Reds 2007 108 100 103 97
Twins 2012 116 108 113 108
Average 111 103 101 100

The 2012 Mets basically repeated their gap between ERA- and xFIP-, and the 2013 Twins and 2008 Astros didn’t improve by much, but the overall trend is clear; the team’s next-season ERA was almost a perfect match for their xFIP, as the overall group didn’t show a strong tendency to continue to underperform their expected results. This isn’t any kind of shocking discovery, as it’s been known for a while that single-season ERA isn’t a particularly good predictor of future ERA, but it’s good to remember that we shouldn’t just look at the Yankees 2015 home run problem and decide that it’s an inherent issue that is likely to carry over to 2016.

The Yankees have a rotation of pitchers whose peripherals suggest that they’re actually pretty good, even if the results weren’t there a year ago. There are clear health risks throughout the group, and it doesn’t do the team any good to bet on positive regression if Pineda and Tanaka just end up on the DL, as is certainly possible. But if they can keep their starting pitchers reasonably healthy, the Yankees probably have something like a league average rotation, and they inarguably have the best bullpen in baseball; this is a pitching staff that could end up being one of the best in baseball, even without a traditional ace.

Beyond the health of the pitchers, the question will be how much of their strong offense can repeat in 2016. Mark Teixeira and A-Rod will likely hit worse, and now they won’t have Greg Bird around to pick up the slack, so there are legitimate concerns about whether the offense might regress more than the pitching staff improves. But the Yankees were second in baseball in run scoring a year ago, so there’s some room to fall while still being a strong enough offensive club to contend. They probably won’t be the offensive juggernaut they were a year ago, but with a pitching staff that could make significant gains in 2016, even just an above-average offense should be enough to get them into the Wild Card range.

The Yankees might have had a pretty boring off-season, but there are plenty of reasons to think that they remain one of the better clubs in the American League, just like they were a year ago. They’re not an elite team, but in a league lacking any elite teams, they have nearly as good a shot at the World Series as anyone else.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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scooter262
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scooter262
3 months 17 days ago

Dave, you said they could have been one of the two wild card teams. In fact, they were.

snapper
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snapper
3 months 17 days ago

That’s how under-rated they are.

The guy saying they’re under-rated, under-rates them.

The Ghost of Stephen Drews Bat
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The Ghost of Stephen Drews Bat
3 months 17 days ago

Your last paragraph really resonates with the exact same feeling I have with the Yankees next season: pitching may positively regress but there is no way I can see the offense replicate even close to their 2015 production.

However, I believe a large part of the success of the Yankees offense depends on Ellsbury. From May to July (around when Ellsbury got hurt) the Yanks offense was rocking. With Ells and Gardner getting on base in the early innings, this gave the Yanks more opportunities to score.

If Ells can get back to that level, then the Yanks offense may stay in the upper tier of offensive productions. If not, the Bronx Bombers will not be pretty.

tz
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tz
3 months 17 days ago

Here’s something for Christian – note the last time the Yankees had a 26-year-old second baseman coming off a replacement-level season:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3269&position=2B

ice_hawk10
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ice_hawk10
3 months 17 days ago

a team to be respected for sure. it’s just hard to see them remaining healthy enough or staving off regression enough to challenge for the division (unless the Jays or Red Sox fall apart).

Richie
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Richie
3 months 17 days ago

I thought the point of the article was that regression figures to be their friend this year?

ice_hawk10
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ice_hawk10
3 months 17 days ago

i think the gist was positive regression on the pitching end, which may be kinda moot if they can’t stay healthy. the offense will almost certainly negatively regress.

Joeys Bat Flip
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Joeys Bat Flip
3 months 17 days ago

Regression towards the mean and regression due to age are two different things entirely.

London Yank
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London Yank
3 months 17 days ago

Don’t the Redsox have to fall together before they can fall apart?

Twitchy
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Twitchy
3 months 17 days ago

Yeah they’re underrated, but still the third best team in the division. But relative to the rest of the AL they are still good.

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
3 months 17 days ago

I don’t think Price is anywhere near enough to turn the Sox into the second best team in the division.

The current Depth Charts have them 3 WAR above the Yankees, while projecting 4 WAR improvements from both Sandoval and Hanley, along with a full season of league average offense from Bradley.

redsoxu571
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redsoxu571
3 months 17 days ago

I know you’re a troll, but how dumb do you have to be to pretend that people who see good things for Boston are viewing it as “Price is going to turn it around!”?

Boston is likely (not guaranteed) to compete for/win the division because:
1) It added Price, AND Kimbrel, AND Smith, AND Young, whiling losing nobody of significance outside of Miley (and he was replaced just fine)
2) Baseball isn’t static, so it isn’t as if you just take the players as they were last season and adjust for the comings and goings

That’s why the smart people projected good things from the team for 2013 while the shallow ones figured a rebound was impossible…a lot went wrong in 2012 that likely wasn’t going to stay that way.

Also, a 4 WAR improvement from Sandoval and Ramirez would be EASY, given how bad they were last season.

Also, the projections that currently see improvements from them also currently see regressions from Bradley, Swihart, and Bogaerts (and even production from Betts). All four of those players were MUCH better in the second half of the season last year. Due the math…when very young players improve as the season goes along, they likely will continue to improve. While that won’t hold true for all of them, whatever shortcomings Ramirez or Sandoval continue to suffer will likely be made up for and then some when someone such as, say, Swihart, ends up being significantly better than projected right now.

Only glove, no love
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Only glove, no love
3 months 16 days ago

That dude isn’t a troll.

Sean C
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3 months 16 days ago

You are DEFINITELY not a troll.

That said, why is it insane to expect 4 WAR improvements from those two? Even if they are replacement level, they are 2 WAR improvements. At the very least, Hanley wont have the same leash.

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
3 months 14 days ago

I expect them to combine to be 5 WAR better than last year, not 8.

My biggest issue is that Panda is projected to put up his highest ISO since 2012, when his power has declined each year since 2011.

Spudchukar
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Spudchukar
3 months 17 days ago

So let’s see, if a team outperforms their projections they are a fluke. Perhaps it is the sequencing that is the fluke.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
3 months 17 days ago

Exactly, yes. That IS the point.

Spudchukar
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Spudchukar
3 months 17 days ago

That is crazy talk. One can say, that WE consider it a fluke. But one cannot state it IS a fluke.

Luy
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Luy
3 months 17 days ago

One can also say that one considers it not to be a fluke. But one cannot state that it is not a fluke.

Stating your opinion first doesn’t make it the default ‘true’ opinion, which reigns supreme until someone disproves. You have to prove your assertions, just like the people you disagree with.

So…what proof do you have that certain teams wait to get all their hits at the same time?

Spudchukar
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Spudchukar
3 months 17 days ago

Not playing your straw man game. Exceeding projections have many, many reasons, only one is luck. Often times players and teams outperform their statistical projections. To suggest that any outlier is a result of solely to randomness is ignorant. What should happen is a new analysis of the rationale for their success or failure. To simply suggest that if an outcome defies a chosen model and can simply be sloughed off is inane. It is the classic example of the ostrich with its head in the sand.

Only glove, no love
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Only glove, no love
3 months 16 days ago

It is fangraphs idiosyncratic definition of luck: luck = what our measurements can’t measure. It’s just a black box.

There are also undercurrents of the socially awkward’s preference for player fungibility and performance in isolation over a richer understanding of group dynamics and synergy.

Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
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Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
3 months 16 days ago

It is typical fangraphs happiness: happiness = what we measure cannot be measured. It’s just a black box.

Worked at the station social advantage for the players and show fungibiliti separately for a better understanding of Group dynamics and interaction.

Yanks123
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Yanks123
3 months 17 days ago

Pineda might be one of the most underrated pitchers IMO. Elite walk rate, pretty good K rate, and started to become a GB pitcher last season. Has a quality slider, improving changeup that shows flashes of being pretty good, and above average velocity. Had a great ERA, BABIP, and LOB% in his short 2014 so 2015 came out of no where and it’s possible he tired out. Injuries are the only thing holding him back.

asreitz
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asreitz
3 months 17 days ago

Injuries…that’s a big if for someone like Pineda.

domxbomb
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domxbomb
3 months 16 days ago

yeah I was surprised to read the Pineda might be Javy Vazquez can’t pitch with runners on comment. I understand we can’t disregard all situational context for pitchers the way we do for hitters because of pitching from the stretch, high stress pitches, etc, but at the end of the day the guy getting hitters out with no one in scoring position is still the same guy pitching with runners on. We can’t expect Pineda to allow a .350/.420/.520 (guessing from memory lol) batting line with RISP again

Richie
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Richie
3 months 17 days ago

And of course there’s their ability to take on salary whenever circumstances so warrant.

Sliver57
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Sliver57
3 months 17 days ago

Referencing Javier Vazquez in an otherwise-positive Yankees review, nice. I see what you did there.

4cornersfan
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4cornersfan
3 months 17 days ago

Yes, I also thought that was a stab in the back. Mentioning Vasquez in any context involving the Yankees should be avoided in order to prevent self-inflicted injuries to Yankee fans by things such as slapping the forehead and grinding teeth.

Sean C
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3 months 16 days ago

Yes. Poor Yankees fans. How miserable it must have been to have experienced a lousy player.

tz
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tz
3 months 16 days ago

I was going to make a wisecrack about poor Yankee fans feeling like they were the only ones left flat by the Javy Vazquez experience. My bad – I forgot just how much WORSE he was with the Yankees.

How bad?

Best FIP- this century (min 2,000 IP):

#10 Javier Vazquez: 85 FIP- (between Hamels and Peavy)

Best FIP- this century when not pitching for the Yankees(min 2,000 IP):

#3 Javier Vazquez: 80 FIP- (between Felix and Greinke)

RoyalsFan#14321
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RoyalsFan#14321
3 months 16 days ago

So hey. I stopped grinding my teeth on Willie Bloomquist like 5 years ago.

London Yank
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London Yank
3 months 17 days ago

Eovaldi really seemed to turn the corner last year before the injury cut short his season. He is my breakout sleeper pick. Elite velocity and an improving k-rate because of the added splitter.

4cornersfan
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4cornersfan
3 months 17 days ago

FYI, here are his stats after that disastrous game on June 16 when he gave up 8 ER in less than an inning: W/L 9-1; ERA 3.43; WHIP 1.29; 84 innings pitched, 78 hits, 78 Strikeouts. That’s after he started to feature the changeup.

domxbomb
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domxbomb
3 months 16 days ago

certainly a cherry pick but absolutely, he looked really good after throwing the split change more. the yanks saw a guy with stuff you can’t teach and then taught him some stuff you can teach

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
3 months 14 days ago

Luckily, it’s not even that much of a cherry pick because it corresponds nearly perfectly with when he started using the splitter.

London Yank
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London Yank
3 months 17 days ago

Also worth noting is that the Yankees are expected to get a full season out of Luis Severino, which could be a pretty big upgrade over many of the arms they were giving starts to last year. A rotation of Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi, Severino, Sabathia/Nova is not bad. It is also a very young rotation.

Brians Sticky Sock
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Brians Sticky Sock
3 months 17 days ago

“very young” Come again? Tanaka and Pineda are 27, Eovaldi is 25, Severino is 21, Sabathia is 35, and Nova is 29. I agree that their average age of 27 is “young for the Yankees”, but “very young” is a bit of an overstatement.

4cornersfan
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4cornersfan
3 months 17 days ago

Since a ballplayer’s prime years generally come between the ages of 27-33, I would say that 27 is young enough for any team.

Brians Sticky Sock
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Brians Sticky Sock
3 months 17 days ago

Yes “young” but still not “very young”.

Severino is very young.

Eovaldi is young.

Pineda and Tanaka are peaking.

Nova is getting close to decline years.

Sabathia is declining.

ice_hawk10
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ice_hawk10
3 months 16 days ago

prime is more like 25-29

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
3 months 16 days ago

Prime is 25-29 and that’s based on a heavy dose of rood era. Newer data shows deterioration starts almost immediately. They are not young.

London Yank
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London Yank
3 months 17 days ago

Who among competitive teams has younger pitching? I can’t find a convenient way to get at the data, but the Redsox, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants, Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Nationals, Rangers and Royals all appear to be older.

The Mets are famously young right now. Their top four by projected innings are 26, 27, 23, 42 (compared to the Yankees 27, 27, 25, 21).

They aren’t just “young for the Yankees”.

Brians Sticky Sock
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Brians Sticky Sock
3 months 17 days ago

I apologize for being overly tedious… I’m arguing about using the word “very”… that is all. It’s semantics. I’m not arguing their youth.

Shirtless Bartolo Colon
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3 months 16 days ago

Man I really am like two Severinos!

rosen380
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rosen380
3 months 16 days ago

Granted includes RPs, but last year the weighted average age for pitchers by team:

ATL 26.6
TBR 26.7
ARI 27.1
MIA 27.3
CLE 27.3
CIN 27.3

PIT 29.6
KCR 30.0
SFG 31.5

For a whole staff, 27 would be very young.

Brians Sticky Sock
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Brians Sticky Sock
3 months 16 days ago

I guess it’s hard to argue with numbers :)

Jason B
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Jason B
3 months 17 days ago

Looking at teams whose pitching staffs’ ERA- was exactly eight points above their xFIP- may be putting too fine a point on it and leaves you with only eight data points. If you expanded that out to include teams whose staffs’ ERA- was 7-9 points below their xFIP- you would have a more robust sample; what do those results look like?

Ernie Camacho
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Ernie Camacho
3 months 17 days ago

Without some kind of poll or collection of pundit predictions, I don’t see how Dave can declare any team the “most underrated.” And in any case, I doubt a team that actually made the post season would be that team. Better candidates: teams that under-achieved last year, didn’t make big changes, but look like contenders this year, like the Nationals and Indians.

But yes, the Yankees look to be pretty good once again.

Tom Dooley
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Tom Dooley
3 months 17 days ago

I agree with pretty much everything said here. They’re a good team and their front office has performed well with a large but limited budget.

Still, I think NYY fans would be right to be dissatisfied with ownership the last few years. As much as the rest of us might dislike the Yankees disproportionate spending power, they *do* have that power and they’d be fools not to use that advantage for as long as the rules permit. (Not fools, though, actually, because they just keep the money they don’t spend. Arguably, that’s smart.)

The massive revenue is there no matter what. It’s just a question of whether they spend it on the team or they keep it. If I’m a fan of that team, listening to them talk about the pinching pennies would just annoy the hell out of me. They *should* be spending crazy money on the best talent available at every turn. They *should* be annoying the rest of baseball (other than maybe LAD) with how much they can spend and how much talent they can hoard.

I’m not saying this would be best for baseball. I’m not a Yankees fan, so I’m quite pleased by their restraint. But if I rooted for NYY, I’d be singing a different tune.

4cornersfan
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4cornersfan
3 months 17 days ago

Hang down your head, Tom, you are forgetting that the rules have changed on free agency. For one thing, with the big TV deals and revenue sharing every owner has money to spend, that’s why you see the ridiculous amounts paid to Cano and others, for another, teams are locking up their stars for their prime years so you don’t see many 28 year-old players on the FA market anymore, and if you want an older player you have to anticipate paying him buckets of money when he is 36 and older. Add the qualifying offer scheme where you lose your 1st round draft pick and free agency gets too expensive. That’s why the Yankees are spending big bucks on their scouting and minor league players and infrastructure, and explains their recent foray into the international market where they spent a lot of money on 16 and 17 year-old prospects. When the game changes you have to change with it or eat dust.

Tom Dooley
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Tom Dooley
3 months 17 days ago

free agency gets too expensive

Not for the Yankees; that was my whole point. They can very much afford to blow the rest of the market away. And if they were doing this and winning divisions year in and year out, the late-round draft picks sacrificed would be a very small price to pay.

At the end of your comment you suggest they would have “eaten dust” if they didn’t stop spending so much. I don’t see how that’s realistic at all.

yankee808
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yankee808
3 months 17 days ago

Listen up Tom Dooley…I’m singing in tune with Sinatra’s voice with the way they’ve handled their spending. Sure they’ve got all the money in the world, but it’s refreshing to see that Cash and co. didn’t deal out a 200million dollar contracts to David Price (who will turn into CC (just without the weight–or alcoholism) halfway through his contract). I like the direction they are headed, and with beltran, tex, arod, and cc coming off the books in the next two years…they’ll be paying up plenty of $$$ to Harper and others ;)

Tom Dooley
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Tom Dooley
3 months 17 days ago

Are you suggesting you’d have been better off without CC? I don’t think you’d undo 2009.

And I’m not saying you’re wrong to be happy with your team. They’re good. But it’s a fact that they are spending a lot less than what they are capable of and you, the fan, do not benefit from that.

While it’s far from guaranteed that they’d have another run like that of the late 90s, I expect you’d prefer that to what they have now.

domxbomb
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domxbomb
3 months 16 days ago

for sure, we can talk all day about how wise it is to abstain from giving out 7 year FA pitching contracts, but the yankees have the luxury of signing the next guy when their current star starts sucking. CC gave them some great years, when he’s no longer an ace you buy David Price, when Price is no longer an ace you buy the next available lefty stud.

this team’s valuation increases by hundreds of millions of dollars every couple years

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
3 months 16 days ago

I thin the NYY want an open checkbook for the insane Harper/Machado/Fernandez/Harvey/Donaldson free agency class.

AutomatedTeller
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AutomatedTeller
3 months 17 days ago

I dunno – I don’t think they are underrated. I think most fans look at a team with ARod, Teixeira and Beltran and wonder if they have another healthy year in them. They look at the rotation and wonder if they will ever be healthy at all. The pen is awesome and Girardi probably deserves more credit than he gets and Starlin Castro could well become the new Robinson Cano, but, to me, it’s hard to see this as a playoff team.

sturock
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sturock
3 months 17 days ago

A lot of Yankee fans and, more likely, the “Yankee media”– beat writers and ESPN New York guys who cover the team– are moaning and kvetching because the Mets are more exciting right now. All of a sudden the Yankee beat is an afterthought for the NY sports hack who used to think he was a Very Important Person in This Town.

The reality is that Cashman wisely sat out this free-agent off-season and will let the bad contracts expire before he starts building the next great Yankee team.

jpg
Member
jpg
3 months 17 days ago

“The reality is that Cashman wisely sat out this free-agent off-season and will let the bad contracts expire before he starts building the next great Yankee team.”

I couldn’t disagree more. It wasn’t wise. Frankly it’s stupid. This year’s free agent class was loaded. Next year’s free agent class, particularly the outfield and starting pitchers, will be weak. And those happen to be the two spots that the Yankees will likely need to upgrade. While guys like Beltran, Tex, A-Rod and Sabathia are making a lot of money, the Yankees have the financial wherewithal to relegate those guys to reduced roles in favor of better, younger and healthier players. What sense does it make to wait until those guys come off the books only to have a shit ton of money with nobody to spend it on? Sure the 2017-2018 free agent class figures to be loaded again but who knows exactly what the team’s needs will be by then. This was a good team last year and could be a good team this coming year. They could have been a favorite if they didn’t punt free agency this year.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
3 months 16 days ago

Don’t they have decent OF, 1B, C, and SP prospects though? That’s your bridge to a Harper, Machado, Fernandez mega off season.

mike sixel
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mike sixel
3 months 17 days ago

You left off the acquisition of the most awesome Aaron Hicks

/s

Paul22
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Paul22
3 months 17 days ago

I was scratching my head wondering when the punch line was coming. It never came. Dave just loves teams who don’t spend money so this is their reward. Good doggie, good boy.

He mentions there are concerns about health and the need for the rotation to stay healthy, but the opening day rotation last year only missed 20 starts due to injury. If anything, regression will mean they will lose many more starts due to injury this year and their SP depth is dismal.

He says they improved at 2B, yet Castro is not as good defensively as Drew and had a wRC+ of 80 vs Drews wRC+ of 76. Not much of an upgrade unless Castro bounces back, which may happen, or may not.

Beltran and Arod will be 1 year older (39 and 40) and neither spent a day on the DL last year and were the teams 2 best hitters, after Teixeira who is no spirng pully himself is coming off a broken leg and has not been healthy for a full year since 2011. Defensively Beltran was not much better in RF than Hanley Ramirez in LF according to DRS (-14 runs vs -19 runs)

Chapman is a great BP talent, no doubt, but even at his best he is unlikely to be much more than 1 WAR better than Wilson was last year. Wilson outperformed his true talent, no doubt, but the Yankees had a great bullpen last year (don’t forget Shreves great first 4 months either), league average SP, the 2nd best offense in baseball (at least during the first 4 months), and still managed to win only 87 games.

Lets also not forget the propensity of players like Brett Gardner to leave their game behind in the first half, and Arods and McCanns late season dive last year. They have a few guys who could do with less playing time to stay strong, and more playing time for perennial disappointments like Hicks and Ackley is likely going to be a downgrade. Sanchez will be a rookie and its unknown how he responds to MLB pitching to start.

So the only way one who could consider this team underrated is polyannas who expect everything to go right, which it does from time to time (eg 2013 Red Sox) . However, FG own mathematical projection system has them as a 85 W team. Using the standard error of 6 wins means there is a 66% chance of winning 79-91 games, and 95% chance they win 73-97 W. More or less than that requires exceptional luck, good or bad

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
3 months 17 days ago

So you’re another nincompoop who subscribes to the “everything went right for Boston is 2013”, eh?

Like Buchholz missing half the season. Like Boston losing its closer for almost the entire year. Like Boston losing its BACKUP closer soon after that. Bard failing to repair himself! Dempster being garbage! Ellsbury getting dinged up again! Middlebrooks spitting the bit after a really good rookie season! Ortiz losing 67 OPS points!

So let me get this straight: because Nava had an unexpected emergence, because the bench was stronger than expected, because Buchholz pitched great when he did play, and because…umm…Victorino rebounded?…everything went right?

That’s the funny thing about the 2013 Red Sox…some things unexpectedly went right, sure…but A LOT more went wrong than right. The roster was just well-constructed, the depth was great, and the baseline talent level was a lot better to begin with than 2012 made it appear to be. Keep insisting that “everything went right” though just because the media kept insisting that it was so, though! Makes you sound really smart!

Joey Butts
Member
Joey Butts
3 months 16 days ago

Jeez, just be happy that the stars aligned and God smiled upon Fenway. You know damn well that it there was more to it than just that. Stephen Drew had a very nice year, his second-best, even though he was below replacement-level the year before and ever since. Jarrod Saltalamacchia(!) put up 3.5 WAR, a career-high. Koji Uehara had a great year, also a career best, to keep the bullpen in the top half of baseball. The team had historically good BABIP luck.

The Red Sox were, at best, mediocre every other year from 2012-2015. Trying to claim that things didn’t go unusually smoothly is a bit unrealistic.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 16 days ago

Yup, pretty much everything went right for the Red Sox in 2013, which is a bit different than everything went right. Their BABIP was the highest of any team since 1930. Every single FA outperformed expectations except perhaps Dempster. Many of them were coming off poor years so were cheap. Drew, Napoli, Victorino, Koji, Gomes. Ellsbury stayed healthy. Salty had a contract year.

Yeah, Buchholz injury hurt. WMB had a bad year but then Iglesias worked some BABIP magic. David Ortiz had a drop off from 2012, except for 1 thing, he was healthy all year. He had the highest OPS+ over a full season since 2007 at age 37 despite concerns his achilles would hamper him after 2012.

Lesters returning to vintage Lester the last 2 months of the season, Lackeys return from TJS was better than anyone expected, and Dempster actually started off pretty well.

DCE
Member
DCE
3 months 16 days ago

“but A LOT more went wrong than right”

You don’t honestly believe this do you? No objective, rational person would agree with that statement

Damaso
Member
Damaso
3 months 17 days ago

One of the great mysteries in baseball the last few years, imo, is how the Yankees could continually match the Red Sox in projections, and beat them by a longshot on the field – WITH A SIMILAR AGED ROSTER TO BOOT – and yet every year the general consensus says the Yanks are no good while the Red Sox are elite contenders.

It’s been truly bizarre to see.

So thank you for this article, Dave.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
3 months 17 days ago

That’s because we’ve read your shtick before, and you keep referring to age numbers that don’t account at all for projected playing time or the weight of importance of players on each team. Adjusted for role and expected production, the Yankees have been (and continue to be) much older than the Red Sox…and so I’d hate to break it to you, but your mystery doesn’t actually exist.

Also, the Yankees have been constructed in recent seasons in a way that things could have easily collapsed, and yet luck has worked out their way every season. That’s good for them, but still incredibly risky. Boston hasn’t has as much risk, but the downside has come to bear more often. If you’re the kind of fool who thinks that a poker player should play differently because he gets beaten on the river a few times despite 80%+ chances of winning, you then change your approach and start to give the Yankees the benefit of the doubt.

If, however, you understand how probabilities and life works, you stick with the process that best stacks the odds in your favor, and trust that in the long run things will work out.

Boston has had plenty work out for it the past couple of decades. New York has too – though returns have been diminishing – though on top of that the roster is finally being turned over and an elimination of some of the worst risks is finally on the horizon.

Damaso
Member
Damaso
3 months 16 days ago

my “schtick” led to correct predictions, yours led to embarassment.

save the lectures for when you are actually right about something.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
3 months 17 days ago

There is a bit of an oversight here. The Yankees of the past few seasons have gone into the season with a team full of potential downside, and yet have made “good” (aka had it go wrong) on that downside far less often than league average. Typically, more has gone right than reasonably should have.

2015 may have been the strongest example so far. Some things went “wrong”, but that was a lock. Far less went wrong that should have though, so whatever the numbers and metrics say, the Yankee likely baseline was worse than what occurred.

The 2016 Yankees aren’t underrated because people understand the myriad risks the team has rostered, and if the team has even an average rate of making “good” on those risks, it will be a mediocre (or worse) team. And if the team finally suffers below average in that luck arena, it would then finally see a collapse season that its past roster-building sins would merit.

Given that the team is starting to emerge from those same sins, and given some of the promising young pieces on the horizon, I don’t think these dark clouds will linger much longer. But the Yankees certainly deserve to have the **** hit the fan at least once before that comes to pass, and this season has the makings of that. The bullpen might help sequencing enough to avoid a terrible year, but it could easily be clearly out of the race by the AS break.

Yanks123
Member
Yanks123
3 months 17 days ago

This has the feel of those yearly “the Yankees are due to collapse any minute now” comments. You can point to the question marks of pretty much any AL team and argue they’ll be out of it if things don’t go right. The past doesn’t influence the present and the Yankees have plenty of position player depth right now with a great pen so I think they’re a team with a pretty decent floor.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
3 months 16 days ago

I didn’t say they were “due to collapse”. Did you actually read what I wrong.

I said that the team has been a risk minefield in recent seasons, and yet have managed to avoid having too many of those risks not work out. That’s great for them. It also doesn’t mean that the team was doing things the right way.

And so you actually have it backward. The only way you can ignore the Yankee risks is to actually think that past influences the present, and so the Yankees have a magical ability to beat the odds. Here is the reality:
1) The Yankees don’t have a magic ability to beat the odds
2) THEY STILL MIGHT

That’s baseball, Susan. But just because you can point to every team having questions marks doesn’t mean that they all have EQUAL question marks. And I agreed with you that their floor isn’t too bad given the bullpen.

The fact is, the reason the Yankees are full of risks is because they have too many aging or injury-risk talented players they have no choice but to rely on. BUT, with those risks comes upside. Teixeira still has lots of baseball ability. Tanaka still has a great arm. Etc. So when the risks fall in their favor, they reap larger benefits than when that happens for other teams.

It might happen again this year (I’m saying no). It might lead to collapse (I doubt it). But the Yankees have, in recent years, even avoided having enough go wrong to be truly out of contention early. For them, that would be the risks coming to roost, and I could see that being the outcome this year.

CliffH
Member
CliffH
3 months 16 days ago

Tanaka’s not old so I guess you think he is an injury risk, because you are a magician? The doctors say his elbow is fine but you know better!

Brians Sticky Sock
Member
Brians Sticky Sock
3 months 16 days ago

http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/masahiro-tanaka-not-sure-if-he-ll-be-ready-for-yankees-opening-day-1.11464890

I mean, he made only 24 starts last year with a list of ailments.

Sounds like you’re the one who knows better…

Joey Butts
Member
Joey Butts
3 months 16 days ago

If you want to see what it’s like for the Yankees’ **** to hit the fan, go ogle their 2013 DL numbers. Here’s the best part, and what the whole season felt like: Curtis Granderson got hit by a pitch in the hand in Spring Training and missed half the season. When he got back, he played probably two weeks before being hit again in the same spot and missing most of the rest of the season.

The best indicator of future injury problems is past injury problems. Your disappointment about their injuries may simply be a result of their old veteran players being guys they signed to huge free agent deals because they didn’t have any.

Damaso
Member
Damaso
3 months 16 days ago

plenty went wrong for the yanks last year. and the previous year or two.

all sorts of injuries, all sorts of drops in performances.

to pretend otherwise is just red sox fan bitterness.

YABooble
Member
YABooble
3 months 17 days ago

If Dave Cameron were Bill Simmons, those last three posts would be the perfect lead-in to “Yup, these are my fans.”

Joey Butts
Member
Joey Butts
3 months 16 days ago

Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury are two more huge bounce-back candidates. They should join Starlin Castro in helping to offset the regression expected from Beltran, A-Rod, and Teixeira.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 16 days ago

Yes, that’s true. Headleys back and Ellsbury persistent injury issues make this uncertain though

matt
Member
matt
3 months 16 days ago

The Yankees have a shot, but I think projections (cough steamer) are overly optimistic on the starting staff in particular. It projects 3.9 fWAR for Tanaka and 3.5 fWAR for Pineda, I’d take the significant under for those 2. Also Sabathia at 1.7 fWAR is overly optomistic. I can buy somewhat of a bounceback for Jacoby and Chase but there ages with defense regression is a very worrying sign still. I don’t think Yankees will be terrible, I just struggle to see how Yankees get to 85+ wins without a lot of scatter luck and run differential luck.

Cool Lester Smooth
Member
Cool Lester Smooth
3 months 14 days ago

The thing about the mega-bullpen they’ve constructed, though, is that they should be expected to have a lot of run-differential “luck.”

scott
Member
scott
3 months 16 days ago

Is there still a chance that they flip gardner? It seemed like a no brainer to me once they signed Hicks, but have not heard anything since. Possible to pick up again once Fowler signs?

Cool Lester Smooth
Member
Cool Lester Smooth
3 months 14 days ago

Gardner is, by a good bit, their best starting OF.

He’s not getting flipped.

Matt Mosher
Member
Member
Matt Mosher
3 months 16 days ago

I can’t see it. This Yankees team looks like a squad that could push for the most days lost to the DL in the history of baseball. To me, if they win 80 games, they exceeded expectations. They aren’t very good.

Miami Mike
Member
Miami Mike
3 months 15 days ago

One thing missing from this is the NYY penchant for running up scores / padding stats. A cursory view of their results from last year show at least 20 instances where unnecessary runs were added on at the expense of the weak and feeble. The Yankees are really not the day to day offensive juggernaut many would have you believe.

Only glove, no love
Member
Only glove, no love
3 months 14 days ago

Counting on beltran, texiera and arod can not be a comfortable place to be. Wow.

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