Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fangraphs Dan Szymborski’s Yankees ZIPS Predictions

I know I tend to reference Baseball Reference a lot on my articles because it’s my favorite resource for writing my articles but is a close second. What Fangraphs brings you that Baseball Reference does not, well besides two different sets of WAR’s between them, is that Fangraphs brings you unique content and Dan Szymborksi’s yearly ZIPS predictions. ZIPS is basically a glorified computer system that predicts how every team will do the following year and the ZIPS system has been extremely reliable over the years, how do the 2016 Yankees stack up as of today according to ZIPS? Well I went over to Fangraphs and I found out. 

I started with the starting pitching, the biggest question mark for the Yankees going forward, and added up a combined 10 zWAR (the higher the better). Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino will lead the charge for the Yankees at the top producing 3.0 zWAR each while Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi aren’t far behind with a 2.0 zWAR each. CC Sabathia produced a 0 zWAR which brought the overall number down. The 2015 version of the Yankees produced a 12.9 zWAR and their 10.0 zWAR would rank them 10th overall in the American League (using 2015 numbers). 

The pitching is predicted to take a step back but that’s fine if the bullpen can pick them up, right? Especially with Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances anchoring the back end of the bullpen that is predicted to produce a 6.0 zWAR. Last season the Yankees bullpen produced a 5.3 zWAR which tied the Houston Astros for the second best total in the Major Leagues. Only the Baltimore Orioles produced a zWAR at or above 6.0 in 2015. 

One thing is for certain though, and I feel like this is something that Yogi Berra would have said, you can’t win a game if you don’t score any runs. The starters can exceed their 10.0 zWAR and the bullpen could put up another 10.0 zWAR but that means nothing if the offense falters and begins to show its age. The Yankees offense produced a 20.4 zWAR in 2015 behind the returns of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira but ZIPS predicts that another year on the roster will hurt the Yankees overall dropping them to a team total 19zWAR in 2016. This does not take into account potential ZIPS predictions for Greg Bird or Aaron Judge who may or may not get a chance to play in 2016. If they do play Judge is predicted to produce a 1.5 zWAR while Bird looks good for a 2.0 zWAR. Carlos Beltran is listed at a 0.0 zWAR right along with CC Sabathia.

Using ZIPS from around the league it looks like the Yankees will once again fall somewhere in the 80-90 win area with a shot at one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League. The season will depend on injuries and the effectiveness of their aging and high-priced stars, per the usual. Can Teixeira and Rodriguez hold up over one more season and can Beltran and Sabathia keep their heads above water as their careers come to a close. Can Jacoby Ellsbury bounce back and can Brett Gardner play at a major league level in the second half? These are all questions that ZIPS, or any advanced metric for that matter, cannot answer. We’ll all just have to stay tuned and find out for ourselves this season. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)