Friday, April 28, 2017

Peering Into My Crystal Ball

Writing this post has been unusual for me. The vast majority of the time I'm optimistic. Hell, I have defended some horrible players and moves over the years (for example, I didn't think bringing back Javier Vazquez was a bad thing, and I was a little off on that). But how can anybody look at this team and honestly believe they have the 5th best offense and pitching in MLB?

So I looked down the roster, particularly at the starters at each position, to try and predict the future. Here's what I found...

What will get better?

1. I believe Gary Sanchez will hit better than Austin Romine. And that's not to say Austin has been hitting poorly, either. Romine's batting line of .273/.327/.386 is about average for a catcher in the AL. However, Gary Sanchez is... well... Gary Sanchez. I don't have to explain to you guys why he should hit better than "average".

2. Greg Bird will not hit this poorly all season. That's not to say I believe Bird will hit like he did in Spring Training, but I certainly don't believe he's this bad. From what I've seen and read it's all a timing problem, which can be fixed. Will that happen in MLB or AAA? That I don't know. But I think we can expect more of a contribution from Yankee first baseman in the future.

What will stay the same?

1. While the individual batting stats may change a bit (he'll bat higher than .231, and his SLG should rise a bit too), Matt Holliday's overall production will likely be around the same. The main thing I'm seeing with him is that he's striking out more than he ever has, while walking a lot more than normal too. And at age 37, can we really expect better than an OPS+ of 119? I don't.

What will get worse?

"This is quite a long list."

1. Starlin Castro is not going to fight for a batting title. He's currently hitting .346, which is the 2nd best batting average in the American League. That's not to say Starlin will be flirting with the Mendoza line, but his home run rate is probably going to drop and he'll draw fewer walks.

2. The return of Didi Gregorius is not going to change a whole hell of a lot. Ronald Torreyes is currently batting .308, which is better than Didi has ever hit in a season. And while Ronald's OBP of .308 is kinda bad, Didi's OBP was actually lower last season and only 10 points higher than that the year before. Didi may hit a few more home runs than Torreyes would, but the overall production is unlikely to change much.

3. When was the last time Chase Headley had a batting average over .300? If you said "never" you're a winner! When was the last time Headley's OBP was .377 or higher? If you said "never" you win again! When was the last time Chase had a SLG... you get the picture. Chase Headley is not going to produce at the plate like he was so far this year.

4. Unlike Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury has seen similar success with the bat in his career. Unfortunately that success hasn't been seen since 2013. It would be nice if Ellsbury figured something out, especially since I don't see the Yankees getting rid of him before his contract is up, but after two straight poor seasons I'm not going to buy into what we've seen so far in 2017.

5. I love what Aaron Judge is doing this season, both with the bat and glove (that catch against the Red Sox the other night was great, if not scary). But nobody is going to convince me he'll finish this season with an OPS+ of 171. Such a season would have finished second to Mike Trout in 2016. But unlike with Ellsbury, I don't see Judge's overall production dropping that much. Probably just a few less home runs than he's on pace for is all.

6. Not a single Yankees pitcher, starter or reliever, currently has an ERA over 4.20. And that 4.20 belongs to Masahiro Tanaka, who is probably the only pitcher on the Yankees that will improve in that category. I'll just look at their pitchers in bullet points...

  • Despite him still being a little homer-prone, Luis Severino has pitched really well so far this season. But can he keep that walk rate lower, and strikeout rate higher, than he averaged in the minors? I'm not betting on it.
  • It's hard to judge CC Sabathia, seeing as how he's a different pitcher than he was just a couple of years ago. However, I believe his final ERA this season will be closer to 5.00 than it will be to 3.00 (he's currently at 2.70).
  • What Michael Pineda is currently doing is probably a little better than what he'll do from here on out this season. The fact of the matter is his floor is much lower, while he's likely already exceeded his ceiling.
  • Like with Judge, I've been enjoying what Jordan Montgomery has done this year. But he's also only thrown 16.2 innings in MLB, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. While his peripherals make sense based on what he did in the minors, I have a feeling that once opposing teams see him more things could change for the worse. 
  • The bullpen, particularly Bryan Mitchell, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren, are not going to continue getting the same results. Mitchell is going to give up more hits, Clippard's k-rate will slow down, and Warren will walk a few more guys while striking out less. I'm not saying it's going to get "bad", but the only guys in that bullpen that will finish with an ERA of  around 1.51 (our reliever's current ERA) are Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.

I'm going to urge you all to read this post again. Not because it's life-changing or amazing, but because it's one of the few times you're going to see me take a dump on the Yankees. Sorry if I'm raining on anyone's parade, but if this team actually contends for a playoff spot I'm going to be extremely surprised.

Oh, and also extremely happy.

"Go Yanks. Go Yanks! GO YANKS!"

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