2016 Recap: 84-78, 4th in the AL East. The 2016 Yankees were supposed to have their worst season the early 90’s, and although they technically did (tied for worst record since ‘95), they still managed to exceed expectations. There was a constant worry that every Masahiro Tanaka start would be the last one as his elbow is currently held together by duct tape, but he lasted the entire season and really carried the Yankees staff. The Yanks also traded prized relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for big time prospects Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier then in epic fashion signed Chapman back this offseason. The Yanks probably overachieved in 2016 and regression could be coming in 2017, but make no mistake the Evil Empire is on its way back.
Significant Additions: LHP Aroldis Chapman, 1B/OF Matt Holliday, 1B Chris Carter, RHP Ernesto Frieri
Significant Subtractions: 1B Mark Teixeira
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- C Gary Sanchez
- DH Matt Holliday
- 1B Greg Bird
- 2B Starlin Castro
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Aaron Judge
- SS Tyler Wade
I cannot go much longer into this preview without mentioning 2016 super rookie Gary Sanchez. Sanchez came up for good on August 3rd and proceeded to mash 20 home runs over his final 52 games. Now I don’t think we can expect a 60 home run season from Sanchez, but what he does signal is the next wave of Yankee stars. Lower on the prospect totem pole is outfielder Aaron Judge and first basemen Greg Bird. Judge has ridiculous raw power, but struck out 44% of the time last season and looked completely overmatched at times. I’m not giving up on Judge yet by any means, but he reminds me a little bit of new Yankee Chris Carter, .225 average and 40 homers are in play for Judge. Bird missed all of last year with a major shoulder injury and is having a monster spring solidifying his spot as the Yanks opening day first basemen. There are still some veterans that can contribute when healthy like Ellsbury, Gardner, and Holliday, but you have to worry about durability with all three. The Yankees would love for someone to take the horror that is Chase Headley off their hands, but I doubt they will find any takers unless Headley can show some life in the first half. Outfielder Clint Frazier will likely be the next big name to make his debut, but New York is in no real rush to bring him or shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres to the big leagues just yet.
Projected rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- RHP Masahiro Tanaka
- RHP Michael Pineda
- LHP CC Sabathia
- RHP Luis Severino
- RHP Chad Green
- LHP Aroldis Chapman – Closer
- RHP Dellin Betances
- RHP Tyler Clippard
- RHP Adam Warren
- LHP Tommy Layne
There is real potential with the Yankees lineup, but not so much with their rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is bonafide ace when he’s on the mound and was able to make 31 starts last season, but you have to wonder how long he keep going with a partially torn UCL that leads to Tommy John surgery much more often than it doesn’t. Michael pinata I mean Pineda, continues to tease everyone with his 24.7% career strikeout rate and 5.6% career walk rate, but the problem is when Pineda gives up contact it usually goes a long way. Pineda gave up a hard contact 32% of the time last season and 17% of his fly balls left the yard, Pineda might be better off walking a guy from time to time instead of challenging every hitter that steps into the batters box. For this staff to be anything other than bad, the Yanks will need Pineda to give up his pinata like ways. You will not find a better 1-2 at the back end of the bullpen than the one in The Bronx. I questioned why a rebuilding team gave a closer such a big contract, but Yanks are gonna Yanks. Tyler Clippard is someone the Yankees could get something in return for at the deadline if they are behind in the race.
Stud: C Gary Sanchez. Sanchez’s power rate will not continue in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the best catcher in all of fantasy. Sanchez offers a power upside Buster Posey doesn’t and a batting average upside Jonathan LuCroy doesn’t. If Sanchez can keep slugging, he could pass both by season’s end on the catcher rankings. You could argue Sanchez is worth a 5th round pick in 2 catcher leagues.
Sleeper: OF Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has gone from someone I was avoiding most years to someone I’m ready to grab wherever I can. Nothing has really changed about Ellsbury the player, just perception of him by fantasy owners. At pick 250, Ellsbury could be great value especially if stolen bases are down across the league this year as many expect.
Bust: SP Michael Pineda. I’ve already gone in depth about Pineda’s struggles, but at where you have to draft Pineda, there is just no way I’m touching him this season. Going outside the top 50 starters is still someone you will need to rely on throughout the season. No thanks, I’ll pass on the Pineda blow ups.
2017 Record Prediction: The Yankees are really close to being good again (sigh), but not in 2017. The Yankees pitching has the potential to be really bad and it will keep them out of contention this year. 80-82. Fourth in the AL East.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo credit: NY Daily News
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 3/28
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC