2016 84-78 (4th Place AL East)
We’re back from our hiatus to preview the New York Yankees. We’ll be joined shortly by Christian Kouroupakis from Elite Sports NY to get his take on the 2017 Bronx Bombers.
The Yankees did a whole hell of a lot to improve their farm system in 2016, but still finished with a winning record. They’ll rely on more youth in 2017, but that might not be such a bad thing.
Gary Sanchez was the breakout star in 2016 and he figures to be a huge factor in the Yankees offense in 2017 as well. Even with Sanchez though, my projections don’t love the Yankees offense in 2017 as I’ve currently got them 13th in the American League. I’ve got their projected lineup as my 14th overall but their bench helps them out a little as I have them as my 9th ranked unit. These could be dead wrong though if Sanchez continues to produce like he did last year and some of the other younger guys come up and make a huge impact.
The Yankees re-signed Aroldis Chapman this offseason to add to a bullpen that will continue to be great in 2017. I’ve got their bullpen as my 7th ranked unit in the AL; that may sound a little low, but the AL is stacked when it comes to relief pitching.
My projections may be a little higher on the Yanks rotation than most as I’ve currently got them as my 8th best unit headed into 2017. All in all, the Yankees pitching staff checks in as my 6th best squad in the AL.
The defense projects to be a little below league average in New York this year as they are my 10th rated defense headed into the season. However, World Series winning manager Joe Girardi will help the Yankees final score out a bit.
Let’s check in with Christian Kouroupakis to see how confident he is about the 2017 Yankees.
What are the Yankees expectations for Greg Bird and Aaron Judge this year?
"Usually, expectations are high with this organization, but this is a different kind of year for the Yankees. With Greg Bird, the brass is first looking to see if he can make it to opening day healthy. That comes first. Now, he’s off to a great start in spring training and that rust we saw in the Arizona Fall League (.215 BA, 1 HR, 17 G) has died down and we’re getting a peek at the Greg Bird we saw back in 2015. If he’s healthy, the expectation is that he’d bring a power presence back to the first base position. In 2016, Yankee first basemen hit just .222 (third-worst in MLB), hit 23 home runs (seventh-worst in MLB), maintained an OPS of .659 (second-worst in MLB) and sported a -1.4 WAR (third-worst in MLB). Bird, who was on a 38-homer pace in 2015, will certainly bump the Yanks up in those rankings if he’s healthy."
"With Aaron Judge, they expect him to drop the hammer and help the Yankees become the “Bronx Bombers” again. Since 2000, the Yankees have hit over 200 total home runs in 13 seasons. In all 13 of these seasons, the Yankees clinched the postseason. In the four sub-200 home run seasons (’08, ’13, ’14 and ’16), they did not. 2016 marked just the third year since 2009 that no Yankee reached the 30 home run plateau. The other seasons? 2014 and 2013. What do all three years have in common? The Yankees did not reach the playoffs. It’s how they’ve done it for years: hit bombs, pop champagne. ZiPS is calling for 30 home runs and 83 RBIs which would not only have led the 2016 team, but that home run total would make Judge the first Yankees’ right fielder to hit 30 or more since Gary Sheffield hit 34 dingers in 2005 (Yankees record: 95-67). The player to do it before Sheffield? Reggie Jackson back in 1980 (Yankees record: 103-59). Sorry to bore you with power outage stat, but overall the Yankees are expecting adjustments to be made, a lot of strikeouts and a whole lot of power -- something that they desperately need."
The bullpen looks to be really strong again this season; how do you think the rotation will stack up?
"People don’t like that they don’t know, and the uncertainty of the rotation is what people are scared of. It has the potential to be great, but also the potential to be the reason why the Yankees don’t reach the ALDS for the first time since 2012. I love Severino (if his changeup is here to stay, expect big things from this kid) and Cessa to grab those last two spots in the rotation, but don’t expect the starting five out of the gate to remain together for the entirety of the season. Remember, the 2016 team had 22 starts made by guys who weren’t on the roster to begin the year. But how will it stack up? Man, who knows? I see it being similar to last year: Solid year by Tanaka, a respectable performance by CC, the same-old Michael Pineda and youngsters filling the void. Just expect a lot of guys to be rotated in and out of the rotation until some stability is found."
How soon, if at all, do you expect to see guys like Torres and Frazier in the Bronx?
"Torres will start in Double-A, but his AFL MVP performance, IQ and Spring Training showcase had Brian Cashman say that call-ups from Trenton to the Bronx aren’t far-fetched. I’d put my money on 2018, but injuries happen and if Gleyber Torres is obliterating Double-A ball like he’s clearly capable of doing, then don’t be shocked to see his major league debut in 2017."
"Clint Frazier has an MLB ETA of 2017, but the Yankees, like they wanted from Aaron Judge, want to see Red Thunder tear Triple-A apart before his major league promotion. He’s got the raw talent, bat speed and personality the fan base is drooling over, but his .228/.278/.396 slash line with a 29.7 strikeout percentage in 25 games with the RailRiders a year ago hints that we’re still waiting for it to come together. If is toolset translates to results, you’ll see his debut in 2017."
Are there any veterans in your eyes that the Yankees could move for a few more younger pieces?
"It depends on where the Yankees sit at the trade deadline. If Holliday is tearing it up and the Yankees are in fourth place, why not cash in on it? Same for Carter, Gardner and Headley. The latter two have been swirled around rumors for what seems like ages and Carter’s 3.5 million would be picked up EASILY by a contender."
In the end, do you see the Yanks as serious contenders in 2017 or still a year or two away?
"No one should take the Yankees as serious contenders in 2017. Sorry, but their 6-1 start to spring training doesn’t change that. But, they have the potential to shock the baseball world just like they did during the second half last year. The team that traded away their best hitter and two best relievers went 32-26 including a near-perfect August that brought them from within one game of a postseason spot. They added Chapman back, will get Bird back, Sanchez for a full season and other small components that could lead to a successful season. The fact that Cashman put together a team with immense upside should be commended, but Yankees’ fans have to take 2017 for what it is: assessing young talent. They CAN win, but patience is key. You’re going to see some growing pains."
I tend to agree with Christian that the Yankees won’t be a threat to win the American League in 2017. I have them rated as my 10th overall club in the AL headed into the season.
Vegas has New York’s win total at 83.5. Last year, the 10th place team in the American League had an 81-81 record. I think something like that is pretty close to where the Yankees will finish this year, so I have them going under 83.5 wins this season.
I think New York will actually finish a few wins under that 81-81 mark I mentioned above. I’ve got the Yankees finishing with a 78-84 record. I think they’ll try and move a few more guys midseason as they start looking forward to next year and beyond.