It’s that time of year again. You’ve opened up your presents from under the tree, and just after New Year’s Day, you find one more gift behind the tree as you’re about to toss it out the door: projections.
Each year, Dan Szymborski of ESPN releases ZiPS projections for each club, highlighting the yearly advanced and non-advanced statistics totals for 2018. I have been doing this for a few years now, and I have unfortunately had to run articles along the lines of, “Well, it’s OK, and there’s some upside, but this projection shows a .500 team.” This year, it’s quite different.
There are quite a few things to point out. The obvious one is that the infield appears to look a little weak, but we can hedge on that a little bit. Didi Gregorius, for example, is projected for a 92 wRC+ and 2.3 WAR. I happen to disagree on that one, and I think that adjustments he has made over the last two years are “real,” giving him a little boost. In my mind, he’s something like a three-win player.
Greg Bird is dinged for injury, and there I can agree. Yet, you can see the upside in a full season, which would look something like two wins or so over a full year (his comp of David Ortiz isn’t too shabby, either). The other issue is second and third base, and that really depends on Gleyber Torres. Torres is projected for 1.5 WAR and a 102 wRC+ over 426 plate appearances, so if he gets the job out of camp, I would probably project him as something like a two-win player over a full year.
The rest of the roster, frankly, is insane. Here’s the first interesting tidbit from Szymborski on Giancarlo Stanton:
Before the Stanton 55 home run projection for 2018, the most homers ever projected by ZiPS was 51 for Ryan Howard in 2007.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) January 5, 2018
His comp is Harmon Killebrew! No matter the question marks in the infield, the Yankees have one of the best sluggers of this era on their roster, and his average projection is 55 home runs, a 161 wRC+, and 6.4 WAR. The rest of the lineup is pretty stacked as well:
Other than the eyebrow-raising Jabari Blash, and Todd Frazier who is not on the roster currently, seven regular players are projected to be better than 100 wRC+.
The pitching is just as good. The bullpen projects for a collective eight wins, nearly unheard of for any roster, and the rotation is projected for about 15 wins. Luis Severino’s comp is Dwight Gooden, and Sonny Gray’s is Jack Morris.
Overall, this is a fantastic roster on paper for the Yankees. I recommend checking out the full piece on FanGraphs, because that in and of itself is worth a read. We’ve spent quite a few years seeing these projections and having to squint to see the upper-probability outcomes, but that’s no longer the case. The Evil Empire is back.