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How did the Yankees’ offense fare compared to its projections?

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Despite the injuries, the Yankees’ lineup matched its preseason projections.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Every March, baseball fans throughout the world look toward the preseason projections, in order to get some preview of their team’s performance in the upcoming season. While they certainly are a useful tool, more often than not, these projections do not hold too much water as the regular season gets underway — after all, you can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.

And that is especially true of the 2019 Yankees, as the projections systems could not account for all the time missed by Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks...[insert Spongebob two hours later timecard]...and Edwin Encarnacion. With all these injuries, plus the unexpected production from a myriad of sources, it might be a bit unfair to compare the final product to the preseason projections, as in many ways, the projections predicted the performance of a very different team.

So naturally, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

2019 Projections vs. Actual

Projection Stat Actual
Projection Stat Actual
1330 H 1493
246 2B 290
18% 2B% 19.40%
17 3B 17
1.20% 3B% 1.10%
260 HR 306
20% HR% 20%
523 XBH 663
39% XBH% 41%
0.257 AVG 0.267
0.322 OBP 0.339
554 BB 663
5175 AB 5583

Remarkably, when you factor in the juiced ball via the use of hit type ratios, the 2019 Yankees performed fairly close to expectations, despite receiving 1330 plate appearances (more than 20% of the team-wide total!) from six guys who were not even in consideration for spots on anybody’s Opening Day roster — Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, Thairo Estrada, Cameron Maybin and Kyle Highashioka. Out of players with at least 175 plate appearances, all but three spent at least some time on the injured list, with two major contributors, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar, combining for 121 plate appearances.

The backups did not skip a beat, a testament to the quality of depth that Brian Cashman has acquired in recent years. In fact, you can make the argument that they outperformed the starters’ expectations slightly, with 41% of their hits going for extra bases instead of the projected 39%, although the slight differences such as this are within a reasonable margin of error and could likely be contributed to the juiced balls turning a handful of singles into doubles.

Of course, performance relative to the projections can only tell us so much; what is important is how they perform relative to the rest of the league. Now, since we don’t have league-average projections from back in March, I will do what I did back in April and use the 2018 statistics to approximate the “projection,” as the Yankees’ 2018 slashline and the 2019 projected slashline were fairly close.

2018 % 2019 vs. League Averages

Statistic 2018 Yankees 2018 Average Percent Difference 2019 Yankees 2019 Average Percent Difference
Statistic 2018 Yankees 2018 Average Percent Difference 2019 Yankees 2019 Average Percent Difference
Total Runs 851 721 118.0305132 943 791 119.216182
Doubles 269 276 97.46376812 290 288 100.6944444
Triples 23 28 82.14285714 17 26 65.38461538
Home Runs 267 186 143.5483871 306 232 131.8965517
AVG 0.249 0.248 100.4032258 0.267 0.253 105.5335968
OBP 0.329 0.318 103.4591195 0.339 0.323 104.9535604
SLG 0.451 0.409 110.2689487 0.49 0.439 111.6173121

Despite seeing major differences in personnel due to injuries, both years saw the Yankees’ offense at an elite level, with the sole weakness being the ability to hit triples. In fact, aside from a drop in number of triples hit and an increase in home run rates throughout the rest of the league, the Yankees offense held steady compared to the league average across the board.

Whether the Yankees would be able to keep this up in another injury-filled season remains to be seen (and frankly, nobody wants to see it). Nonetheless, the performance that the Yankees’ “Next Men Up” put on this season is nothing short of impressive, and the likes of Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, and Cameron Maybin deserve Tony Awards for their portrayals of Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Aaron Hicks at the plate.