The legalization of sports betting in several states over the past few years has drastically altered the way fans follow their favorite sports. I am not a betting man myself, but with spring training wrapping up, let’s set a line on a few key Yankees player or team stats, and propose an age-old question: over or under?
1. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton combined home runs: 89.5
Remember when the Yankees first acquired Giancarlo Stanton, and people wondered if he and Aaron Judge could combine for 100 home runs in a season? An injury to Judge and some regression on both players’ power outputs led to a more modest 65 home runs from the Yankees’ bash brothers in 2018.
While 100 combined home runs is likely a long shot, a clean bill of health could see the two sluggers challenge the 90 home run mark. To hit the over, each player would need about 45 home runs.
It’s certainly possible. Judge hit 52 home runs in 2017 and was on pace for around 40 last year. Stanton hit 38 dingers last year and has flirted with 45+ before. However, due to health concerns, I think I’ll take the under on this one.
2. Gary Sanchez: .847 OPS
Gary Sanchez has been a divisive player in his brief 2.5 years with the Yankees. His career OPS of .847 is excellent among catchers, but last year, he only put up a .697 OPS.
To get back to his career .850 range, Sanchez will likely need to put up a .340 on-base percentage and .510 slugging percentage. Given his talent and track record, I’d take the over on Sanchez. He’s due for a bounce back year.
3. Yankees with 10+ home runs: 9.5
Last year, the Yankees set the MLB record for players with double-digit home runs with 12. Guys like Austin Romine, Neil Walker and Greg Bird surprisingly tallied at least 10 bombs last year.
Having 10 players with 10+ home run power shows impressive depth. The Yankees have seven “gimmes” in Stanton, Judge, Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Luke Voit.
Do the Yankees have three more guys capable of hitting 10+ home runs? Didi Gregorius probably will if he returns on time, and Brett Gardner has some pop left. After them, Troy Tulowitzki could do it, but he is an injury concern. DJ LeMahieu, meanwhile, has only hit 10+ home runs twice.
It’s close, but I will take the over by the slimmest of margins – the Yankees will have 10 double-digit home run hitters.
4. Yankees team stolen bases: 64.5
The Yankees are not a high stolen-base team. They only tallied 63 swipes last year, which actually feels like more than what really happened.
I’ve got an easy under here. The team didn’t add any speed, and the top three base stealers last year (Gardner, Hicks, Gregorius) are either getting old or are injured. The 2019 Yankees are a station-to-station team. No way will they steal more bags than last year.
5. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar: 28.5 errors
Torres and Andujar proved dynamic hitters for the Yankees last year, but struggled in the field. The two combined for 32 fielding errors last year, but have shown improved defense this spring.
Have they improved enough to shave off four errors from last year’s total? I’ll believe it when I see it. I will take the over, expecting about 15 errors from each player. Their futures are incredibly bright, but there is still work to be done in the field.
6. James Paxton: 164.2 innings pitched
Yankees fans should be excited about the acquisition of James Paxton. He’s a top-25 starter in his prime with good command and strikeout stuff. However, Paxton’s health is one reason for concern; he has never thrown more than 160 innings in a season despite being 30 years old.
Will Paxton finally top the 165-inning threshold? That would likely require about 28 starts, which seems doable. I will bet optimistically and take the over, but don’t be surprised if Paxton ends up missing time this year.
7. Yankees pitchers with 100+ strikeouts: 8.5
Through the last two seasons, six Yankees have struck out over 100 batters. New York’s pitchers love their strikeouts, and adding Adam Ottavino, Paxton, and a full year of Zack Britton should help the Bombers whiff even more batters this year.
By my count, the Yankees should top 8.5 with full health. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Ottavino, and Paxton make up eight locks. Guys like Britton and Chad Green could also challenge for 100 strikeouts.
It would be an unprecedented amount of strikeouts, but with the Yankees’ super-bullpen and the rotation looking good when healthy, it might be possible. It’s bold, but hit the over.
8. Pitchers to start 5+ games: 8.5
Five starts is about a month spent in the rotation, and nine Yankees made 5+ starts last year. Given the injury concerns around Severino, Sabathia, Tanaka and Paxton, I’d hit the over here. Yankees fans will be seeing a lot of Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Domingo German and at least one more pitcher not currently on the roster, this season.