When we talk about fantasy baseball, it’s all about value. If you get, say, Aaron Judge, second overall, it may be seen as a reach because for all his talent; we know that he won’t bat .350 or steal many bases, not to mention his injury risk. Now, if you manage to get the Yankees’ right fielder in the fifth round, you may very well have the steal of the draft if things break right.
As a whole, we can firmly say that the Yankees boast some of the best talent for fantasy in MLB. You can find a myriad of sluggers and plenty of runs and RBI, and while there aren’t too many stolen bases, players like Brett Gardner or Aaron Hicks can contribute in that category. When it comes to pitchers, the Bombers have one of the best starters in the world in Gerrit Cole, as well as one of the most reliable closers in Aroldis Chapman. James Paxton can rack up the Ks with a solid WHIP, while Masahiro Tanaka is a reliable source of wins, strikeouts and quality stars, inconsistent 2019 aside.
Having said that, every MLB team has players to target and players to avoid for fantasy purposes. Of course, it will always depend on the format - if you play in OBP leagues instead of batting average, virtually every member of the Yankees’ starting lineup makes sense to target- but here are some players on the roster who you can consider for this shortened season, and others that you should try to stay away from if possible.
Yankees to target
DJ LeMahieu: Analysts in fantasy circles are already assuming that LeMahieu won’t come close to his 2019 performance, when he put up career highs in homers (26) RBI (102) and batted .327.
But his underlying stats support last year’s power breakout. He hit the ball harder than almost all of his peers (47.2 rate, in the 90th percentile), and he was equally effective against all types of pitches. He’s still in his prime, not to mention he will be motivated to prove last year wasn’t a fluke in a contract year.
He may not quite have last season’s numbers, but if he slides on draft day, make sure to pounce. He has the talent to produce.
Gerrit Cole: As we will outline in a bit, the Yankees may want to take it easy with a few injury-prone stars just to make sure they get to the postseason in one piece. However, my impression is that they won’t limit Cole at all in the regular season in order to let him build arm strength and stamina with an eye on the playoffs.
Cole will likely rank among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP, and has the goods to lead your fantasy rotation to the promised land.
Gleyber Torres: The powerful shortstop may very well challenge for the MVP award in the 2020 short season. He will play one-sixth of his games against the Baltimore Orioles!
In 2019, Gleyber slashed .394/.467/1.045 with 13 homers in 75 plate appearances against the O’s. Kidding aside (or not?) Torres should be able to build upon last season’s success and will have a privileged lineup spot on one of the best offenses in baseball. He just needs to hit the ball hard more consistently (he was in the 33rd percentile) to unlock a new level.
Yankees to avoid:
Aaron Judge: Make no mistake: I love Aaron Judge. He is perhaps my favorite current Yankee. But I know that manager Aaron Boone prefers to have a healthy Judge in the playoffs, and given the depth that the club has in the outfield, he may be inclined to give him a rest day here or there, IF Judge even starts the year healthy. He isn’t a lock to be ready to go in late July, as he is still working to shake off a broken rib.
Judge is unfortunately an injury risk. Fluky or not, he has been hurt for large portions of the last two years, missing 110 games in that span. In a short season, I’d prefer to target players with a more reliable health record, as one trip to the injured list can wreck a player’s season in 2020.
Jordan Montgomery: I very much like Jordan Montgomery as a real-life player. He is young, under contract and effective, if not spectacular. However, I have only seen him do it once. I might need to see more to be fully on board for the future.
He was excellent as a rookie in 2017, then got hurt and missed virtually all of the last two years. I need to see him repeat a sub-4.00 ERA in the AL East (and also against very difficult NL East foes on the calendar this year, such as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and others) to ride the train for the future.
Brett Gardner: Gardy is as steady as they come. He is actually the only Yankee that can get you something close to a 15-steal pace, in a normal season of course. But he is also aging (he will turn 37 during the season).
Yes, he is coming off a career season that saw him hit 28 home runs, but the Yankees have too many talented outfielders to feed with playing time. Gardner should see the field more often than not (his glove alone buys him some reps), but may not be an everyday starter given the presence of Giancarlo Stanton, Judge, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and even Miguel Andujar.