As we remain mired in the doldrums of this stupid lockout, it becomes increasingly difficult to scrounge up life-sustaining baseball information. Luckily, while looking into something else, I noticed that Steamer has its 2022 projections posted. Accordingly, I dug into them to see if I could find anything interesting. And I did.
For anyone unfamiliar with Steamer, MLB.com’s glossary describes it as follows: “Like other projection systems, Steamer uses past performance and aging trends to develop a future projection for players. It also uses pitch-tracking data to help forecast pitchers … it is widely regarded as one of the most accurate predictors in the industry.” So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what their crystal ball has in store for the Bronx Bombers.
1. Not much daylight between Steamer and ZiPS when it comes to Yankee pitching
There is a little bit of individual variation in each projection system’s forecast for the top four Yankees starters — Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, and Jameson Taillon — but in the aggregate, both systems align on the upcoming campaign. ZiPS projects the four to combine for 11.8 WAR, headlined by Cole with 5.3. Meanwhile, Steamer sees the four combining for … 11.8 WAR, led by Cole with 5.4.
Two other pitching notes. First, Steamer is more pessimistic about Jonathan Loáisiga than ZiPS. The former has Johnny Lasagna penciled in for 0.9 WAR in 66 innings — meanwhile, the latter sees a 3.24 ERA and 1.5 WAR in 66.2 innings. Second, Steamer really likes Gerrit Cole (admittedly, so does ZiPS). His projected WAR trails only Mets ace Jacob deGrom in all of baseball, and I suspect most of us would sign up for Steamer’s projected 199 innings, 263 strikeouts, and 3.29 ERA.
2. Steamer really likes Gleyber Torres
Like … Steamer really likes young Torres, especially in comparison to ZiPS. Both systems see at least a partial power surge from Gleyber in 2022 (20 HR from ZiPS and 23 from Steamer). But Steamer forecasts a serious bounce back season from our oft-maligned second baseman.
A .791 OPS (compared to .758 from ZiPS), fewer strikeouts (18.7K% rather than 20.8% from ZiPS), and a surge in WAR. Whereas ZiPS projects Gleyber to compile 2.2 WAR, Steamer has the youngster good for 3.6, a number that would rank sixth in all of baseball at the keystone, and second among Yankees bats, behind only Aaron Judge.
One other Yankee bat that Steamer is bullish on compared to ZiPS? Aaron Hicks. While ZiPS does not foresee production much above replacement level from Hicks (0.8 WAR), Steamer sees hope, with the switch-hitting centerfielder hitting to a 112 wRC+ with 2.5 WAR.
3. Dingers. Dingers and offense galore
Steamer definitely sees the Yankees engaging in a season-long home run derby, with many of those round trippers coming from the usual suspects. Aaron Judge? 40 homeruns. Joey Gallo? 40 taters. Giancarlo Stanton? 39 four-baggers.
And this is not just a product of Steamer thinking everyone in baseball is going to club outrageous amounts of dingers. Judge and Gallo sit in a tie for fourth in MLB in Steamer’s projections while Stanton rests in a tie for sixth. And for anyone who’s dreaming on Matt Olson to the Yankees, he would plug in alongside Stanton. 40, 40, 39, and 39? I’d sign up for 158 homeruns from four players.
Overall, Steamer sees a bounce back from the Yankees offense. Steamer projects eight Yankee regulars to finish 2022 with a wRC+ above 100 and six above 115, led by Judge and Stanton checking in at 145 and 141, respectively. If you are wondering, only two Yankees in 2021 played a complete season in pinstripes and checked in above 100 wRC+ (Judge and Stanton, unsurprisingly).
Much like Cole on the other side of the ball, Steamer also really likes Judge in 2022. They forecast elite results for the giant slugger in the upcoming campaign. Steamer sees the face of the Yankees ending the season as the second-most valuable outfielder in the American League, behind only Mike Trout of the Angels.
If you are looking for reasons to be optimistic about the 2022 Yankees, Steamer might be the place to go. They crown Gerrit Cole as the king of American League pitching in 2022, foresee a resurgence from Gleyber Torres, and project a much more formidable and daunting Yankees offense than the one we watched in befuddlement for much of 2021.
Will Steamer’s projections become reality? Time will tell. But for someone who has waffled back and forth between optimism and pessimism at the Yankees’ chances in 2022, Steamer has given me more reason to think that there is hope as we wait for this abominable lockout to end so pitchers and catchers can report and we can play ball.