The 2022 ZiPS projections have been released for the New York Yankees. For those who are unfamiliar, ZiPS is a computer projection system created by Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs, and it uses multi-year statistics in order to help predict how a player will perform in the upcoming season. After an underwhelming and disappointing 2021 season, let’s have a look at how the projections think the Yankees and their players will fare this season.
Who will play well?
Surprise, surprise: Aaron Judge is projected to lead the Yanks in fWAR with an estimated 5.2 wins above replacement, while mashing 36 homers and 95 RBI. He’s not only projected to lead the team in fWAR, but also in OPS+, BABIP, slugging, and on-base percentage. That’s a heck of a season for someone who is entering free agency.
After an up-and-down half-season in pinstripes, Joey Gallo is expected to record his highest fWAR season with a 3.7, good for the second-highest on the team. He’s still going to have a low batting average and strike out a lot, but that’s the player he is, even at his best. In the same breath, he’s projected to lead the team in home runs with 38 and walks with 93. He’ll put up comparable power and defensive numbers to Judge in 2022. It should be a bounce back season for Gallo in the Bronx.
Next up is DJ LeMahieu, who is expected to have the third-highest fWAR on the team in 2022. Along with his 3.1 fWAR, ZiPS has him hitting .282/.344/.402 with a 104 OPS+. It doesn’t seem like we are going to see a 2019-2020 DJ again in terms of his elite production, but he’s still contributing at an above-average rate. He’s projected to lead the team in hits with 162 and doubles with 26. That’s a solid year at the plate, and he’ll most likely continue to shuffle around the infield if the Yankees can’t find a solid shortstop.
Continuing down the line, Anthony Rizzo (who is still a free agent), Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela are the next four in fWAR. All of them are above 2.0, but none above 2.7. None have eye-popping numbers, but expect improvement from Gleyber Torres. That would be a huge boost for the Yankees on offense. His defense is projected to remain below average, however.
Who will regress?
Giancarlo Stanton is not projected to have an incredible year. As the article says, “[Stanton] was healthy and solid in 2021, but the year largely served to narrow his range of outcomes in ZiPS rather than change its trajectory; a year older and farther away, ZiPS sees it as less likely that another 2017 is lurking in there somewhere.”
Big G’s OPS+ is expected to dip from 136 in 2021, to 123 in 2022, as well as hitting five fewer homers and walking less. His projected 2.5 fWAR would be the lowest of his Yankees career (not counting 2019-2020). The Yankees and Stanton will hope his actual play is a little bit better than what he’s projected to do.
Who will lead the team in each category?
fWAR: Aaron Judge: 5.2
BA: DJ LeMahieu: .282
OBP: Aaron Judge: .369
SLG: Aaron Judge: .538
Hits: DJ LeMahieu: 162
HR: Joey Gallo: 38
BB: Joey Gallo: 93
SO: Joey Gallo: 200
What about the pitchers?
Gerrit Cole is expected to continue his dominance in 2022. To no one’s surprise, ZiPS projects him to lead the rotation in fWAR (5.3), ERA (2.82), innings (182), strikeouts (248), FIP (2.78), among many other stats. When your listed No. 1 comp is Pedro Martinez, you’re in pretty good company.
Elsewhere, Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino will be two and three behind the ace, with Sevy pitching just under 100 innings for the season. Jameson Taillon will recover from his ankle injury to pitch 131.2 frames, but with less flashy numbers (4.24 ERA, 4.17 FIP). Nestor Cortés Jr. is only expected to make 15 starts with 12 games out of the bullpen. Luis Gil, who took the team by storm when he was given his opportunity, will have a much bigger role in 2022 as ZiPS has him starting 24 games.
Out in the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman is expected to have another solid year, pitching to a sub-three ERA with 88 strikeouts. Although, Jonathan Loáisiga could be the best pitcher in the ‘pen this year and the ultimate workhorse in relief. Chad Green will continue to be a solid setup man, and both Clay Holmes and Joely Rodríguez should cross the 10.0 K/9 threshold as well.
Once again, these are just projections, so anything can happen. The Yankees can only hope that most of the bats and arms will improve from last season in order to make a better run at a championship in 2022. If the projections tell us anything, it’s that once the MLB lockout ends, the Yanks need to dip into free agency or the trade market to make improvements on the infield.