Last year's Yankee team was somewhat inept defensively. Between highlight reel failures like the inside-the-park-homer allowed by Carlos Beltran in right field to the revenge of pastadiving Jeter, the 2014 Yankees were a squad that, on total, I am eager to forget.
So I keep looking forward to the 2015 Yankees. Their offense is going to struggle. Their pitching is hanging on a few weak ligaments and a prayer.
But the defense should be good. It's possible the defense could be very good. So, I pulled up Steamer's projections for our defense and compared them to last year's results. There are a lot of holes in this: while Steamer makes a best guess at plate appearances for each player, it doesn't try to work out playing time for the team. So to try to help you visualize that difference, I added a column second to the right to calculate the difference in plate appearances.
|Name||G||2014 PA||Def||WAR||Name||2015 PA||Def||WAR||PA Difference||Def Difference|
|Brian McCann||140||538||11.5||2.3||Brian McCann||518||8.8||3.2||-20||-2.7|
|Francisco Cervelli||49||162||2.7||1.3||Gary Sanchez||1||0||0|
|John Ryan Murphy||32||85||-0.3||0.2||John Ryan Murphy||123||2.5||0.4||38||2.8|
|Austin Romine||7||13||0.1||-0.1||Austin Romine||60||1.2||0.1||47||1.1|
|Chase Headley||58||224||12.4||2.8||Chase Headley||595||9.3||4||371||-3.1|
|Mark Teixeira||123||508||-3.6||0.8||Mark Teixeira||541||-5.1||1.4||33||-1.5|
|Kelly Johnson||77||227||0.8||0.7||Alex Rodriguez||410||-9.5||0||183||-10.3|
|Jose Pirela||7||25||0.5||0.3||Jose Pirela||66||0.4||0.2||41||-0.1|
|Dean Anna||12||25||0.3||-0.1||Ramon Flores||1||0||0||-24||-0.3|
|Derek Jeter||145||634||-4||-0.3||Didi Gregorius||427||5.6||1.3||-207||9.6|
|Jacoby Ellsbury||149||635||2.1||3.6||Jacoby Ellsbury||631||4.8||3.7||-4||2.7|
|Brett Gardner||148||636||-2.9||3.2||Brett Gardner||660||2.8||3.1||24||5.7|
|Chris Young||23||79||1.7||1||Chris Young||462||-2.3||1.3||383||-4|
|Ichiro Suzuki||143||385||-5.5||0.4||Garrett Jones||342||-9.1||0.5||-43||-3.6|
|Scott Sizemore||6||16||0.6||0.1||Tyler Austin||1||0||0||-15||-0.6|
|Carlos Beltran||109||449||-13.4||-0.5||Carlos Beltran||460||-11.8||0.8||11||1.6|
|Brendan Ryan||49||124||2.9||-0.7||Brendan Ryan||301||6.7||0.1||177||3.8|
|Alfonso Soriano||67||238||-9.8||-1.1||Mason Williams||33||0.1||0||-205||9.9|
|Stephen Drew||46||155||-3.8||-1.3||Stephen Drew||494||4.3||1.1||339||8.1|
A few quick observations:
- Working on the rule of thumb that ten runs are worth a win, this team is two defensive wins better than last year's team.
- Steamer really thinks that Stephen Drew is going to show his value as a second baseman, much more so than Pirela. How much better offensively would Rob Refsnyder have to be than Drew to come out ahead? Considering that Refsnyder is widely considered a defensive work in progress, I'm not sure Refsnyder will hit enough to make the equation balance.
- Could Didi Gregorius' defense really be a full win better than Derek Jeter's? Considering that I think Gregorius is going to get more than 427 PA, I'm ready to pencil that in as a win and a half better.
- Brett Gardner has underscored on defensive metrics nearly every year since his injury spoiled 2012. I'm not ready to buy that he's going to be as much above average as he was below average last season.
- Man, was Alfonso Soriano bad last season. Unfortunately, with Garrett Jones and Chris Young likely to take the bulk of playing time he received plus more, I don't expect as much improvement as the Yanks might otherwise look forward to.
- If 40 year old Alex Rodriguez sees any time on the field, I'm gonna make angry sounds.
What else do you see? What about this's defense team excites you?