A month into the season, the projection systems that attempted to forecast the year have fresh data to incorporate into their estimates. Some players seem to be establishing new levels of talent, while others look like they could be teetering on the edge of a cliff. With 30 games in the books, let's look at where the projections have changed the most with regard to the Yankees.
For this exercise, I have compiled FanGraphs' Steamer preseason projections, as well as updated forecasts that take the early results from 2016 into account, up through Monday's games. Here's which Yankee hitters have seen their projections change the most a month into the season:
|Player||Preseason wRC+||Updated wRC+||Change||Preseason WAR||Updated WAR||Change|
I haven't included players, such as Alex Rodriguez or Jacoby Ellsbury, whose projections have remained virtually unchanged, leaving only players who have seen their total projected WAR change by at least 0.3 in either direction. Notably, most such Yankees have seen a decrease in projected WAR.
Two Yankee hitters have seen an uptick in their expectations. However, that one of them is Torreyes, a backup infielder whose projected wRC+ has skyrocketed all the way to a mighty 79 in a small sample, speaks volumes about the Yankees' performance at the plate this season. The other hitter is Gardner, who, after smashing a couple of home runs this week, has bumped his actual season wRC+ to 121. He continues to look like one of the most dependable players on the team, and Steamer agrees.
Conversely, there are plenty of hitters whom Steamer sees as having played poorly enough to downgrade their projections. Perhaps most surprising is how pessimistic the system seems to be with regards to Gregorius. Gregorius' defensive acumen convinced Steamer to project him as an above average shortstop prior to the season, but with a 47 wRC+ on the season, Gregorius is all the way down to a projected 0.8 WAR. The loss of -1.5 projected WAR ranks as the worst on the team.
That Gregorius slots in below Headley might be shocking to some. Young Yankee fans should probably seek parental permission before viewing Headley's ghastly season line of .171/.266/.171. Even so, Steamer still sees Headley as essentially an average player going forward, forecasting him for a 100 wRC+ for the rest of the season, which would bring his season total to 87.
Now, for the changes among the pitching staff's projections:
|Player||Preseason ERA||Updated ERA||Change||Preseason WAR||Updated WAR||Change|
As demonstrated by the projections, New York's pitching hasn't been as disappointing as its collection of position players. A few pitchers have been good enough to see significant bumps upward, including staff ace Tanaka. These numbers don't include his most recent rough start, but Tanaka's impressive opening to the season had Steamer's projection for him all the way up to 4.4 WAR.
Eovaldi has received a somewhat intriguing updated projection despite his 4.78 ERA. Steamer likely sees his current strikeout rate of 8.84 K/9 and walk rate of 1.91 BB/9 as impressive enough to warrant optimism. Miller also sees a bump, even if he has been bumped down in the bullpen's pecking order. Such an increase seems reasonable, given Miller has allowed just one run, and has struck out 23 times as many batters as he has walked.
Steamer has grown more pessimistic when it comes to a couple of the Yankees' most promising young starters. Severino's ERA currently sits at an unsightly 6.19, and his projection has thus been walked back a bit. Still, if Severino matches his current projection and logs over 2 WAR, it would be far from a worst case scenario for a 22-year-old in his first full season in the majors.
Pineda has seen the largest negative revision. The projections were high on him entering the season, and he has not lived up to expectations. Pineda has yielded 22 runs and eight homers in 33 innings, and both his ERA and FIP are resting above 5. Steamer still projects him to get his ERA beneath 4 by season's end, but even the most optimistic forecaster would have a tough time envisioning Pineda as the front-line starter he was once hoped to be.
Overall, FanGraphs projects the Yankees to hold a .509 winning percentage through their remaining games. That would not be enough to dig them out of their current hole, and would leave them at 80-82. The Yankees have disappointed, and the projections reflect that. The new data the team has provided hasn't been enough to convince the projections that the Yankees are an irredeemably bad team, but as things stand, New York has an uphill climb ahead of them.