Category: Analysis Page 1 of 25

The 2019 Yankees and RBI

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve at least dipped a toe into the waters of analytics, sabermetrics, whatever you want to call it. Even if you haven’t done more than that–or even that at all–you likely know that RBI isn’t exactly an ‘in vogue’ measure of a player’s performance. And, really, it shouldn’t be. While getting a hit with a man on base is great, that hitter didn’t do the work to put the men on base. At best, a high RBI total shows us a combination of skill–getting the hit–and chance–hitting while there happened to be men on in front of you. 

Stil, RBI tells us a story–who scored when and courtesy of whom. Without that story, the story of the game itself can’t be told. Earlier in the week, I saw a story about RBI that caught my attention. 

In a Facebook group, someone mentioned Luis Castillo’s 2000 season, in which he notched 17 RBI in 626 (!) plate appearances. Curious as to how that happened, I went to Castillo’s game logs page on Baseball Reference and looked up this handy chart:

Despite how shockingly low that is, especially when you see it compared to the average, it makes sense. Castillo was mostly a leadoff guy who was on a below average (79-82) team, so he routinely had bad hitters and the pitcher in front of him to drive in. The whole thing, though, got me curious about the Yankees. How good were they at driving in runners? Let’s take a look, using some charts. I included only those who had 300+ PA. 

Gary Sanchez

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
44629677265426321+5

Luke Voit

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
51032062196130020+1

DJ LeMahieu

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
655343102307938620+10

Didi Gregorius

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
34421561284120220+8

Gio Urshela

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
47630474245728020+4

Gleyber Torres

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
60436890247335621+3

Brett Gardner

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
55030574246632420+4

Aaron Judge

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
44724955225426321+1

This isn’t too surprising, is it? The Yankees get a lot of men on base–not one player had fewer than expected runners–and drive a lot of them in–not one player had fewer than expected RBI. As such, all of them are above the average expected RBI% by at least 1%, with DJLM smoking everyone else at 10% above average. 

Are these players good because they have high RBI totals and percentages compared to the average? No. They have those things because they are good players and they play with good players who get on base. RBI don’t tell the whole story, but they tell part of it. In this case, it’s another way of telling us the the Yankees are good at hitting. Plain and simple.

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Baseball’s New Agreement & DJ LeMahieu’s Future with the Yankees

Last week’s agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Association outlined what the 2020 season could look like if happens at all. It opened up a huge range of outcomes, so I’m gaming out their potential impact on the Yankees. Yesterday, for example, I thought about what it might mean if games are all held at neutral sites and the Yankees get zero games in the Bronx. Today, I want to focus on another, long-term element: how it impacts DJ LeMahieu. He will be a free agent after the season, remember. Yes, I’m getting ahead of myself, but what else am I supposed to do right now?

The agreement includes some pretty substantial protections for the players. In the event that there’s no season, players on the 40-man roster will receive service time equivalent to what they earned in 2019. In other words, LeMahieu will be a free agent this winter no matter what happens. His case is fascinating to me and I’ve spent tons of time thinking about it already.

2019, A Career Year

As we all know, LeMahieu was an absolute force at the plate last year. As Derek noted in his season review, everyone – literally everyone – was wrong about him. In my decade plus on the Yankee internet, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the fanbase so collectively wrong. (That’s saying something!) Our guy hit .327/.375/.518 (136 wRC+) and blasted 26 home runs, almost double his previous career high of 15.

It was an impressive showing but also somewhat of an anomaly for the infielder. It was not just his most valuable season by a full win (5.4 fWAR to 4.4 in 2016, his previous career high), but he also hit the ball much harder and for considerably more power. I mean, who ever thought we’d see LeMahieu doing this?

There was some evidence that LeMahieu was undervalued and underperforming at the plate in Colorado – his batted ball profile was good in 2018, for example – but nobody expected this. He put up a bonafide MVP year and had all of the peripherals to support him. Of course, the weird ball last year injects some level of uncertainty to this success. How much uncertainty depends on who you ask. Still, though, there’s no question about the fact that his best year in terms of offensive production – and especially in terms of power – came in the year of the rocket ball. That’s bound to at least raise some eyebrows and skepticism, fair or not.

Ordinarily, LeMahieu would be looking for a strong rebound campaign to quiet those doubts and prove that his 2019 was not an anomaly. Now, he will either have considerably fewer games to prove that case, which inserts all kinds of small sample size noise, or may never get the chance at all. This is unfortunate for everyone but it hurts a guy like LeMahieu, who burst on the season in 2019, disproportionately.

The Offseason Landscape

The offseason, no matter what this season ends up looking like, is going to be weird as hell. That’s especially true for LeMahieu. There are three main things to consider, I think. Let’s get into all of those here.

New Budget Constraints

First things first: management is going to be feeling the squeeze after this season, no matter what happens. I know nobody feels bad for them, but we have to live in reality. COVID-19 is wrecking havoc on America’s economy. It’s only going to get worse the longer this goes on. There are fewer games, which means less revenue at the gate and from merchandise. People will also have less disposable income to spend on those items even if everything recovers in the most optimistic timeline. All of this will be true even as operating costs continue unabated.

As we all know, though, most MLB revenue comes from TV deals. I’d guess that this revenue is still coming through, but I’m not a contract lawyer nor do I moonlight as one. I really have no idea. After all, players aren’t getting their full salaries due to emergency clauses in the CBA, so who knows?

Now, it’s fair to assume that this matters less to the Yankees than other teams. They’re the wealthiest team in the sport, after all. They have the largest fanbase and, if the season returns, figure to be in the thick of all the postseason action. But they’re still going to service their Yankee Stadium debt to New York City, for example. The point is that there is a lot of financial uncertainty, even for the Yankees. Will this impact how much money the Yankees allocate to departing players like LeMahieu? It very well could. You could argue it shouldn’t, maybe, but let’s be real: it probably will. We’ve seen it happen in more certain times than this, after all.

Player Evaluation

With that financial uncertainty as a backdrop, the Yankees will have to evaluate LeMahieu through unusual lenses this winter. There are two realistic outcomes here:

  • A Shortened Season: The league plays some number of games, whether it be whether 60, 80, or 120. This injects a ton of sample size noise into the equation, especially if LeMahieu got off to a cold start. A rough 20 games, which is really just 2-3 weeks, can really destroy a stat line in the less optimistic of these outcomes.
  • No Season At All: This is by far the more complicated option. LeMahieu would enter free agency on the back of his best ever season, but without having played at all in over 12 months. Any lingering questions, fair or not, about the role of the ball or just a normal career year will go unaddressed.

Both of those scenarios introduce complications of their own, obviously. I suspect the former is easier to handle. There is still the benefit of past seasons for evaluations as well as internal workouts, etc. That hurts a guy like LeMahieu, though, who changed the entire conversation around his career in 2019. He wants less focus on pre-2019. Ordinarily, he’d get the chance to further distance himself from sub-par seasons. Not so anymore.

Say he struggles in 2020 but it’s only 60 games. This being a business, you’d have to imagine the Yankees using that against him in any 2021 contract negotiations even if they know it’s unfair. This is less of a concern if he hits the cover off the ball again, but that puts a lot of pressure on him to not slump at all. It’s weird.

As for the second option, well, it’s even weirder. I really don’t know how teams would handle this, especially for older players like LeMahieu. (Remember, he’ll turn 33 in the middle of the 2021 season.) There are just so many factors to consider. The best parallel, I guess, is a player getting hurt and missing a season before free agency, but that’s not right either. That often results in a pillow contract – think Dellin Betances – and that feels like something that wouldn’t happen to LeMahieu, obviously. He’s due for a raise. The question is just how big of a raise, and determining that will be the hard part.

So, What Do You Do?

Right now, I think the Yankees would absolutely offer him the qualifying offer. That should still be the average of the league’s top 125 salaries – around $18 million or so – which is a 50% raise for LeMahieu. He might just accept that, even though it’s just for one year, but I doubt it. The argument would serve as a pillow contract while also providing a raise. It would give him a chance to go earn a bigger contract one year later. On the other hand, he’d be 33-turning-34 at the time, so who knows.

The other thing to consider, though, is the new importance of draft picks. If the league shortens the draft to just 5 rounds, picks are much more valuable. In other words, offering a QO and attaching a draft pick to a player makes the cost of signing that player a bit higher. Normally, I’d scoff at that. A good team should never let a comp pick stop them from signing a good player like LeMahieu…but there’s much more uncertainty now. It could be a deterrent, especially if other teams are further constricting their budget due to the economic climate.

We also have to consider that teams may be less willing to spend big on the free agent market due to this climate, too. That may reduce LeMahieu’s market power, too, and drive him right back into the Yankees’ arms. LeMahieu, as good as he was in 2019, isn’t like Anthony Rendon or even Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. He has many more question marks already, let alone the broader question marks facing the league. It’s unfortunate for him.


All in all, though, this gets a big shrug from me right now. I really have no idea. There’s so much that could happen between now and then. I mean, maybe he comes out and is extremely productive again if and when games start. That’s the ideal situation for everyone, obviously. The good news is that all of this uncertainty may just make a reunion between the Yankees and 2019’s most dependable player even more likely.

There’s a New Agreement for the 2020 Season. Here’s What It Means for the Yankees.

If we get any baseball in 2020, which is still very much an open question, the season is going to be much different than any we’ve ever seen before. That’s not just because of the fact it will be considerably shorter. Last night, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the League and the Player’s Association agreed to a new deal that will dictate the terms of the 2020 season.

As expected, the agreement has implications for the Major League season as well as major ramifications for the MiLB system as well. I broke this up into two main parts: a bird’s-eye view what it entails and then, this being a Yankee blog, its impact on the team we all care about too much. *Deep breath* Let’s get right into this one.

An Overview of the Agreement

Passan wrote up the agreement today over at ESPN.com, which you can see in full here. I do my best to break it all down in a clear and concise manner here, broken into the two relevant components: the conditions and the impact on the game.

The Conditions

It’s important to note, though, that it’s a conditional agreement. The season will not begin until the following conditions are met:

  • There are no bans on “mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans”;
  • There are no travel restrictions in place in the U.S. or in Canada; and,
  • It is medically safe for players, fans, or staff.

Those are three very prudent, wise, and commendable provisions. They are clearly taking the COVID-19 threat seriously, which is important: a single soccer match in Italy is linked to a mass outbreak. However, it does not bode well for professional baseball in 2020, that’s for sure. I think we all need to recognize that there is a very real chance that there is no season this year.

The good news is that there is an out. The commissioner and the union can consider “the use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible.” Games played in empty stadiums in neutral sites feels like the most likely outcome at this point. It sure feels like this – no matter how logistically challenging it will be – will be possible before all three of the above conditions are met. I’m no doctor nor a public health expert but that’s just my sense, based on everything I’m reading, as of right now. We’ll have to see.

If that’s what happens, it will be weird and unusual, but you know what? I’ll still watch and cheer on the Yanks. I bet you will too – which is exactly why I expect that this will happen. Some TV revenue and no gate is sure as hell better than no TV revenue and no gate. So, yeah.

What it Means for the Game

Anyway, with all of that out of the way, here’s a bulleted list of what we know so far, most of which tracks with what we knew on Wednesday:

  • Players are guaranteed a full year of service time even if the season is cancelled;
  • There will be a complete transaction freeze (no trades, signings, and roster moves), but MiLB players are still able to lose their jobs;
  • The union will not sue for complete salaries;
  • The league will pay $170 million in advance payment to players, which will be divided among players among four classes, with those with guaranteed MLB contracts getting top priority;
  • The arbitration system is being reworked to account for a shorter season;
  • Both sides are open to playing into November (which means regular season games in October);
  • The draft is being moved from June to July, though may be shortened to as few as five rounds;
  • The draft allotment didn’t increase, and drafted players will only receive up to $100,000 in 2020, with the rest of their bonus delayed until July 2021 and ’22;
  • Teams cannot trade draft picks or international bonus money;
  • The 2020 international signing period can be delayed, with the latest period stretching from Jan. 1, 2021 to December 15, 2021; and,
  • Drug suspensions will be for 2020 only, so players will be eligible to return in 2021.

So, that is a lot, obviously. There’s still a bit of fluidity over the situation and they’re even considering expanding the playoff pool from 10 to 14 teams. A lot will happen between now and getting on the field, that’s for sure.

There are a two top-line takeaways from all of this, though. The first is that this is a good sign: the service time issue was obviously the biggest obstacle, so it’s good to see the two sides reach an agreement there. (It’s weird to consider that Mookie Betts may become a free agent without ever suiting up for the Dodgers, but I like this agreement.) There is also still one more major obstacle, as it leaves undetermined what happens if a player tests positive. That happened today in Japan and will be inevitable here, too. This is a major one, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

As Passan and others have noted, this clears a major hurdle. We’re a step closer to real baseball, in a way, than we were yesterday. Still, though, there are worries with the agreement. Baseball-Prospectus’ Craig Goldstein outlined those very well here; check that out for more details.

The second is that this deal leaves MiLB players, high school and college prospects, and MiLB teams out to dry. Bonuses are smaller and are also delayed. The draft is shorter. Short-season and rookie ball level teams may get contracted as a result. The Player’s Association, which does not represent MiLB players, sacrificed them to reach a deal here. That’s just the way it is. No use denying it.

Impact on the Yankees

So that’s the deal and what it says for now. It’s obviously pretty incomplete and more will come as we learn more about the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact. For now, though, there’s a lot to say about how this impacts the Yanks, even beyond what I wrote the other day. I’m sure there are other implications than these, but here’s a good start:

1. Making the Playoffs Got Easier: The Yankees should have been a playoff team anyway, but the road to October got a lot easier if the pool is expanded to 14 teams. Even in the craziness of a 60-game schedule, it’s very hard to imagine the Yankees missing the playoffs in this scenario. (That’s especially true given the fact that the team should be healthy again by the new Opening Day.) Hooray for that!

2. Luis Severino Misses Fewer Games Now: I joked about this on Twitter, but given the conditions outlined above, there’s a chance that this season just doesn’t happen at all. That would mean that Luis Severino, who went under the knife a few weeks ago, would miss very few MLB games with Tommy John. It’ll be like the injury and surgery never even happened!Silver linings, folks. We gotta look for them in these dark times.

3. Neutral Site Games: If the league moves to neutral site games, the Yankees will lose their considerable home field advantage. The Yankees are really, really good in the Bronx. Since the team’s 2017 renaissance, there have been 243 regular season games played in the Boogie Down. The Yanks have won 161 of them for a .663 winning percentage. That’s a 107-win pace over a normal 162-game season, which is very good. I’m sure the Yankees will be fine no matter where they play, but losing home field for a season would be a blow for the Yanks. No doubt about it.

4. Service Time and the Yankees: The biggest impact this will have is definitely on the players, especially those who are set to become (or could become) free agents after this season. That list includes:

  • James Paxton: The 31-year-old lefty is set to become a free agent for the first time after this season. It’s hard to know what effect a shutdown or delay will have on his free agency, but I doubt it helps. That’s especially true if the season is canceled. It’s hard to imagine a favorable market for him considering his age, injury history, and the fact that he won’t be able to build off his second-half success last year. This would also be an unfortunate resolution to this trade from the Yankees’ side.
  • Masahiro Tanaka: The thought of Tanaka never throwing another pitch for the Yankees after Game 4 of the ALCS last year simply makes me too sad to seriously consider, but it’s a distinct possibility now. I always thought a marriage between the two sides was the most likely outcome, but now. it feels even more likely. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Tanaka in pinstripes.
  • DJ LeMahieu: DJ is a very weird case now, especially if the season doesn’t happen. He’ll be a free agent after his career year…but a whole year will have passed in between. He’d be one of the most fascinating cases to watch from an intellectual point of view.
  • Giancarlo Stanton: It was unlikely anyway, but it’s almost impossible to imagine Stanton opting out now, no matter what happens in the season. Virtually no scenario imaginable now – even if he dominates – in which Stanton is not a Yankee for the duration of this contract.
  • Brett Gardner: This could be the end for Gardner. There’s now a real chance that we never get to give the longest-tenured Yank a proper send-off.
  • Zack Britton: He’s another weird case. Britton was very good in 2018 and 2019, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30. Who knows what his market will be like?

5. Domingo Germán’s Suspension: According to Joel Sherman, Germán will have to serve the remaining 63 games of the suspension this year. I imagine that clock starts ticking once the season resumes. If it doesn’t happen at all, the league will count the suspension as served. So that’s interesting.

6. Short-Season MiLB Teams: This could be the end of the Staten Island Yankees and Pulaski Yankees. JJ Cooper has a pretty good explanation why:

Remember, these teams exist in a state of uncertainty right now anyway. The new system now represents an existential threat for these teams. It’s too bad. I hope this is not the end of the line for these guys.

7. International Signing Period/Slots: Finally, not being able to acquire new international signing money really hurts the Yanks, who have used international free agency to fill out their farm system. They’e also made numerous trades to acquire more space – remember the Adam Warren trade? – and signed major free agents like Jasson Dominguez in this period. This new agreement removes a major tool from the Yankees’ toolbox.

(Another) Lost Opportunity for Clint Frazier

Embed from Getty Images

Before the coronavirus outbreak struck, Clint Frazier was in line for an Opening Day job in the Yankees’ outfield. Various injuries cleared a spot for his taking. But now that the season is on hold, Frazier looks like the odd man out whenever (or if) play resumes.

Just to be clear, I know that Clint’s situation isn’t necessarily important in the grand scheme of things. The magnitude of COVID-19 is jarring. That said, I can’t help but feel bad for Frazier given the circumstances. After spending time in Triple-A in each of the last four years, there’s a good chance he returns to Scranton once again. A fifth straight summer in Scranton Is Not What You Want as a 25 year-old former top prospect. Especially one whose bat appears big league ready.

If he was with any other team, Red Thunder probably would have a big league gig. Sure, his defense has been pretty bad, but his offensive numbers have earned him a shot. He’s a lifetime .254/.308/.463 (102 OPS+) in the majors, though he owns a 111 OPS+ in the last two seasons. At Triple-A, he’s hit .262/.333/.463 in 934 plate appearances. Perhaps more offense was projected when he was a prospect, but he also hasn’t had an extended big league chance. Still, he’s had some good swings:

Of course, this isn’t the first time something’s gotten in Frazier’s way. The big thing: the concussion and subsequent issues related to it in 2018. Clint played in just 69 games in the minors and majors combined that year. He actually hit well when available, but his health situation cost him severely. Frazier would have had a legitimate chance to take Brett Gardner’s job by the end of 2018. Remember, Gardy struggled mightily toward the end of ’18, which would have been the perfect opportunity for Clint to take the reigns. Alas.

2019 should have been a clean slate for Frazier, but of course it didn’t work out that way. Fielding was the big issue, of course. Frankly, his play in the outfield was horrific. To be fair though, who knows how grounded he felt in the field? It’s pure speculation, but the fear of suffering another concussion may have affected him. Now, he was not supposed to be some superb defender in the first place. Rather, no one anticipated him being perhaps the worst in the league. That leads me to believe that he was timid following his health scares in 2018. I think that’s understandable.

Even though it appears that Frazier may be out of luck already in 2020, it unfortunately could get worse. If you’re really pessimistic and think no baseball will be played this year, what happens to Clint’s lone remaining minor league option? This is the sort of thing the league is trying to sort out with the players’ union. I’m sure at some point this season, even if he started the year in the majors, the Yankees would have exhausted his last option. That means he’d have had a chance with the Yankees or a new club in 2021. But if there’s no season, does that last option survive for 2021? That would mean potentially another stint in Triple-A. Oof.

Again, the crummy situation Clint is in doesn’t compare to what the world is going through right now. Still, it really stinks for him. He finally seemed to have a real chance to play this season, even if it was a result of losing two of the Yankees’ best players in Judge and Stanton. Now, who knows when Frazier will get his next chance to prove himself at the highest level.

The case for Clarke Schmidt

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Spring training is far from over. There are still more rounds of roster cuts coming, but the fact that Clarke Schmidt is still around is one of camp’s positive developments. He’s probably a long shot for the open fifth starter role, but as long as he’s still with the big leaguers, he’ll remain in consideration.

When camp opened, it was a foregone conclusion that Schmidt would be down in Triple-A or Double-A to start the season. Then, we learned that Luis Severino needed Tommy John surgery, which created another opening in the rotation. It’s a deep competition that includes pitchers already on the 40-man like Michael King and Jonathan Loáisiga along with non-roster invitees with major league experience in Chad Bettis and Nick Tropeano. In spite of the many names he’d need to leapfrog, there’s reason to believe that Schmidt is the Yankees’ best option.

Schmidt’s risk-reward profile is enticing

Via Lucas Apostoleris

The Yankees won’t be able to replace the production that Severino and Paxton would have offered. But let me ask you this: of all the guys in camp, who do you think has the best chance of coming the closest right now? My money’s on Schmidt.

Unlike guys like King, Bettis, or Tropeano, Schmidt has significant upside. So do other competitors like Loáisiga and Deivi García, of course. That said, there’s a case for Loáisiga fitting better in the bullpen. Meanwhile, Deivi is still just 20 and stumbled a little bit in his first taste of Triple-A. Schmidt may not be as close to the majors (just 19 innings in Double-A), but given his age (24) and apparent poise, would it surprise anyone to see him break out?

Now, I expect the Yankees to roll with King or an opener (Chad Green paired with Jonathan Loaisiga, perhaps). And that’s fine! Before injuries last year, King seemed ready to be a fifth starter already. Moreover, we know how good Green was in the opener role. Yet, neither of these routes are terribly exciting. King has a high floor, but it’s hard to imagine the sinkerballer being much more than a serviceable back-end starter. We know Green was great as an opener last year, but it’d be nice to have him in a bullpen role exclusively. I’d prefer the Yankees avoiding a bullpen day every fifth game in the early going –it’s a marathon, not a sprint, after all.

Schmidt would be so much more fun and the Yankees are well-positioned to roll the dice with him. Even with the team’s myriad of injuries, projections quite easily favor the Yankees in the AL East. Per PECOTA, the Bombers are still roughly nine wins better than the Rays. It’s only a four win difference at FanGraphs, however. Keep in mind that neither of those depth charts account for Schmidt at the moment.

It’s not like the Yankees have to commit to Schmidt all year, obviously. If he bombs his first two starts, they can swiftly option him to the minors. No harm, no foul. Two starts won’t make up the difference between the Yankees and Rays true talent levels. On the flip side, if Schmidt is up to task, the Yankees can create even more separation. Likely more than someone like King could offer.

Service time considerations

Future free agency eligibility should be the last thing on the Yankees mind, especially for Schmidt. He’s 24 years old, meaning he won’t hit the open market until he’s 30, at the earliest. Whether he’s a free agent by 30 or 31 should not matter.

Besides, being with the team on Opening Day doesn’t mean he’s going to be with the team all season. There’s a pretty strong chance he’d get sent down later in the year anyway. Barring any other injuries or setbacks, things could crowd out Schmidt when Paxton and Domingo Germán return.

On the flipside, if Schmidt performs right away and the Yankees want to keep him around all year: great! That’s the best case scenario. Sure, it means free agency for Schmidt after the 2025 season instead of 2026, but again, who cares? The Yankees should try to run out the best team it has now.

There’s precedent

Even though Jordan Montgomery was a non-roster invitee in 2017, he made the Yankees’ rotation out of spring training that season. Schmidt’s in precisely the same position this year. There was no expectation for Schmidt to actually be in the rotation mix when he was invited to camp, but now he’s fully thrust himself in the conversation. I think the same could be said about Monty in ’17. He seemed ticketed to Triple-A.

Now, there are differences between Schmidt’s situation and Montgomery in 2017. Primarily, Montgomery was a bit more advanced at the time than Schmidt is today. In 2016, Gumby threw more than 100 innings in Double-A before finishing the year with 37 more frames at Triple-A. Meanwhile, Schmidt has only 19 innings in Double-A, total. In other words, the jump from the minors to the bigs was not very dramatic for Montgomery, whereas it would be a big leap for Schmidt.

Despite minor league track record differences, there are a lot of similarities between the two pitchers. Montgomery was 24 that camp, as is Schmidt now. Both were early round college pitcher draftees (both from University of South Carolina, in fact). Both are top prospects with plenty of fans within the organization.

Montgomery pitched well in camp in 2017 (3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 innings). Baseball Reference has a nifty tool to see opponent quality in spring training, but unfortunately, it looks like they wipe prior year spring training stats, so we can’t compare Monty to Schmidt this year. That said, Jordan’s first four appearances that spring all were in relief against primarily minor leaguers before he made two starts to close out camp.

Meanwhile, Schmidt has an OppQual of 6.7, which is slightly below Double-A caliber hitters. He’s thrown seven innings and allowed two runs, recorded eight strikeouts, and walked three. Spring training numbers are never worth taking much meaning from anyway, and unfortunately the same for Schmidt in spite of pitching well. Still, it’s not like Monty really got a shot against big leaguers until later in camp in 2017. Schmidt deserves a similar opportunity.


Merits aside, Schmidt winning the job coming out of camp would be fun. I think we could all use a little fun now, right? To see the 2019 injury bug carry over into 2020 is incredibly irritating. Bringing Schmidt into the fold right away would bring some added excitement to early season action.

I know that having Schmidt start the season in Double-A is the safe move for his development. After all, he’s still building up his workload after the Yankees drafted him in 2017 knowing he had Tommy John surgery rehab ahead. He hardly pitched in 2018 and barely topped 90 innings last year. Perhaps it’s better to follow standard operating procedure here. The Yankees know better than me, a stupid blogger, after all.

Frankly, whether it’s Schmidt or someone else isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. We should see Schmidt in the Bronx at some point before season’s end (he needs to be added to the 40-man before the offseason, anyway). King or some sort of opener/tandem starter should work just fine until Paxton returns. I just yearn for a little more excitement.

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