Reviewing the Yankees’ 2020 Projections: PECOTA

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Steamer and ZiPS have had their days in the sun, but today, it’s PECOTA‘s turn. In continuation of our series reviewing the Yankees’ projections, let’s take a look at Baseball Prospectus’s projection system du jour.

Betting the over

Hitter: PECOTA is definitely the projection system lowest on Gleyber Torres. It still gives him a solid forecast — .257/.323/.464 with 28 homers in 595 plate appearances (111 DRC+, 2.9 WARP) — but that seems very beatable. Such a performance would be a step down from his career 123 DRC+, and I can’t imagine predicting the 23 year-old to regress at this point of his career. On the bright side, Torres’s top comps is pretty nice: Carlos Correa.

Pitcher: I feel like projection systems are sleeping on Adam Ottavino, PECOTA included. Now, PECOTA isn’t quite as low as Steamer is, but I expect better than a 3.49 ERA and 4.01 DRA for Otto. As I wrote in the Steamer post, it’s pretty clear that these systems are very conservative on the right-handed reliever because of his high walk rates.

Betting the under

Hitter: Kyle Higashioka is in line for the backup catcher role this year, and by PECOTA’s evaluation, he’ll be pretty good at it. BP’s system doesn’t have a spectacular offensive projection by any means (89 DRC+), but does foresee a bit of power (9 homers in 175 plate appearances). Much of Higashioka’s 1.3 WARP projection is tied to his defense (+8 FRAA), as expected. My expectation: he won’t hit quite that well. He has a nice minor league track record offensively, but playing sporadically will make things a little more difficult for him and I just don’t see a 31 homers per 600 plate appearances pace.

Pither: I can’t see Domingo Germán recording a 3.47 ERA in 2020, which is what PECOTA forecasts. His 4.48 projected DRA is a bit worse and seemingly more reasonable, but I find it very difficult to be that high on a pitcher’s run prevention skills after he surrendered 30 homers in 143 innings last year. PECOTA also has German pitching more often in relief (34 games, 8 starts) which perhaps accounts for a lower ERA, though it’s anyone’s guess as to what role Germán plays when his suspension for domestic violence ends.

Push

Hitter: I picked DJ LeMahieu for the over against Steamer and could have done so again with ZiPS. But when it comes to PECOTA, things look much more sensible from my perspective. PECOTA projects DJLM to be the Yankees’ best position player (5.2 WARP) and expects him to slash .303/.359/.456 (119 DRC+) with 16 HR in 595 PA. Perhaps there’s a little more power in there than that, but I’m not going to quibble with this projection.

Pitcher: Sign me up for Luis Severino’s PECOTA. A 3.19 ERA and 2.9 WARP in 156 innings? Yes, please. Sure, a little more in terms of innings would be nice, but better to be safe than sorry after a lost 2019.

Biggest Surprises

Hitter: Last year, I wrote about Luke Voit’s terrific preseason PECOTA projection for BP. It was an eye opening forecast for a hitter with a limited, abeit terrific, major league track record. This year, Mike Ford has virtually the same preseason forecast under similar circumstances. It expects Ford to slash .255/.342/.502 (126 DRC+) with 12 dingers in 210 plate appearances after a 125 DRC+ in 2019. Voit wound up falling short of his 2019 projection (118 actual vs. 128 projected DRC+), but much of that was due to injury.

Pitcher: I can’t say I expect much from Jordan Montgomery this year. However, PECOTA foresees a solid first full season back from Tommy John surgery. In 89 innings, it calls for 1.0 WARP buoyed by a 3.48 ERA and 4.58 DRA. The DRA projection looks reasonable, but the ERA is much lower than I anticipated.

Personal Favorites

Hitter: Has Luke Voit’s second half slump resulted in some people sleeping on the first baseman? That’s my impression, at least. Bobby dispelled that in Voit’s season review, and now PECOTA reminds us that Voit is still potent at the dish. The first baseman is projected to bat .263/.354/.471 with 25 bombs in 560 plate appearances. That’s good for a 119 DRC+ and 2.0 WARP.

Pitcher: PECOTA adores Chad Green. He didn’t start off 2019 so hot, but he was excellent down the stretch after returning from a minor league stint. In 2020, PECOTA says we can expect Green (68 DRC-) to be the Yankees’ best reliever not named Aroldis Chapman (66 DRC-). In 65 innings, PECOTA projects Green to post a 2.66 ERA and 3.33 DRA. Should he hit those marks, it would be Green’s best season since he burst onto the scene in 2017.

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2 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    Definitely over on Gleyber. He’s young, talented, and hasn’t hit his peak yet.Even if the ball is de-juiced some in 2020, his rapid learning curve will keep him among the elite young hitters in the game. Voit will exceed his projections. Ford will come under his. You may be right on Higashioka. It took Romine several years to adapt to the BUC role. Higgy may have the same issue, but his glove should be fine. And as sad as it is to say, I’ll take the under on DJLM. I see him as more of a league-average hitter in 2020 with very good defense. He’ll be valuable, but not the potent bat we saw last year. I’m leaning more toward his career numbers than his 2019 numbers.

  2. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    Whether it’s Steamer or Zips or PECOTA or Shadow Inc these companies always get everything wrong, Derek, so I wouldn’t trust anything they say. Why not just wait until the season starts and see how these players perform with your own eyes. I know that’s an antiquated concept but I just worry we’re turning the game into a battle of dweebs sitting in their mom’s basement eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew all day. Michael Lewis is already writing a book about it.

    There’s no way Gleyber hits .258 and less than 30 HR’s. This is a superstar hitter. He’ll be around .300 and 30+ HR”s. The one player these fake news stats did get right is Ottavino. He looks liked garbage in the postseason and that’s indicative of the pitcher that is is.

    I’d never bet the under when it came to Higgy. He’s going to surprise a lot of people this year. He’ll hit 10-15 dingers and give us an elite glove behind the plate. The cries for him to be the starting C will start early and will be led by me. Domingo will have another solid year. He proved himself to be an ace last year. I think the suspension was unwarranted but he’ll serve his time and has a puncher’s chance to make the All Star team.

    DJ won’t hit less than .320 and has a real shot at chasing .400. Sevy’s ERA will sit in the 2’s all year.

    They’re right to be high on Ford. He’s a modern day Cecil Fielder and if he just ate a few more hot dogs the Babe Ruth comparisons would begin. I don’t think Green will have a sub 3 ERA season if they keep using him in that opener role. All that did was tire him out in October. Keep him in the 6th-7th innings and he’ll be like Hughes in ’09 or BGDP in ’12.

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