Overall, PECOTA projects the Yankees to rack up 42.6 WARP, second-most in MLB behind the Dodgers (50.6). The next closest team in the American League is Houston at 40.0. In the division, Tampa Bay projects for 32.8, Toronto 29.6, Boston 28.2, and Baltimore 12.7. The Yankees are the clear AL East favorites, to no surprise.
Of the Yankees’ 42.6 WARP, 26.8 come from positional players and 15.8 come from the pitching staff. That position player total ranks third in the league behind the Dodgers (33.3) and Astros (28.0). The Yankees’ projection on the mound is fifth-best in MLB, trailing the Padres (19.9), Dodgers (17.4), Brewers (17.0), and Mets (16.2).
With that out of the way, I’m going to highlight some notable projections on the Yankees. Let’s get to it.
Betting the over
Hitters: I usually pick one hitter and one pitcher in each category, but I’m going to cheat here and choose two: Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela:
I think Stanton’s projected batting average and power output is bearish. That .235 batting average forecast seems to drag down his line as a whole, and considering that he’s a lifetime .268 hitter (.266 with the Yankees), I’d expect something a bit higher. Meanwhile, PECOTA projects just a homer every 19 plate appearances, more than his career mark of one per every 16. I just find it hard to believe he finishes with just 27 homers if he accumulates over 500 plate appearances.
Next, PECOTA clearly isn’t ready to buy into Urshela’s bat. This, in spite of Urshela posting 121 and 125 DRC+ marks in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Maybe there’s some regression coming, but Gio surely looks for real.
BP just ranked Schmidt 96th on its Top 101 Prospects list, but PECOTA doesn’t see him as a big contributor this season. We’ve heard a tad about Schmidt having some control issues at times, so it’s not a total surprise that the system spits out a 10 percent forecasted walk rate in 2021. The righty did post a 9 percent walk rate in the minors in 2019 and gave free passes to 5 out of 33 batters faced in 2020. That said, we know he’s got nasty stuff and that he’s very motivated to improve. I like his odds at a breakout this year.
Betting the under
Hitter: I’m going with backup catcher Kyle Higashioka. He has an exciting projection, but that it’s better than Gary Sánchez seems too rosy to me. Let’s compare:
PECOTA has Higgy racking up just 0.2 WARP short of Sánchez in less than half the playing time. That’s a pace over a full season that’s way ahead of what the system thinks Gary will do. Most of that is tied up in the defensive projection, which makes some sense. But at the same time, the two’s hitting projection is nearly equal. I know Gary was awful in 2020, but I simply do not think Higashioka’s offensive talent is that of (or close to) Sánchez’s. So, I anticipate Higgy to fall short of that offensive forecast.
King was not good in 26.2 innings during 2020. He posted a 7.76 ERA and 5.44 DRA, but clearly, that didn’t scare off PECOTA. I know the righty has posted some strong minor league numbers and has a pretty nasty sinker, but I’m very skeptical of this projection. There’s definitely upside in King’s profile, but I want to see him have some success again before believing once more. Remember, he missed most of 2019 due to a stress reaction in his pitching elbow. It’s been a while since he’s had some sustained success.
PECOTA has liked Voit for a while now. It liked him after his torrent albeit brief run post-acquisition in 2018. It likes him even more now. In fact, by DRC+, it thinks he’ll hit better than he did in 2020 (133 DRC+). Can’t say I disagree.
I think I’m the blog’s biggest Monty fan, even after an up-and-down 2020. In spite of lackluster results, the lefty added velocity, limited hard contact, and had really good peripherals. Some better luck is in order for Montgomery, and PECOTA seems to agree.
This one caught me off guard. Torres was pretty bad defensively last year, and yet, PECOTA pegs Gleyber as a +3 defender. That props his overall WARP because the offensive projection isn’t terribly exciting itself. For me, I’d expect things to be the other way around. Below average defense (but better than 2020!) along with a much better offensive performance than this.
This is a really good projection for someone who’s barely pitched over the last two years. Now, it’s a far cry from peak Kluber, who posted DRA- numbers as low as 49 and no higher than 74 from 2014 through 2018. Still, if this is the type of performance the Klubot delivers in pinstripes, this is a great signing.
Say hello to PECOTA’s third-best player in MLB. That’s right, only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts possess higher WARP projections than LeMahieu.
Like Kluber, this outcome would be a very good result for the Yankees. Taillon hasn’t pitched in a game since the beginning of 2019, and yet, PECOTA isn’t deterred. Taillon brings a career 82 DRA- to New York, so seeing a 4 point dip in spite of a long layoff is encouraging. What’s more: Taillon’s top player comp is — you guessed it — teammate Gerrit Cole. What’s not to like?