As we await the daily updates from the league and union’s collective bargaining sessions, the Yankees made some news this morning. The team will retire Paul O’Neill’s no. 21 on August 21, finally putting an end to its unofficial retirement for two decades. That’s a Sunday afternoon game against the Blue Jays. There’s been some consternation about not issuing O’Neill’s number over the years, so if you want to discuss any of this news in the comments, have at it.
This morning’s news aside, today I’m breaking down Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections for the 2022 season, which were released last week. As rosters currently stand, PECOTA envisions a second place finish for the Yankees, projecting a hair under 94 wins, trailing the Blue Jays by a game. Obviously, signing one Freddie Freeman or Carlos Correa would change things. For now though, allow me to break down some of PECOTA’s individual projections on the Yankees’ current roster.
Betting the over
Hitter: If PECOTA is right about Gio Urshela, the Yankees have another infield position to fill. The system foresees Gio to hit .257/.307/.396 (88 DRC+), which would be the worst mark of his career in pinstripes. He posted 116 and 123 DRC+ marks in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Yes, 2021 wasn’t his best year (93 DRC+), but this 2022 projections moves to far toward a decline in my view. Maybe the lack of rocket ball has diminished Urshela’s production, but I see him inching closer to league average production this season.
Pitcher: There’s nothing bad about Jameson Taillon‘s PECOTA projection, but rather, it’s where PECOTA ranks him in terms of the team’s starters. The system pegs Taillon as the rotation’s fifth or sixth best starter, depending on your metric of preference (ERA, FIP, or DRA). Again, nothing wrong with a 3.90 ERA and 99 DRA- projection, but I think he’ll be better than the likes of Nestor Cortes and Domingo Germán at the very least, who are slightly ahead of Taillon according to PECOTA.
Betting the underEmbed from Getty Images
Hitter: If defense wasn’t an issue, PECOTA would have Miguel Andújar start over the aforementioned Urshela at third base. The system doesn’t think Miggy is going to be a great hitter or anything — far from it — but the .264/.310/.422 (95 DRC+) outshines Urshela. Given everything we’ve seen from Andújar post shoulder surgery, I just can’t buy this sort of production at the plate. He’s hit .250/.282/.375 in the majors since 2020.
Pitcher: Domingo Germán received a 3.67 ERA forecast from PECOTA, which would easily be his best mark since his abbreviated 2017 debut. PECOTA foresees improvement in Germán’s home run rate (3.5 percent), which would be a big leap from his 4.7 percent career mark. I just can’t envision Germán getting better at suppressing the long ball, hence my doubt here.
Hitter: It’s not pretty, but it looks right: Gary Sánchez‘s .217/.314/.444 (99 DRC+) PECOTA forecast, along with 25 homers and below average defense feels like quintessential Gary.
Pitcher: Jordan Montgomery‘s projection might be too rosy for some, but I’ve been a believer in the tall lefty for some time. PECOTA projects a 3.55 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 93 DRA- in a tad under 150 innings pitched. In particular, that ERA would be the best of his career. Seems very possible given that he’s right in the middle of his prime (29 years old) and is coming off a very strong 2021.
Biggest Surprise:Embed from Getty Images
Hitter: I was a bit taken aback by PECOTA’s Aaron Judge projection. A .270/.364/.506 (130 DRC+) with 31 homers in 578 plate appearances seemed like a bit of a downer. It is the league’s 14th-best DRC+ projection though (Judge was 12th last year), so it’s not as outlandish as it seems at first glance. On the bright side, PECOTA forecasts a 24.2 percent strikeout rate, which indicates its belief in Judge’s improved bat-to-ball skills. With that in mind, I just wonder why better results elsewhere in his batting line don’t follow.
Pitcher: PECOTA loves Luis Severino. It pegs the righty to record a 2.64 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and 72 DRA- in 2022. I would have expected that for Gerrit Cole (who indeed, has an even better projection). There are only seven starting pitchers with better DRA projections than Severino, and just five with better DRA- forecasts. Is Severino really going to be a top-5 starter in the majors in 2022? I would love to see it, but I have to say I’m a bit skeptical of and surprised about this projection.
Hitter: Hold out some hope for Gleyber Torres. Even after a rough 2020 and 2021, PECOTA sees a rebound this season: .264/.344/.433 (109 DRC+). Perhaps more excitingly, his top three comps are Ketel Marte, Wilmer Flores, and Carlos Correa. OK, Flores is a little odd, but Marte and Correa comps serve as reminders that progression isn’t always linear. Torres is still just 25, and even if he isn’t the star we thought the Yankees had back in 2019, there’s still some promise at the plate.
Pitcher: Nestor Cortes is an above-average pitcher according to PECOTA (98 DRA-), and that should bring everyone a little joy. The projection system has bought into the crafty lefty’s improvements in 2021, which represents another victory for the organization’s player development staff.