Earlier this month, I broke down the Yankees’ 2022 ZiPS projections which are published at FanGraphs. Also on display at FG is Steamer, another projection system that I’ll take a look at today. And once Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA is published, I’ll get to that one as well.
On the whole, Steamer projects the Yankees to accumulate roughly +49 WAR. That’s three more than ZiPS and translates to a high-90s win ballclub as presently constituted. Granted, the process of adding up the WAR is often foolhardy, but it serves as a reminder that the Yankees should still be very good in 2022. Now, to the individual player projections:
Betting the over
Hitter: We often forget how good of a hitter Luke Voit is, don’t we? Granted, he’s struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons, but when he’s on the field, he rakes. The burly first baseman owns a .271/.363/.520 (137 wRC+) in 1,133 plate appearances in pinstripes, so his .249/.338/.465 (120 wRC+) projection from Steamer feels low to me. Yes, I know that Voit posted a 111 wRC+ in 2021 around a multitude of injuries and the Anthony Rizzo trade, so Steamer still foresees a rebound. I just think he’ll do even better, even if that’s not with the Yankees.
Pitcher: I’m torn between three here: I think the projections for Jameson Taillon, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Clay Holmes are too pessimistic. Since I wrote about Loáisiga in my ZiPS piece, I won’t choose him again here. Between Taillon and Holmes, I found Taillon’s projection to be far too low. Steamer expects him to post a 4.68 ERA and 4.65 FIP in 152 innings, which makes little sense to me. Taillon was terrific down the stretch in 2021, and assuming his ankle surgery rehab goes well, I don’t see why he can’t be that caliber pitcher again.
Betting the under
Hitter: Miguel Andújar received a .271/.315/.471 (113 wRC+) from Steamer. Quite good for a guy who’s batted .228/.257/.331 (58 wRC+) in 276 Major League plate appearances since 2019. That terrific 2018 rookie campaign was a long time ago, folks. Hey, hope I’m wrong about this one though.
Pitcher: Going to repeat my pick from the ZiPS post: Aroldis Chapman. Steamer projects the southpaw closer to post a 2.92 ERA and 3.05 FIP, including a significant improvement in home runs allowed. Chappy’s surrendered 1.46 homers per nine since 2020, and yet, Steamer thinks he’ll post a 0.90 mark in 2021. That, Chapman’s age (34), and his wild inconsistency last season, makes me a doubter.
Hitter: Steamer foresees a nice recovery for DJ LeMahieu, and it seems like a reasonable assumption. The system pegs the infielder to hit .285/.354/.421 (115 wRC+), including a solid power rebound (17 homers). I think we’d all sign up for that right now, no? Maybe the power projection is a little rich, but the batting average and on-base percentage expectations look fine to me.
Pitcher: Chad Green‘s projection is fine — a 3.73 ERA and 3.78 FIP in 63 games — but I think some would find that forecast disappointing. Yes, it’s a dip from the 3.12 ERA and 3.59 FIP from 2021 and even better seasons prior. However, I think a decline should be anticipated. Green amassed a career high in innings last season (83.2) and has struggled to develop a second offering to go with his four-seamer over the years. To be clear: I still think he’s a good reliever, but he’s no longer the unicorn from, say, 2017 and 2018.
Hitter: Steamer is prepared for a Gleyber Torres resurgence in 2022. It calls for a .268/.346/.445 (117 wRC+), +3.6 WAR, and 23 homers in 632 plate appearances. Where do I sign?
Pitcher: I didn’t expect Joely Rodríguez‘s projection to sit comfortably ahead of his other lefty reliever counterparts in Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge. It’s not even close: J-Rod has them both beat by roughly 0.40 ERA, along with big advantages in FIP projections. I know Rodríguez is quite good against left handed hitters, but he has a very pronounced platoon split. So does Luetge, to be fair, but he at least can hold his own against righties. Keep in mind that Steamer has similar innings totals for all three (a tad less for Luetge), which implies that J-Rod’s projection isn’t necessarily of a lefty specialist, making this a surprise for me.
Hitter: Aaron Judge (40), Joey Gallo (40), and Giancarlo Stanton (39) are forecasted to swat 119 home runs. Whew, wouldn’t that be fun?
Pitcher: To be honest, I can’t say that I’m loving any of the Steamer pitching projections for the Yankees. There’s no one who has a particularly exciting forecast. Sure, Gerrit Cole‘s 3.29 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 199 innings is terrific, but remember how bullish ZiPS was on Cole? I think by default Cole’s has to be my personal favorite, because it’s really the only particularly good projection that I also find believable.