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Mailbag: Aaron Judge extension, Hicks in center, Gardner rumors

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It doesn’t feel like baseball season in New York this morning, but Opening Day is merely ten days away. Exciting stuff! But seriously, I thought we were done with winter weather. This cold spurt will be long gone come April 7th, which currently has a forecast in the low 60s (yay) with showers (gulp).

Today marks the return of the mailbag from a long hiatus. As always, you can send your mailbag questions to viewsfrom314@gmail.com. We’ll [try] to answer them every Monday. Now, let’s get to this week’s edition:

An Obligatory Preseason Lineup Post

As obligatory as a post about the lineup, so is the following statement. Overall, lineup construction doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you really screw it up. We may not be Aaron Boone’s biggest fans here, but we know he’s not going to hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa leadoff and Aaron Judge ninth. Still, it’s a fun thing to muse about and when there isn’t any real action to dissect yet, it’s a good thought exercise.

This one in particular was brought on by the lineup the Yankees put out in their Spring Training matchup with the Blue Jays yesterday:

For one reason or another, one I couldn’t entirely place and really still can’t, I liked the top-6 of that lineup, not just the players, but the way they were ordered. I’d probably flip DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, however, and the addition of Anthony Rizzo would necessitate those previous two moving down. Putting Rizzo in there means it’s the full strength lineup. Here’s how I’d order them.

Fun with ZiPS

On Thursday, Derek took a look at the Yankees’ 2022 ZiPS projections. Today, let’s do something similar and have some fun–since there’s very little fun to be had in the baseball world these days–and run these projections through an old friend: the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis Tool.

For those unfamiliar, the concept is simple. You drop in player names and their OBP and SLG numbers and the tool spits out a bunch of lineup permutations to see which one is the best. Now, the models that the tool uses are a little outdated and it isn’t foolproof, but, like I said, it’s fun! I’ll use the 1959-2004 model to cover more dates, get more of a variety of run environments in there.

First, let’s roll with players currently on the Yankees, so we’ll exclude Anthony Rizzo and Brett Gardner. The lineup will look like this (OBP/SLG):

C: Gary Sanchez (.304/.432)

1B: Luke Voit (.342/.468)

2B: DJLM (.344/.402)

SS: Gleyber Torres (let’s just roll with it for now; I’ll play with other versions later) (.332/.426)

3B: Gio Urshela (.318/.458)

LF: Joey Gallo (.352/.507)

CF: Aaron Hicks (.340/.400)

RF: Aaron Judge (.369/.538)

DH: Giancarlo Stanton (.338/.491)

Assuming the batting order is as follows, this team should score 5.257 runs per game, about 852 over the course of the season:

  1. DJLM
  2. Judge
  3. Gallo
  4. Stanton
  5. Voit
  6. Urshela
  7. Hicks
  8. Torres
  9. Sanchez

The best possible lineup–5.293 runs per game, 857 per 162 is:

  1. DJLM
  2. Judge
  3. Voit
  4. Gallo
  5. Stanton
  6. Sanchez
  7. Torres
  8. Urshela
  9. Hicks

Even without any upgrades at the plate, the Yankees figure to be a good hitting team. Granted, we thought that last year…but I doubt they’ll be as shaky as last year and that the team will be as it is above. So let’s get frisky and do some wishcasting on this roster.

Last night, someone asked me, while I was tweeting from the Views account, what I want the infield to look like in 2022. I said I’d want Matt Olson at first, Carlos Correa at short, with DJLM at second and Gio at third. Let’s keep the rest of the team the same and fit that infield into the tool (while remembering that the Correa and Olson projections wouldn’t be adjusted for being Yankees). If that were the case, I assume the lineup would be:

  1. DJLM
  2. Judge
  3. Olson
  4. Stanton
  5. Gallo
  6. Correa
  7. Urshela
  8. Hicks
  9. Sanchez

That lineup would average 5.448 per game, 882 over 162. The best possible lineup with those projections would be

  1. Correa
  2. Judge
  3. Stanton
  4. Olson
  5. Gallo
  6. Sanchez
  7. Hicks
  8. Urshela
  9. DJLM

Is any of that going to happen? It’s highly unlikely! But it’s still fun to think about. Next time, I’ll revisit this with some other players plugged in and fool around with positions and playing time. Until then, be well and hope this owner-enforced lockout gets resolved.

Disappointments and Decisions: The Injured Position Players [2021 Season Review]

The pre-colon part of that title reads like the title of a The Starting Line song, doesn’t it? My trashy pop-punk tastes aside, let’s dive into the unfortunate muck that was the unfortunate 2021 season for Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit, Clint Frazier, and Miguel AndĂşjar.

Before we talk about the recent past of this season, let’s look back to the less recent past of the beginning of this season. Going into 2021, all four of these players were expected to have big roles with the Yankees. Three of them–Hicks, Frazier, and Voit–were expected to be season-long starters. And while Miggy wasn’t penciled into the starting lineup, he was expected to force playing time with his bat. Then, none of them ended up playing more than 68 games or amassed more than 241 plate appearances (both distinctions go to Luke Voit).

Thoughts on clubhouse leaks and offseason needs

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With Houston’s 7-2 victory over Atlanta in Game 2 last night, the World Series is level at 1-1. I was hoping Atlanta would win, and not because it’s the Astros. Rather, because it would be fun to remind everyone what happened the last time they were up 2-0 in the Fall Classic and headed home for Games 3 through 5.

Ah, yes, that’s the stuff. But hey, at least we can remind everyone that the last time there were World Series games in the state of Georgia (1999), the Yankees also took care of business.

Anyway, I’ve come around to accepting the possibility of the Astros winning the title this year. Obviously, it was never my first choice coming into October, but I’ll be able to be happy for Dusty Baker if his club pulls this off. He absolutely deserves a ring with his body of work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m openly rooting for the Astros, but the world won’t end if they do win it all.

So, with that, allow me to share some of my Yankees-related thoughts. A lot of this is going to be about a certain article that you presumably read (or read snippets of) this week, so brace yourselves. I’m not going to link to it here, but if you really want to look for it, it’s not hard to find.

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