INF Gio Urshela underwent surgery today to remove a bone chip from his right elbow. The procedure was performed by Yankees Head Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital & went as expected. Urshela’s anticipated recovery time from surgery is 3 months.
Fortunately, the timing isn’t all that bad here. Urshela’s timeline puts him on track to return in the middle of Spring Training. If his rehab goes according to plan, he’ll still be the team’s Opening Day third baseman. Get well soon, Gio.
I think it’s safe to say that Gio Urshela is a star, no? Since joining the Yankees, Urshela owns a 132 wRC+ in 650 plate appearances and has racked up betwen 5 and 6 WAR, depending on your WAR version of choice. He’s a testament to the Yankees’ incredible ability to unearth and/or develop talent. He may have turned 29 last month and is something of a late bloomer, but it certainly looks like he’s here to stay. Let’s get into his brief but terrific 2020 campaign.
No offensive regression
Urshela’s 2019 performance didn’t feel like a fluke to me, but at the same time, I expected some regression this season. There were a couple of things pointing to a step back, namely a .349 BABIP and a wOBA .016 points higher than his xwOBA. Even so, the underlying batted ball metrics were really good, so I expected another solid season. So when Gio posted a 133 wRC+ after he recorded a 132 mark a year ago, it was certainly a pleasant surprise.
If it feels incredibly early to start thinking about 2021 projections, that’s because it is. Last year, we started this series in January. This year, we get an early start merely as a result of the ZiPS projections for the Yankees last week. It just so happens that the Yankees were on the early end of FanGraphs’ release schedule this time around. Of course, the roster will change by spring training. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t peek at how things stand right now.
The graphic adds up to +49 WAR. That’s a 97 to 99 win team, keeping in mind that a replacement level club is said to win between 48 and 50 games. Adding up the WAR is incredibly dumb far more often than not, and I must say that calling the current Yankees club a near-100 win team seems like a stretch. That’s without DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton, after all. I guess it speaks to this team’s high-end talent.
Similar to last year, I’m going to call out some notable projections. Ones that I think sell the player short, ones that are too aggressive for my taste, ones that feel just right, and some surprises. Let’s get to it:
Betting the over
Hitter: Gio Urshela has hit .310/.358/.523 (133 OPS+) with 27 homers in 650 plate appearances since joining the Yankees. ZiPS, however, doesn’t seem quite ready to fully buy in on the 29 year-old third baseman. The system projects a triple-slash of .283/.331/.459 (110 OPS+) and 18 homers in 508 plate appearances. A good offensive projection, but I presume that ZiPS is scarred by Urshela’s pre-Yankees offensive performance. Urshela might regress a little bit, but there’s nothing that indicates him taking as big of a step back as ZiPS estimates. Not only have Urshela’s results been good, but he’s made mechnical adjustments and is a Statcast darling. This is an easy over for me.
It’s been a pretty quiet week for the Yankees, but that’s to be expected. Teams aren’t supposed to make noise during the World Series, which is supposed to be front and center in the baseball world right now. Speaking of, the Rays and Dodgers are even at one a piece in the series ahead of tonight’s Game 3.
Even though the team has been quiet, there are a few things worth relaying on the Yankees’ front. Here’s the rundown:
Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier are Gold Glove Award finalists
It’s important to note that as a result of regionalized schedules this season, there is no voting on these awards in 2020. Rather, statistics alone will determine the winner. It’s not clear what those metrics used to decide are, though.
At third base, Urshela is up against Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Rangers) and Yoan Moncada (White Sox). Here’s a statistical comparison of the three:
Only Kiner-Falefa ranks positively per Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating, and Oats Above Average. I guess that makes him the favorite? I don’t know.
Game 4 is just a few hours away and the Yankees are in a position that appeared unforeseeable after Monday’s victory. Sentiments sure can change quickly in October, huh? I bet we’d all be pretty fired up about tomorrow if the Yankees can top the Rays tonight. With that, I have a few things I want to discuss before first pitch.
We have all winter to discuss the future of this team. I’m not denying that these last two losses have been dreadful to watch, but there’s no reason to act like this series is over. Do the Yankees have their work cut out for them? Yes. It’s not going to be easy to overcome a 2-1 deficit. At the same time, it’s not an impossible task.
It’s natural to start forward-thinking at this stage. I’m guilty of that myself; offseason scenarios have already begun to cross my mind. There are obvious needs, namely pitching depth, that the Yankees have to address this winter. Frankly, they should have addressed them at the trade deadline. But again, that’s neither here nor there. The Yankees are still alive, even with lackluster performances on the mound from everyone not named Gerrit Cole compounded by highly questionable strategies. Until the clock actually strikes midnight on the Yankees, I’m going to save my energy on the future of this team or lament about what the team didn’t do for the 2020 roster. Let’s save that for the long and cold winter.
Giancarlo Stanton has been amazing, but let’s also show Aaron Hicks some love. Stanton’s getting a ton of attention for turning this postseason into a home run derby of his own, and deservedly so. It’s really nice to hear all of his detractors shut up for once. He is one of the greatest hitters in the sport and is delivering when the Yankees need it. I take joy in dancing on the grave of horrible takes like the following, but I also never want to see something like this again:
5/LeMahieu at 1b, Voit at DH and no Stanton. I cannot see Boone not playing a healthy Stanton. But the overall ABs and certainly the defense is better that way.
Anyway, I’d like to spend some time highlighting Aaron Hicks’s excellent series. Believe it or not, Hicks (+3.03 percent) has a higher championship probability added than Stanton (+1.88 percent) in the ALDS. Game level win probability is a bit closer, with Hicks at 0.29 to Stanton’s 0.22.