Cleat Geeks

The Pinstripe Post; Will the Yankees contend in 2016?

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

The New York Yankees have been making a shift under Hal Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner. As opposed to his father, Hal is running a tighter ship that is not as open to spending money for the sake of scoring headlines and is actually aiming to rein in the checkbook.

Pinstripe Alley made some points:

carlos-beltran“The Yankees are owners of the perhaps most balanced roster in the American League. According to Fangraphs depth chart projections, right field is the only of the eight positions in the field at which the Yankees are expected to receive below average production (in this case, below average can be defined as fewer than 2.0 WAR). Carlos Beltran and company project to only produce about one win in 2016, but the Yankees can expect average or better contributions at every other position. Across the field, the Yankees look competent, ranging from second base (projected 2.0 WAR), to catcher (projected 3.7 WAR). The pitching staff is similarly capable, as the starters are projected to fall anywhere between CC Sabathia (at 1.7 WAR) and Masahiro Tanaka (at 4.1 WAR). The Yankees roster quite clearly seems to be nothing if not solid, even though its apparent best players, in Brian McCann and Tanaka, appear to fall short of being stars.”

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs makes a series of excellent points regarding this. First:

Let’s start with the obvious; the Yankees were contenders last year, so it’s not like they’re trying to bridge some kind of big gap that the 2015 team couldn’t overcome. The Bronx Bombers won 87 games a year ago, and it wasn’t a sequencing-aided fluke; they were an 87 win team by BaseRuns as well. That they made the Wild Card game wasn’t some kind of happy accident

Photo by: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

This is an important point. The Yankees finished second to Toronto, a team that lost David Price this off-season. While Price had a 6.4 WAR in 2015 according to Fangraphs, he’s only projected to have a 4.9 WAR with the Boston Red Sox, who finished in last. The Blue Jays lost a pitcher, but Boston’s gain isn’t as significant as Toronto’s loss.

The Yankees do have a weak spot in right field, but the door is hypothetically being kept open for Bryce Harper in 2016.

More important point from Cameron at Fangraphs:

A year ago, the Yankees run prevention could best be described as okay. Their 99 ERA- ranked squarely in the middle of the pack, ranking 15th best in baseball, but those average results were mostly driven by an anomalous home run problem. A year ago, 13.6% of the fly balls the Yankees allowed ended up going over the fence, the highest ratio of any team in baseball. Sure, some of that is just the nature of the ballpark they play in, but HR/FB ratio is also one of the least consistent year-to-year variables for a pitcher, even ones who throw half their games in a park that inflates home run rates.

By xFIP-, which normalizes their home run rate, the Yankees pitching staff actually ranked 4th in baseball in 2015 with a mark of 91, suggesting that based on their walks, strikeouts, and ground ball rates, they should have had an above average run prevention unit. If that had been the case, combined with the team’s strong offense, they’d have won 90+ games pretty easily, and we probably wouldn’t be questioning whether or not the 2016 Yankees could contend with mostly the same roster.

BrianCashman90 wins would have been more impressive than where they actually finished, but it still wouldn’t have beaten Toronto’s 93. But with the loss of David Price?

The problem with what we’re seeing out of the Yankees now versus what we know from them. Every off-season, the Yankees are expected to splash money all over the scene and be that looming specter over any major free agent’s negotiations. Under the new regime? Not so much.

If the Yankees had any enormous holes, undoubtedly, they would act. Brian Cashman has been doing his job long enough to know how this team works and what to do to fix problems. The track record speaks for itself.

Holding out with the very real possibility of scooping up a free agent named Bryce Harper next off-season shows great restraint and long term strategy. Over the next few years, we shall see how things turn out. But 2016 is looking like a solid year.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Pinstripe Post; C.C. Sabathia’s Moment is Coming – Cleat Geeks

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