2015 Fantasy Outlooks: New York Yankees

Jacoby Ellsbury

The New York Yankees come into the 2015 season off a relatively surprising second place in the AL East in 2014. Many thought last year would be a down year and they managed to at least push the Orioles a little bit through the season. However, that relative success may cost them this year as there are no real upgrades (partly due to a horrific cap situation) and that is bad news for fantasy. With potentially only two players who are relevant in the top 10 rounds this season the Yankees are a team where most of their players will go late and even then if more than 10 get drafted I would be mildly surprised. During the offseason they lost Brandon McCarthy to free agency and the iconic Derek Jeter to free agency and added Didi Gregorius, who won’t light up fantasy leagues. There biggest move was probably to resign Chase Headley at third base where hopefully we will see some form of fantasy relevance in 2015 to help save a murky third base position.

Hitting

Predicted line-up:

  1. Brett Gardner, OF
  2. Chase Headley, 3B
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
  4. Brian McCann, C
  5. Carlos Beltran, OF
  6. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  7. Garrett Jones, DH (vs RH), Alex Rodriguez, DH (vs LH)
  8. Stephen Drew, 2B
  9. Didi Gregorius, SS (vs RH), Brendan Ryan, SS (vs LH)

Fantasy Superstar: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF

The move from Fenway to Yankee Stadium last offseason had fantasy owners wondering whether Jacoby Ellsbury would be as effective in 2014 as he had been in 2013 and while he wasn’t quite the same player (Three roto points lower in 2014) he added something that will be extremely pleasant for his owners, a little bit of pop. In 2014 Ellsbury hit 16 home runs, 7 more than in 2013, and while that came at the cost of a few steals, 39 as opposed to 52, it gave for a more all-round fantasy contribution. His slight loss of roto value came from a drop in batting average from 0.290 to 0.273. So what do we expect in 2015? We have seen a flash of power from Ellsbury before and then it fell off but Yankee Stadium does suit left handers for power so I think Ellsbury could legitimately challenge 20/20 this season but a more likely figure would be 15 homers and 35 steals. If as predicted he bats at three then his runs and RBI’s should be similar to each other at around 75 a piece especially if he can bounce that average back up towards 0.290 again.

Mid Round Power: Brian McCann, C

The fact McCann is often the second Yankees’ hitter off the board tells you two things. One; catcher is a horrific position this year and two; the Yankees’ hitting is really nothing special for fantasy. McCann should offer you above average power for catcher with that short porch in left field benefiting his leftie stance the same way it does Ellsbury. Batting at four should be good for McCann allowing him to drive in some speedy guys in Gardner and Ellsbury. The sacrifice with McCann over other catchers is average which I expect to be in the 0.240 region.

Outfield Filler: Brett Gardner, OF

I really struggled over a category for Gardner because he just doesn’t excite me but as someone who looks pretty much locked in for 550+ AB’s who can hit you a few homers and steal a few bases it is hard to ignore him in the later rounds. I currently have him just outside the top 50 at outfielder and based on upcoming projections he is outside the top 50 in projected roto value which is why I just don’t swoon when I see him drafted. He feels like a safe 10 homer 15 steal guy that doesn’t hurt you but there are plenty of people with better upside I’d take a shot on first.

Late Round Power Potential: Carlos Beltran, OF

Beltran has one calling card for your team and that is if you skimped on power early and need to catch up at the end of the draft. While Beltran won’t help you with average he isn’t as damaging as some other late round power guys such as Granderson and Rasmus. In 403 AB’s last season he had 15 homers while in 2013 in 550 AB’s he had 24 homers so as a starter in 2015 I would expect him to have roughly 20 home runs.

Fantasy Enigma: Chase Headley, 3B

In 2012 Headley set the third base position alight finishing top of the position whilst hitting 31 home runs. In 2013 and 2014 those home run totals dipped from 31 to 13 and his average dropped from the mid 280’s in 2012 to the mid 240’s in 2014. If he can get the average to bounce back a little then he could be another decent source of late round production at weak third base position.

Any Other Business?:

  • Alex Rodriguez, 3B: The A-Rod situation is interesting as the Yankees’ appear not to want him back but refuse to just eat his contract and cut him. At the end of the day success will trump all for the Yankees’ so they will likely use A-Rod as a platoon at either DH or 3B. If he gets some everyday at bats and doesn’t look completely shot then he might have hot stretches where he is worth the risk of owning.
  • Garrett Jones, 1B: Jones will likely be part of a rotating DH, infield group of himself, Rodriguez and Teixera so without injuries I cannot see him getting enough regular AB’s to be a real benefit to you. However, if Rodriguez doesn’t end up on the Yankees’ or Teixera suffers another of his injuries Jones could be an interesting CI/Util option for periods but he isn’t worth drafting.
  • Mark Teixera, 1B: Even though he is scheduled to be the main 1B option I am not sure you want to deal with the headaches Teixera could bring. Not only does he constantly seem to have niggling injuries but his average can be actively damaging to your fantasy team.
  • Stephen Drew, 2B: Drew was somewhat of a hot sleeper in 2014 when he eventually signed with the Red Sox but heading into 2015 he is really an afterthought as even Didi Gregorius seems to be getting more love in the rankings than Drew. Doesn’t offer you anything special batting at the bottom of an ageing line-up.
  • Didi Gregorius, SS: another middle infielder who offers you nothing exciting with the bat in a line-up that isn’t overly encouraging. Batting 9th does mean he has the opportunity to be driven in by Gardner, Headley and Ellsbury which does elevate him above Drew for me.

Pitching

Projected Rotation:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. Michael Pineada
  4. Chris Capuano
  5. Nathan Eovaldi

(DL: Ivan Nova – Tommy John surgery 29/04/2014)

Fantasy Enigma: Masahiro Tanaka, SP

For many Tanaka is a top 25 SP but for me he is outside my top 35 because he seems to have some pretty serious elbow issues. He is reportedly going to try and pitch through it and to me that screams mid-season surgery. Therefore that is why he slips down my rankings because I am worried he is going to break down a month into the season and you will lose him for the whole of 2015. Why I didn’t drop him lower is because he is a quality pitcher when healthy who could easily give you a strikeout an innings with a WHIP just over 1. Therefore at a point he becomes a solid risk option because pitching is so deep you can replace him easily with a waiver wire guy and the potential rewards of him could be worth the risk.

Finally Breaking Out?: Michael Pineda, SP

It feels like forever now that people have been saying “This is going to be Pineda’s year! This is finally the time he puts it all together and is a fantasy stud.” As you may have gathered it hasn’t really happened whether that has been due to injuries, bad luck, poor pitching or something else there always seems to be something that means he ends up failing to live up the hype. Well this is going to be the ye….. O.K. so he may never be a stud but he should at least be useful for you in fantasy this year at the back end of the draft as a gamble on starting pitcher. One thing I do expect is a decent ERA and having a much improved middle infield behind him should help him out in 2015. He should finish the year in the 40-50 range for starting pitcher and in a 10+ team league that is a guy worth rostering in the hope of something a little better.

Looking at the rest of the rotation it is safe to say Sabathia’s time has gone where he is a fantasy relevant guy in drafts but there may be periods where he is a waiver wire add. I expect Eovaldi to have similar value to Sabathia where he might be worth picking up at some point but leave Nova and Capuano well alone.

Projected Bullpen:

CL: Dellin Betances

SU: Andrew Miller

SU: Adam Warren

MR: Justin Wilson

MR: David Carpenter

MR: Chasen Shreve

LR: Esmil Rogers

I think it’s fairly accepted that Betances SHOULD be the closer. However, that is not decided yet and Andrew Miller who is another decent strikeout guy could still be the one they go with. I think both of them are draftable in most mixed leagues because they could easily be top 10 at their position if the job is truly theirs. Betances is the one you should take earlier because he has real top three potential at the position and is the consensus favourite. If you can get both and “handcuff” then that would be a decent strategy as long as it doesn’t handicap you at other positions to take them both.

 

Prospect Report

  • Greg Bird, 1B: Bird feels like a sneaky guy to keep track of this year. Teixera gets injured a lot and there is nothing to set the world on fire at 1B on the roster. Bird will likely come up in the 40 man expansion whatever but I would be tempted to gamble on picking him up in season if he gets called up because Teixera is struggling or injured.
  • Robert Refsnyder, 2B: First; I love his name! Secondly; I don’t think he sees enough AB’s to be fully relevant this season but he could be a future star at second base especially if he can provide 10+ homers.
  • Jacob Lindgren, RP: It is unlikely Lindgren becomes fantasy relevant as an RP because he has to surpass two guys who have decent reputations heading into the season. If Lindgren ends up in the bullpen then he may get a shot if both go down injured but the likelihood is unlikely meaning Lindgren, even with his high pedigree, is someone to remember for the future.

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