Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – New York Yankees

Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees defied expectations last season as their aging line-up dragged them to an 87-75 record and a wildcard spot. They failed to progress beyond the wildcard game and it may be that their impressive season papered over a lot of cracks they appear to have. Their rotation is injury prone with little behind it, and their line-up has an average age of 32.8 and is, surprise, also injury prone. However, their bullpen is amazing so they will try and turn it over to them in the 6th or 7th with a lead and hope they do their thing.

Their main additions in the offseason are the stud closer, Aroldis Chapman, to complete a superb trio of bullpen pitcher; Starlin Castro, who was considered one of the best up-and-comers in baseball a few years ago before a sharp decline, and Aaron Hicks as a fourth outfield option, who will platoon with Beltran and be their first injury replacement. They didn’t lose any major pieces with Chris Young the main departure of note.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. Brett Gardner
  3. Carlos Beltran (vs RH), Aaron Hicks (vs LH)
  4. Mark Teixeira
  5. Alex Rodriguez
  6. Brian McCann
  7. Chase Headley
  8. Didi Gregorious
  9. Starlin Castro

Brett Gardner, OF

Gardner has taken his talents to a new level the past two season with 33 home runs combined in those two years. He may not be the 40-steal threat he was early in his career, but he is still capable of swiping 25-ish bases, which, when combined with 10-15 steals, is a valuable and very under rated commodity for a hitter. Batting second in the Yankees line-up means he should be capable of scoring 80-90 runs and driving in 60-70, whilst hitting close to 0.260. Gardner is currently going as the 87th hitter off the board and 39th outfielder, which seems great value to me in both formats where I have him inside the top 30 outfielders.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF

Ellsbury is an interesting conundrum who is as close to impossible to predict as it gets at times. If he can stay healthy for 150 games he’s a lock top 20 outfielder. But if we take a more realistic average of 130 games then he slips a little, especially in roto. On a per-game basis he is better than Gardner but he has had some ups and downs with injuries. A fully healthy Ellsbury can steal 40 bases whilst hitting 5-10 homers. But a hampered Ellsbury is more likely a 25 steals/five-homer guy. If we include replacement value in a points league (where only 3 OF’s are often started) then he’s on the verge of a top 20 outfielder and the risk reward curve tips in his favour. In the deeper, five outfield roto format where replacement value is much less, then there is more question marks. However, as the 29th outfielder off the board the risk is low enough and the potential reward high enough for me to be willing to take the plunge in the 10th round.

Carlos Beltran, OF

The fact that Beltran grades out as my third highest Yankee in roto and seventh in points tells you how flimsy the Yankees roster is right now from a fantasy aspect. Beltran will turn 39 this season and with it likely he will be splitting time in the outfield with Aaron Hicks – his value is diminishing quick. If he was assured of 150 games then he would still be a 20-25 homer threat, but, with the platoon, 15-18 is more likely. Naturally, playing less games hurts his runs and RBI totals as does being 39 on his steals potential. He should be a 0.270-0.280 batting average guy but the 0.233 year in 2014 still weighs heavily on the mind. However, countering all of that is the fact he is going outside of the top 300 meaning that there is virtually no price to pay for him. Ellsbury is not exactly assured to play all season and Hicks could easily cough up the ball and we could see Beltran get into that 135-150 games range where the reward will far outweigh the risk of investing a last round pick in him.

Alex Rodriguez, DH

A-Rod came back to baseball with a bang in 2015, hitting 33 homers at a 0.250 average. But being able to reach those heights again this season is unlikely. To play 150 games in a season where he turned 40 is a stunning turn of health, which is he is unlikely to repeat this year. Add in natural age regression and it is far more likely he hits closer to 20 homers than 30 this year. I would also expect his average to drop a fraction and be closer to 0.240 than 0.250. Batting fifth in the Yankees line-up isn’t going to allow him to score much more than 55-60 runs or drive in more than 65-ish. Add in the DH only and it is hard to get enthusiastic over what A-Rod can offer you this season. However, Rodriguez is going so late in drafts that you don’t have to put any commitment into him, and the payoff is a 20-homer guy with close to 30 homer potential.

Chase Headley, 3B

Is Chase Headley able to summon the skills of seasons past to be fantasy relevant this year

Is Chase Headley able to summon the skills of seasons past to be fantasy relevant this year?

Headley has fallen a long way from the guy who hit 30 homers and stole 17 bases in 2012. Last season he managed just 11 homers, didn’t steal a base and hit 0.259. There isn’t a huge amount to say about Headley beyond saying that I expect him to hit approximately the same as he did last season. However, I do feel he is going to outperform his current draft position, where he is being taken 342nd overall, equating to the 200th hitter. I currently have him valued as the 155th hitter for roto inside the top 100 for points.

Mark Teixeira, 1B

Teixeira is my bust for the Yankees this year. He is currently being drafted 186th overall, but I have him outside the top 30 first basemen in roto because of his projected 0.230 average and injury history. With Bird now lost for the year and no clear replacement, the job is there for Teixiera as long as he can stay healthy.

Brian McCann, C, 1B

McCann is a safe top 10 option at catcher once again to enter the 2015 season. His value in both formats largely comes from the expectation that 120 games played is a fairly safe bet, barring injuries. However, owning McCann does mean you have to be willing to take a hit on your average in roto leagues as he is projected to have the worst average among the top 20 catchers. On the flip side you get a guy who has hit over 20 homers in the last eight years and is a solid bet to get 50/50 runs and RBI this season, batting sixth in the Yankees line-up.

Any Other Business?

  • Starlin Castro, 2B, SS: Castro is another over-rated guy entering the season being drafted late in the draft. I liked the potential when he moved to New York but the news he was projected to bat 9th in the line-up has killed a lot of my excitement surrounding him.
  • Didi Gregorius, SS: Gregorius is one of those better in real life than in fantasy guys. He has amazing defence but his hitting isn’t quite there yet. He doesn’t offer anywhere need the speed for a guy with 5-10 homer power and batting 8th in the Yankees line-up limits his runs and RBI potential.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF: Hick’s is a decent player who has 15/20 potential if was playing all season. However, his lack of control with the bat means he is a platoon candidate and reaching that potential is unlikely. Worth a shot in deep AL only but that is as good as it gets.

Projected Rotation

  1. Masahiro Tanaka
  2. Luis Severino
  3. CC Sabathia
  4. Michael Pineda
  5. Nathan Eovaldi

Masahiro Tanaka

Can Tanaka finally manage to put together a healthy season?

Can Tanaka finally manage to put together a healthy season?

Tanaka has steadily fallen in the time he has been in the majors to a point where he is now being drafted more on name value than the actual output he can provide. Tanaka is currently being drafted as the 41st pitcher off the board in the ninth round, but I have him outside the top 50 in both formats (58 in roto and 70th in points). This is mainly due to the fact he has yet to pitch more than 155 innings in the majors and his K/9 dropped by a whole strikeout last season. His ERA last season also jumped 0.8 of a run and he gave up an extra 10 homers in just 20 more innings pitched. Right now Tanaka is a borderline 4th/5th starter for me, but is worth drafting in the early teens rounds because of his ability to turn it on in games.

Michael Pineda

Pineda is the most exciting pitcher in this rotation, but the injury fears continue to lurk as he’s pitched just 76 innings between 2011 and the start of 2015 – keep him down in drafts. The fact he is currently going 50 picks after Tanaka is absolutely crazy because he has the potential to be a top 20 pitcher if he can put it together. I have him aggressively projected for 175 innings and have him just inside my top 30. So, if I can get him in the 14th round then that is a gamble I am absolutely willing to take!

Luis Severino

Severino is another guy I had on my list of potential 2016 Yankees busts. He is being drafted as the 53rd pitcher off the board based on a 62 innings pitched sample size in 2015. I don’t see how Severino can even come close to being as good as he was last year, and I have seen him projected for a 4.25+ ERA in places and 1.4+ WHIP. If that happens then we are also unlikely to see him pitch 175 innings which he needs to be the guy people are drafting. The positive is that I think he will be given every chance by the Yankees next season as there isn’t a lot of MLB ready talent behind him in the minors.

Nathan Eovaldi & C.C. Sabathia

I don’t really think either of these two guys are worth of a mention as I don’t expect either to be particularly relevant in shallow leagues. If either is going to have deep league relevance with potentially something more, then its Eovaldi but he doesn’t excite me enough to go chasing late in drafts.

Closer:

Aroldis Chapman

The news that Chapman won’t face any legal punishment going forward is good news (I hate saying that considering the accusation) for fantasy owners as it likely means he shouldn’t be treated too harshly by the MLB. However, there are still concerns surrounding Chapman given that the two guys behind him in this bullpen could be legitimate stud closers in their own right if given the chance. If Chapman can hold the job down, he has a legitimate chance to be the best closer in baseball but there is enough risk to make me keep him in his own tier just below the elite guys.

Next Man Up:

Andrew Miller

Can Andrew Miller still be fantasy relevant in the set up role?

Can Andrew Miller still be fantasy relevant in the set up role?

Miller has a ton of value for a guy who is currently projected to get just two saves! My projections have him top 15 among relievers but pulling the trigger that high on a guy who may not even net you five saves in a roto league is very hard. If Chapman falters then Miller could easily be among the top three closers but even then he isn’t the guaranteed next guy up.

The Most Talented?:

Dellin Betances

If I project Betances for the same number of saves as Chapman is projected for then he is by far and away the best closer in the game. However, he is potentially third in the queue for saves this season and perhaps rightly so. Betances is so good that he is rightly used in high leverage situation by the Yankees and that hurts his value in roto leagues especially. If you aren’t worried about drafting saves and you feel Betances has fallen far enough, then why not grab a great ERA and WHIP guy to help you whilst also giving you a stunning K/9 at those reliever spots.

Prospect Potential

  • Gary Sanchez, C: Sanchez had a taste of the majors in 2015 but will start the year in AAA trying to improve his defence. Sanchez is not likely to be a full time catcher going forward but if he can just be good enough then he should be able to hold onto qualification and be a perennial draftee based on position alone. He had nearly 20 homers in the minors last year whilst hitting 0.274 so he is no McCann but he is certainly got useful power and should be able to have at least a 0.250 average.
  • Rob Refsnyder, 2B: I had Refsnyder initially in the line-up to start the year but then they traded for Starlin Castro limiting his opportunities in 2016. There are questions about his defence which could potentially see him moved position. If he can hang on to his middle infield eligibility, then he could be a be a regular middle infield option in roto leagues who will provide decent speed and power. However, that is unlikely to be this year as I think the Yankees give Castro at least the season to see what he has.
  • Aaron Judge, OF: Judge has the potential to be an elite hitter in all formats if he can get his strikeouts under control and be a 260-270+ hitter. He has great power potential and he could be the first guy up if the Yankees outfield struggles with injuries in 2016. However, if his strikeout issue rears its ugly head then we could be look at less than 0.250 hitter. Whatever happens he is a good power hitter who has a great upside but he isn’t a guy you can draft entering the year.
  • Luis Cessa, SP: Cessa moved from one side of New York to the other via Detroit this last year. He had been pitching well in the Mets organisation but he doesn’t compare to the previous prospects that have come through the Mets system in the last few years. He has mid-rotation upside in the majors and could be a 4th or 5th starter in fantasy but I am not sure he can achieve much more than that.

 

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