In this post I am going to do my best to give a proper preview for The New York Yankees, the greatest organization on earth.
Let’s start with the infield
Catcher– Gary Sanchez, known to his friends, family, and fans as El Gary. Personally I think he needs a better nickname but it is what it is. This guy is going to be a MONSTER not only this year but for the next decade. Little history on Yankee catchers, they have always been good, look at this list: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Thurman Munson, core-four legend Jorge Posada, and ELSTON HOWARD. Absolutely stacked list
Sanchez, in only 53 games, hit .299 with 20 HR, 12 doubles, and 42 RBI. He had a .376 OBP and a 1.032 OPS. Those are MONSTER numbers especially coming from a catcher. To put that in perspective David Ortiz led the league with a 1.021 OPS last year.
Can he be a top 5 catcher this year? Well according to the projections, which I think are wrong, he MAY be.
Clearly the projections think that the league will adjust to Sanchez and he will suffer, being the optimist I disagree.If Sanchez puts up similar numbers to the end of last year it would be historic, I see some regression and my back of the envelope projections will be roughly a .275 BA, 33HR, 100RBI, and an OPS around .900, which should put him in the thick of the MVP discussion. He should be hitting anywhere from 2nd to 5th in the lineup.
Backing him up will most likely be Austin Romine. A somewhat pedestrian .242 2016 batting average who seems to handle the pitching staff well and is not much of a liability.
At third base we have the disappointing Chase Headley. Headley had a tough year batting .251 with a .329 OBP and only 14 HR. After his monster second half in San Diego the Headley acquisition has been a let down to most fans. He has played average third base, doesn’t have the range nor arm that top third-baseman have but is not the liability he was in 2015 or 2014. Looking into the numbers Headley struggled in March and April but seemed to turn things around over the summer, but then struggled again in September. I’m not sure what happened, whether it was an injury or just wearing out, but Headley really struggled towards the end of the season. Headley is not the answer going forward but for the 2017 season he is the best option we have at this time. Hopefully he can get out to a good start but he clearly is not going to be the driving force behind this teams success.
Not the best projections for chase but unfortunately I agree with them, maybe a little high on the SB count too.
Our Shortstop may be one of the driving forces to a successful year for the Bronx Bombers, Sir Didi Gregorious. Didi has been a revelation as a Yankee fan. Initially burdened as the Derek Jeter replacement Didi has really come into his own. Also touted as a defensive shortstop he has really come around with the bat over the last few years. After being traded by the Reds to the Diamondbacks he finally has found a home in New York. in 2014, with the diamondbacks, his triple slash was .226/.290/.363 which is not good at all, actually its really bad
Since joining the Yanks he has raised that to .265/.318/.370 in 2015 and then to .276/.304/.447!!! in 2016. Phenomenal improvement for a young player. Taking out march/april, where he hit .224 with a .597 OPS, Didi had a triple slash of .283/.311/.461 which puts him in the same conversation as Londor, Correa, Bogaerts. Didi has added pop to his repertoire with 20 HR last year as well, attacking the short porch in right with that sweet lefty swing.
He grades as an above average defender and isn’t afraid to much it up around second base turning two. If the Yankees are going to do knock the Red Sox off their pedestal look to Didi as being a sleeper candidate as a leader of this ball club.
Second Base: Starlin Castro Didi’s double play tandem and former chicago cub has been exactly what I expected form him. He has played average defense while batting .270/.300/.423. I can live with the average OBP (19th for 2nd basemen) because of that slugging % which for a second baseman is average for a 2nd baseman (15th). (the rankings include Zobrist, Carpenter, Segura who really aren’t second baseman though)
Starlin was acquired in a trade with the Cubs for Adam Warren (who was reacquired in the Chapman deal). I always though he got a bad rep in Chicago. We was the leader on that team and cornerstone since he was 20 years old, that is a lot of pressure to put on a young ballplayer. He really struggled in the first half of 2015 and seemingly made defensive mistakes every day, mainly because of a lack of focus, but seemed to turn things around towards the end of the season, after working with Yankee Killer Manny Ramirez.
In his first year with the Yankees he was a serviceable second baseman and is only 26! even though he’s been in the league since 2010. I’m hoping he can have a nice resurgence and revert back to how he was in 2010-2012 where his OPS was above .750, a pretty good number for a 2nd baseman.
First Base is a question mark right now for two reasons: 1) Is Greg Bird back/healthy and 2) what will Chris Carter be this year.
When the Yanks called up Greg Bird in 2015 to replace Texiera we really didn’t know what we were getting, it turned out a pretty good ballplayer. In those 46 games he hit 11 HR with a triple slash of 261/343/529, not bad for a young ballplayer. He then got hurt in spring training of 2016 and missed the entire year. If Bird can replicate those numbers from 2015 for a whole year then he will be a valuable part of the lineup, that is if he plays everyday.
Chris Carter, the NL home-run co-leader was recently signed for 3.5MM on a one year deal. The catch is he batted barely above the Mendoza line, plays below average defense, and can’t run worth a lick. The positive is he can really hit a baseball when he gets some good wood on it. For the Yankees taking a flier on Carter is a low risk high reward move, but it may backfire. The future of first base is with Greg Bird and everyone knows that, so giving ABs to Carter in the rebuilding but competing phase of this team is a questionable decision.
(Side-note: Tyler Austin is out 6 weeks with a fractured foot and was in line to compete with Bird for the first base job, this happened after the Carter signing, making the Carter signing look that much better. While I don’t necessarily agree with it I trust Cashman and realize that the price was just too good to give up)
Besides the questions at first, which will be throughout the year the Yankees look to have a decent infield. Led by El gary, Did, and Starlin the middle of the diamond seems to be covered, the question is can Headley get hot in the middle of the year and what is going to happen to first base. Luckily there is all of spring training to sort out the details.