January 11, 2015

Early 2015 Yankees Projections

It's been a long time since my last writing here but thought there'd be no better a time to return to the blog six years and a day after I started it.

Brian Cashman has made a slew of small moves this offseason that has made the the Yankees a younger team, acquiring a pair of 24-year-olds: Derek Jeter's replacement Didi Gregorius and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. 

Not exactly the two huge names Yankees fans have become accustomed to welcoming.

But maybe that's just what the Yankees need after missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The Yankees are younger and projected to be a much better defensive team than they've been in years. Getting younger and better defensively are two key ingredients to winning, but in the end it's all about scoring and preventing runs. 

Using pure statistical analysis, FanGraphs projects the Yankees to have a +14 run differential in 2015, ranked 15th overall for an 83-79 record. Doesn't look like the Steinbrenner family can honestly expect a championship in 2015. But that's what faithful fans like me are here for – to attend games, cheer passionately, and not lose hope.

That being said, here's what the Yankees are working with in 2015.

C Brian McCann RHP Masahiro Tanaka
1B Mark Teixeira RHP Michael Pineda
2B Stephen Drew LHP CC Sabathia
SS Didi Gregorius RHP Nathan Eovaldi
3B Chase Headley LHP Chris Capuano (eventually Ivan Nova)
LF Brett Gardner Bullpen
CF Jacoby Ellsbury RHP Dellin Betances
RF Carlos Beltran LHP Andrew Miller
DH Alex Rodriguez RHP Adam Warren
Bench RHP David Carpenter
C John Ryan Murphy LHP Justin Wilson
OF Chris Young RHP Esmil Rodgers
INF Brendan Ryan RHP Gonzalez Germen
OF/INF Garrett Jones

And here's what it will take for these Yankees to win it all.

1. The Return of the Old CC Sabathia

It's no secret that for the last two years Sabathia hasn't been the same pitcher he used to be. He's lost life on his fastball, lost weight – which may or may not be helping – and lost all confidence with opposing hitters batting .297 against him. If CC can turn it around, he'll eat innings and keep the team in ballgames.

2. Teixeira to hit like he's being paid to hit

When the Yankees last won it all in 2009, Teixeira finished second in MVP voting with Gold Glove defense and a Silver Slugger bat. Teix has still got the glove but seems to have lost his bat, hitting just .216. Five years ago, Teix was a career .300 hitter. His declining performance has dipped his career average to .273. If it continues to dip in 2015, Teix may not be able to keep his job despite making $23 million.

3. Pitching, Pitching & Pitching

Tanaka, Pineda and Eovaldi are the three young guns who desperately need to stay healthy so we can see what they're all about. Tanaka and Pineda missed a lot of 2014, while Eovaldi started 33 games for the Marlins but hasn't proven himself in the much more powerful AL East.

Of course, it will come down to pitching. Would you bet on this crew? If you would, a leading online sportsbook, CarbonSports.ag, has odds on all of the games.

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