Projection Time! (Yankees Edition)

This installment will give the Yankees the same treatment I gave the Red Sox, back before The Story. Installment 3, sometime before April, will finally do some head-to-head comparisons.

ZiPS hasn't posted the Yankee projections yet, so we'll go with CHONE, which was determined to be the most accurate system for 2008 — for whatever that's worth (not much, given how close everyone was).

Without further ado…

C
Yankees 2008:
.230/.290/.335, 608 PA, 126 H, 50 R, 8 HR, 36 BB, 108 K (Molina 48.2%, Posada 18.8%, Rodriguez 16.0%, Moeller 15.8%)

Jorge Posada 2009:
P: .249/.336/.432, 257 PA, 7 HR, 28 BB, 50 K
M: .285/.374/.466, 356 PA, 11 HR, 41 BB, 65 K
C: .266/.363/.434, 504 PA, 16 HR, 62 BB, 90 K

Jose Molina 2009:
P: .229/.271/.325, 171 PA, 2 HR, 7 BB, 33 K
M: .237/.282/.344, 369 PA, 5 HR, 18 BB, 70 K
C: .222/.266/.326, 286 PA, 5 HR, 13 BB, 59 K

Well, as long as we're all in agreement — Jorge Posada will either be injured and ineffective, injured and effective or healthy and effective. Gotcha. PECOTA really hates Posada this season — apparently looking at his injury and age and deciding he's a candidate for Varitekian collapse, with a .768 OPS. CHONE takes the opposite approach, projecting Posada to receive a full season's worth of at-bats while posting an OPS near .800. In between is Marcel, which sees some injury — but a return to excellence (.840 OPS) when Posada is healthy. Everyone agrees that Molina can't hit, but he's not there for his offense.

1B
Yankees 2008:
.246/.349/.460, 674 PA, 139 H, 110 R, 31 HR, 76 BB, 143 K (Giambi 66.5%, Betemit 13.4%, Duncan 7.7%)

Mark Teixeira 2009:
P: .287/.379/.506, 647 PA, 28 HR, 80 BB, 103 K
M: .292/.387/.522, 600 PA, 27 HR, 76 BB, 101 K
C: .286/.381/.521, 645 PA, 32 HR, 81 BB, 109 K

Nick Swisher 2009:
P: .244/.353/.460, 524 PA, 24 HR, 71 BB, 120 K
M: .245/.356/.434, 560 PA, 21 HR, 78 BB, 121 K
C: .247/.360/.454, 602 PA, 26 HR, 86 BB, 133 K

I'm not sure what to do with Swisher. Is he a utility backup? The starting right fielder? He seems to be much like Mark Kotsay — only a better-hitting, less-injured version — in that he'll be asked to back up first base (rarely) and fill in at right and center fields. Between the two, maybe he'll reach his projected plate appearances. Or maybe the Yankees will trade Xavier Nady. Those projections are nice; it seems a waste to have them sitting on the bench. Teixeira's projections offer no surprises, though PECOTA doesn't seem as bullish on his slugging as the others.

2B
Yankees 2008:
.265/.299/.404, 661 PA, 165 H, 76 R, 15 HR, 27 BB, 72 K (Cano 95.5%)

Robinson Cano 2009:
P: .284/.323/.419, 594 PA, 12 HR, 29 BB, 70 K
M: .295/.336/.455, 584 PA, 15 HR, 31 BB, 70 K
C: .300/.340/.468, 589 PA, 16 HR, 29 BB, 65 K

PECOTA's not a fan of Cano, forecasting a marginal improvement over 2008 — but a full 60 points of OPS below what CHONE, the most optimistic forecast, projects. Marcel splits the difference. The big question here is Cano's BABIP. In 2006, he put up an insane .363 average on balls in play and hit .341 (above what every projection system sees as his on-base percentage for 2009). In 2007, it dropped to a still-high (but sustainable) .331, and his batting average fell to .306 (though his OBP only slipped from .365 to .353). But in 2009, his BABIP was .286, and his average plummeted to .271. The three projection systems figure Cano will get back up into the .315 range, which would be a relief for the Yankees.

SS
Yankees 2008:
.295/.359/.402, 731 PA, 192 H, 75 R, 12 HR, 59 BB, 103 K (Jeter 90.2%)

Derek Jeter 2009:
P: .288/.353/.383, 599 PA, 6 HR, 49 BB, 84 K 
M: .303/.370/.428, 605 PA, 11 HR, 50 BB, 88 K
C: .294/.366/.415, 662 PA, 12 HR, 59 BB, 98 K

Cody Ransom 2009:
P: .216/.293/.386, 386 PA, 13 HR, 35 BB, 105 K
M: .265/.351/.450, 230 PA, 8 HR, 24 BB, 43 K
C: .218/.294/.390, 482 PA, 17 HR, 43 BB, 136 K

Wow, do the systems like Ransom's power or what? Marcel just likes him, period — projecting a higher OPS for him than Jeter. That's the outlier, as the other two see Ransom as an all-power, nothing-else hitter. Meanwhile, PECOTA continues its string of hating the Yankee hitters, downgrading Jeter's power fairly significantly. Perhaps they dislike the hand injury he had in conjunction with his age. The projection gives him a 23 percent chance of improving and a 36 percent chance of collapsing in 2009.

3B
Yankees 2008:
.283/.364/.511, 696 PA, 173 H, 110 R, 34 HR, 68 BB, 135 K (Rodriguez 81.2%, Ensberg 8.3%, Betemit 6.3%)

Alex Rodriguez 2009:
P: .282/.373/.508, 624 PA, 30 HR, 72 BB, 124 K, 18 SB
M: .289/.386/.545, 568 PA, 32 HR, 68 BB, 110 K, 15 SB
C: .294/.397/.564, 623 PA, 39 HR, 82 BB, 124 K, 15 SB

A-Rod has always been an enigma, both on the field and off. It's hard to tell whether last year was what seems to be a pattern of not being quite right in even years ("not being quite right" being an OPS over .960, of course) or the beginning of the gentle downward slope we should be seeing from a guy who turns 34 during this season. PECOTA and Marcel see the slope — each projecting a slightly worse season across the board for 2009, while CHONE sees more of a plateau. Of course, these all were done before the big steroid story, not that it matters. Can anyone predict how, if at all, this will affect the best all-around player of our generation? Not likely. We'll just have to see.

LF
Yankees 2008:
.284/.349/.427, 714 PA, 183 H, 94 R, 18 HR, 60 BB, 108 K (Damon 47.8%, Nady 26.9%, Matsui 12.6%)

Johnny Damon 2009:
P: .280/.354/.423, 549 PA, 12 HR, 55 BB, 77 K, 22 SB
M: .276/.351/.428, 572 PA, 15 HR, 58 BB, 80 K, 22 SB
C: .276/.351/.417, 615 PA, 17 HR, 62 BB, 82 K, 19 SB

Presumably, Matsui or Nady could come in and play left, so we'll leave Damon without a backup here. Damon had a fine season, posting a .303/.375/.461 line that was his best since leaving Boston. No one expects him to repeat it; in fact, no one sees him breaking an .800 OPS. Still, they see him being better than he was in 2007, and that seems right, as long as his body holds up.

CF
Yankees 2008:
.261/.320/.391, 676 PA, 160 H, 67 R, 17 HR, 50 BB, 90 K (Cabrera 64.3%, Damon 23.1%, Gardner 11.2%)

Melky Cabrera 2009:
P: .267/.326/.376, 484 PA, 8 HR, 37 BB, 61 K
M: .271/.333/.383, 488 PA, 8 HR, 40 BB, 61 K
C: .280/.345/.402, 563 PA, 10 HR, 48 BB, 70 K

Brett Gardner 2009:
P: .253/.339/.351, 498 PA, 4 HR, 55 BB, 93 K, 32 SB
M: .257/.322/.386, 270 PA, 5 HR, 21 BB, 49 K, 12 SB
C: .258/.341/.345, 502 PA, 2 HR, 54 BB, 104 K, 33 SB

Another position in the "dead-cat bounce" category. The projection systems forecast a moderate improvement for Cabrera but think it's an even proposition that he even breaks a .700 OPS. They don't like Gardner's offense much better, which I think might be a mistake. Not that either will tear it up at the plate, but it shouldn't be surprising if Gardner outperforms both sets of projections in taking the job from Cabrera. 

RF
Yankees 2008:
.290/.362/.451, 724 PA, 188 H, 108 R, 19 HR, 73 BB, 112 K (Abreu 91.6%, Nady 3.6%)

Xavier Nady 2009:
P: .270/.323/.444, 528 PA, 18 HR, 32 BB, 101
K
M: .283/.341/.467, 550 PA, 20 HR, 35 BB, 101 K
C: .273/.342/.456, 498 PA, 19 HR, 30 BB, 95 K

I'm not sure what to make of Xavier Nady, and it doesn't look like the projections do either. They all see a pretty precipitous return to earth from the .305/.357/.510 line he put up with the Pirates and Yankees in 2008, though PECOTA's is especially severe — his lowest slugging since 2005. The discrepancies appear to lie with BABIP, which has increased steadily for Nady from .262 in 2004 to .337 last season. The question seems to be how much of a regression he can expect. Marcel doesn't see much of one, CHONE sees a pretty sizable one (and obviously PECOTA does too though they don't release BABIP with their spreadsheets). 

DH
Yankees 2008:
.282/.378/.461, 662 PA, 161 H, 83 R, 22 HR, 77 BB, 108 K (Matsui 41.2%, Damon 18.0%, Giambi 16.6%, Posada 9.5%)

Hideki Matsui 2009:
P: .275/.352/.417, 403 PA, 10 HR, 42 BB, 55 K
M: .277/.356/.443, 452 PA, 14 HR, 48 BB, 60 K
C: .277/.360/.443, 525 PA, 17 HR, 57 BB, 65 K

Another Yankee hitter, another downer of a PECOTA projection, which sees Matsui losing seven points of slugging off his poor 2008 season while everyone else sees him getting back to the midway point before his previous levels and last year's. Everyone agrees on batting and on-base, and CHONE and Marcel are pretty much indistinguishable across the board. But then there's PECOTA. Ten home runs would be a career low for Matsui in seasons with at least 400 appearances. That seems unlikely.

SP1
Yankees 2008: 
3.37/1.22/.275, 200.1 IP, 31 BB, 150 K (Mussina)

C.C. Sabathia 2009:
P: 3.43/1.19/.243, 231 IP, 53 BB, 201 K
M: 3.22/1.16/.246, 211 IP, 50 BB, 194 K
C: 3.41/1.18/.256, 211 IP, 50 BB, 205 K

The Yankees replace Mussina's amazing final season with Sabathia's projected innings. Sabathia looks to give up fewer hits and strike out more batters but wind up with the same, if slightly worse, results, according to the projection results. Marcel really likes him, while CHONE and PECOTA are more reserved — though no one sees him repeating the 2.70 ERA he posted with Cleveland and Milwaukee.

SP2
Yankees 2008:
3.54/1.31/.238, 160.1 IP, 60 BB, 128 K (Wang 59.3 %, Chamberlain 40.7%)

Joba Chamberlain 2009:
P: 3.09/1.24/.223, 124 IP, 47 BB, 133 K
M: 3.23/1.25/.238, 85 IP, 31 BB, 88 K
C: 3.39/1.26/.236, 101 IP, 39 BB, 112 K

I wasn't sure what to do with Joba. On the one hand, his stats clearly project to be the No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher on the staff — but he's also going to be severely innings limited, and the projections are all over the map on whether he's a starter or reliever or both. And whether or not he's a starter likely affects them significantly. PECOTA gives Joba 17 starts, Marcel doesn't list games or games started (but is clearly forecasting him as a reliever), while CHONE gives him 21 starts (at fewer than five innings each). All that said, I put Chamberlain at No. 2. The projections say he'll have No. 1 production for half a season. This seemed a reasonable compromise. At any rate, this looks to be a slight upgrade over the two half-seasons the Yankees received in 2008 from Wang and Joba.

SP3
Yankees 2008: 
4.54/1.41/.288, 204 IP, 55 BB, 158 K (Pettitte)

A.J. Burnett 2009:
P: 3.82/1.32/.240, 197 IP, 73 BB, 178 K
M: 3.97/1.31/.248, 187 IP, 71 BB, 181 K
C: 3.88/1.34/.254, 167 IP, 63 BB, 164 K

Here's where the new acquisitions really turnout to be valuable, as a pitcher of Burnett's quality is projected to significantly improve over Andy Pettitte's league-average 2008. All three systems like for Burnett to stay healthy — but that's probably because none of these systems really projects an injury for players coming off completely healthy seasons unless they're very old. Marcel has an odd projection: It sees fewer baserunners and a comparable opponents' average, with similar walk rate and a higher strikeout rate as the other two — but a sizable jump in ERA.

SP 4
Yankees 2008:
5.49/1.54/.289, 139.1 IP, 45 BB, 76 K (Rasner 75.4%, Pavano 24.6%)

Chien-Ming Wang 2009:
P: 4.39/1.45/.270, 126.1 IP, 42 BB, 67 K
M: 3.79/1.31/.260, 127 IP, 41 BB, 70 K
C: 4.47/1.49/.294, 133 IP, 42 BB, 71 K

The new acquisitions and the emergence of Joba drop Wang all the way from the No. 1 pitcher this time last year to the No. 4. His unique career continues to give the computers fits. He's never posted an ERA above 4.07, yet PECOTA and Marcel both see him skyrocketing to the 4.40 range. Marcel makes the most sense, but all three apparently now see Wang as a major injury risk, with CHONE projecting 22 starts and PECOTA just 19. Marcel is obviously in that 20-start range, as well. Even if Wang hits the worst of these projections — a 4.50 ERA over 130 innings — that's quite a bit better than the big rolling ball of crap that was Darrell Rasner for 100 innings last year.

SP 5 
Yankees 2008:
6.07/1.64/.286, 194.1 IP, 85 BB, 106 K (Ponson 40.7%, Kennedy 18.9%, Hughes 17.5%, Aceves 11.8%)

Andy Pettitte 2009:
P: 4.41/1.42/.270, 168.1 IP, 53 BB, 119 K
M: 4.48/1.44/.285, 183 IP, 58 BB, 132 K
C: 4.31/1.43/.282, 167 IP, 54 BB, 125 K

Phil Hughes 2009:
P: 4.74/1.43/.257, 84.2 IP, 34 BB, 67 K
M: 4.45/1.37/.259, 84 IP, 32 BB, 65 K
C: 4.28/1.40/.266, 82 IP, 31 BB, 68 K

Now that's a horrible pitching line. With Pettitte and Hughes both projected somewhere around league average, the Yanks' ERA from the last spot in the rotation is expected to drop by about 1.5 runs per nine innings. Given 200 innings from that position, that would be 33 runs — or more than three wins, just from the one pitching slot. The systems obviously see something of a bounceback for Pettitte, who was besieged by bad luck last year — and also by bad defense, which should improve, as well, with Giambi and Abreu gone. Meanwhile, no one knows what to expect from Hughes. PECOTA sees a sub-average ERA; CHONE sees an impressive one. Marcel splits the difference. Yet they all project essentially identical peripherals.

MR
Yankees 2008 (top six in games played, ranked by ERA): 
1. 1.95/0.99/.153, 32.1 IP, 15 BB, 29 K (Bruney)
2. 2.31/1.17/.211, 35 IP, 14 BB, 44 K (Chamberlain)
3. 3.59/1.40/.239, 57.2 IP, 29 BB, 63 K (Veras)
4. 3.65/1.35/.264, 44.1 IP, 17 BB, 43 K (Farnsworth)
5. 3.90/1.25/.215, 55.1 IP, 25 BB, 63 K (Ramirez)
6. 5.71/1.41/.275, 41 IP, 16 BB, 23 K (Hawkins)

Damaso Marte, 2009
P: 3.76/1.33/.228, 56.1 IP, 25 BB, 55 K
M: 3.77/1.31/.243, 62 IP, 25 BB, 57 K
C: 3.78/1.38/.250, 50 IP, 22 BB, 48 K

Edwar Ramirez, 2009
P: 3.51/1.28/.220, 58 IP, 25 BB, 62 K
M: 4.34/1.36/.251, 55 IP, 23 BB, 52 K
C: 3.38/1.25/.230, 64 IP, 26 BB, 75 K

Jose Veras, 2009
P: 3.70/1.31/.231, 60 IP, 25 BB, 58 K div>
M: 4.17/1.38/.251, 55 IP, 24 BB, 47 K
C: 4.05/1.37/.249, 60 IP, 26 BB, 60 K

Brian Bruney, 2009
P: 4.47/1.54/.236, 44.1 IP, 27 BB, 39 K
M: 3.66/1.33/.232, 48 IP, 23 BB, 39 K
C: 4.11/1.50/.249, 46 IP, 26 BB, 43 K

Phil Coke, 2009
P: 4.99/1.52/.272, 85.1 IP, 35 BB, 62 K
M: 3.80/1.28/.250, 32 IP, 11 BB, 25 K
C: 4.25/1.40/.262, 55 IP, 22 BB, 51 K

Dan Giese, 2009
P: 5.20/1.46/.275, 73.1 IP, 24 BB, 46 K
M: 4.15/1.33/.258, 52 IP, 18 BB, 37 K
C: 3.95/1.30/.262, 57 IP, 17 BB, 46 K

The bullpen was a clear strength for the Yankees last year, but 2009 looks to be a different matter. With Chamberlain heading to the rotation and Farnsworth gone, the Yanks are counting on Bruney, Veras and Ramirez to repeat or improve, and the projection systems don't really see it happening. They see good returns from Damaso Marte and Ramirez, but you don't want your middle relievers posting ERAs over 4.00, but that's where the systems see most of the Yanks' likely relievers.

CL
Mariano Rivera 2008:
1.40/0.67/.171, 70.2 IP, 6 BB, 77 K

Mariano Rivera 2009:
P: 2.42/1.03/.221, 65.2 IP, 12 BB, 64 K
M: 3.09/1.10/.238, 67 IP, 15 BB, 59 K
C: 2.86/1.06/.240, 63 IP, 11 BB, 60 K

Finally, everyone agrees Mariano will be Mariano — except for CHONE, who thinks he will be something a bit less, closer to his 2007 season. Rivera did post a .232 BABIP last year, his lowest since 1999 and the second-lowest of his illustrious career, so some regression should be expected. But as the projections here show, regression from the season Rivera had in 2008 is barely any regression at all.

11 comments… add one

  • Thanks Paul, another great post. A few points id make on the projections:
    – I think that Swisher is going to end up with alot of playing time this year. In the head-to-head comparison it may be worth plugging him into the DH or RF as he should get a significant number ABs. Obviously, its hard to say anything definitively.
    – Wang as an injury risk is kinda hard to justify given the nature of his injury last year. I actually think Hughes and Pettitte are much more so than he is.
    – It seems like the middle relief is under projected. Alot of analysis that Ive read this year still feel the pen should remain a strength for the yanks this year. I cant say I blame the systems here though as this is one area that is notoriously hard to project. Teams often see significant ‘pen contributions from players that are virtually unheard of previously. I am also greatly encouraged by Girardi’s use of the pen last season. This was one bright spot for his year and vast improvement over Joe “go to Proctor” Torre.
    – Funny that PECOTA is down individually on many yankees as they had a pretty robust projection for the team as a whole. They called for a improvemnt of their run differential of over 100 from last year.
    – As always, health will define this year for the yankees. A healthy rotation would go along way to driving this team to first place. Posada obviously will be key too and bounce back years from Cano and Swisher wouldnt hurt!

    sam-YF February 12, 2009, 1:01 am
  • Thanks for all the work Paul. This is fantastic.
    “than the big rolling ball of crap that was Darrell Rasner “.. love that line. Made my night.

    attackgerbil February 12, 2009, 4:25 am
  • Well that’s why PECOTA has the Yanks winning the wild card!
    Cashman has said Joba will be the #5 all season to better control his innings.
    Thanks for your efforts. A bit less silver lining weaving than we saw for the Sox, but I forgive you for being a lowly SF.

    Rob February 12, 2009, 6:40 am
  • If wonder if the rotation will line up:
    SP1 – Sabathia
    SP2 – Wang
    SP3 – Burnett
    SP4 – Pettitte
    SP5 – Joba
    That’s a pretty good variation. The only thing missing is a knuckler!

    Rob February 12, 2009, 6:45 am
  • Great analysis to start off my morning. I’m shocked they project Wang so poorly, injury or not. and Matsui will definitely have more than 10 HR.
    I agree with the Joba projections though… I see another injury in his future. I think Hughes will come up and do well though, an ERA around 4.

    Atheose February 12, 2009, 7:56 am
  • I’ll settle for Hughes with a 4.5 ERA. Though maybe with the roids gone, that’s not an “okay” ERA anymore..
    I wonder if Joba will take the Smoltz route, except for like, 10 years earlier or something.

    Lar February 12, 2009, 8:09 am
  • How does Pecota project a 97-win season for the Yankees with these numbers?

    AndrewYF February 12, 2009, 10:34 am
  • An ERA of 4.5 is great from your #5 starter, roids or not. Hell, I’d take anything below 5.0 from the #5.

    Atheose February 12, 2009, 11:11 am
  • How does Pecota project a 97-win season for the Yankees with these numbers?
    They’re much more optimistic about the Sox offense producing more runs than the Yankees. I’m not so sure position to position:
    C: Yankees+
    1B: Yankees+
    2B: Sox+
    SS: Yankees+
    3B: Yankees+
    LF: Sox+
    CF: Sox+
    RF: Sox+
    DH: ????
    That’s a push. Depending on the injuries (Matsui/Posada vs. Lowell/Papi), it could go either way. But the Sox would seem to be a close second at 1B and SS, and perhaps C depending on Posada. The Yanks lag much further behind at 2B and in LF and RF, though alot of the difference depends on Cano.

    Rob February 12, 2009, 11:56 am
  • It’s all about runs differential, and I’m guessing the Yanks will do a better job of preventing them, though hopefully adding some too!

    Lar February 12, 2009, 4:58 pm
  • I added a thread up top for this discussion on the team vs. team. Just because.

    Paul SF February 12, 2009, 5:58 pm

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