Here we go with Round 2. As a reminder, the Red Sox, based on the newly released PECOTA projections, are supposed to go 101-61 in 2008.
The Yankees, like the Red Sox, enter the season with few new names — just a lot of young ones getting older and more experienced. Also like the Red Sox, the Yankees were unlucky when it came to one-run games — which led to an underperformance of their Pythagorean record, and should be kept in mind when we get to projecting a record at the end of this post.
All that said, let’s get to it.
First, the 2007 lineup (incidentally, I hope you yfs are happy. It pains me every time I click on the Yankees’ Baseball-Reference page). Determining the typical Yankee lineup for 2007 is difficult. Fourteen times, New York ran a lineup with Andy Phillips at first, Melky Cabrera in center and Johnny Damon at DH. But 12 times, Mientkiewicz was at first, Damon in center and Giambi at DH.
On the other hand, by batting order, Damon led off far more often than anyone else (123 games, to 32 for Cabrera), while the most common batting order featured Andy Phillips in the 8 spot even though he was supplanted by Giambi and Duncan by the end of the year. Nevertheless, I’ll go with the lineup trotted out there the most times in 2007 — and that is below:
|Damon||.270/.351/.396, 12 HR, 41 XBH, 66 BB, 93 R|
|Jeter||.322/.388/.452, 12 HR, 55 XBH, 206 H, 15 SB|
|Abreu||.283/.369/.445, 16 HR, 61 XBH, 84 BB, 25 SB|
|Rodriguez||.314/.422/.645, 54 HR, 85 XBH, 95 BB, 156 RBI|
|Matsui||.285/.367/.488, 25 HR, 57 XBH, 73 BB, 73 K|
|Posada||.338/.426/.543, 20 HR, 63 XBH, 74 BB, 171 H|
|Cano||.306/.353/.488, 19 HR, 67 XBH, 39 BB, 301 TB|
|Phillips||.292/.338/.373, 2 HR, 10 XBH, 185 AB|
|Cabrera||.273/.327/.391, 8 HR, 40 XBH, 43 BB, 13 SB|
Formidable indeed. A better line for that eight spot might be the Yanks’ overall numbers at first base (which would duplicate some of Damon’s numbers): .284/.350/.419, 16 HR, 43 XBH, 86 RBI.
A lineup putting up those numbers should have produced 5.98 runs per game, or 969 total runs. The Yankees actually scored 968. So not bad at all. I would guess this is skewed a bit by using Phillips and leaving Giambi on the bench, but it shows the Yanks did not suffer much of a dropoff from their bench in 2007.
Let’s see how a prospective 2008 Yankee lineup would look:
|Cabrera||.283/.342/.404, 10 HR, 40 XBH, 44 BB, 14 SB|
|Jeter||.297/.365/.407, 8 HR, 41 XBH, 169 H, 13 SB|
|Abreu||.276/.378/.435, 15 HR, 46 XBH, 81 BB, 18 SB|
|Rodriguez||.294/.401/.550, 36 HR, 72 XBH, 94 BB, 116 RBI|
|Matsui||.286/.367/.465, 18 HR, 48 XBH, 63 BB, 67 K|
|Posada||.287/.380/.479, 19 HR, 48 XBH, 66 BB, 129 H|
|Cano||.299/.340/.455, 15 HR, 54 XBH, 33 BB, 257 TB|
|Giambi||.235/.363/.453, 15 HR, 25 XBH, 46 BB, 300 PA|
|Damon||.278/.355/.417, 11 HR, 39 XBH, 55 BB, 15 SB|
Not nearly as formidable. The DH/1B situation is a mess, so I chose the old reliables of Damon and Giambi. Obviously, they’ll be heavily rested in favor of players like Duncan, Betemit, or maybe Ensberg. Still, with Giambi projected to a .796 OPS and Damon to a .772 OPS, it seems unlikely the backups will bring much more than that.
Otherwise, the players you’d expect to regress — Posada and A-Rod — do. It’s not incredibly optimistic on the young guys either, though. Cano and Cabrera are not slotted for any kind of significant improvement — in fact, Cano is slotted for a significant regression (for his age). Such a lineup should score 5.64 runs per game, or about 914 total runs. That’s 55 runs off, or between five and six wins.
To be fair, let’s also look at Dave Pinto’s calcs for the Marcel and Bill James projections, like we did for the Sox. Pinto inputs a lineup with Damon as the leadoff and Cabrera at No. 9. Since they’re projected to have similar numbers, I doubt it made much difference. With Giambi, Marcel projects a slight loss while Bill James sees things much rosier, giving the Yanks 1,004 runs. That’s between three and four wins better than 2007.
Averaging the three systems together, we get -12 runs — or about one win worse.
We all know the Yankees will field a solid, if not as intimdating, lineup in 2008. The question is whether they can improve on this performance:
2007 stats (ERA/WHIP/BAA)
|Wang||19-7, 3.70/1.29/.261, 199.1 IP, 104 K, 59 BB|
|Pettitte||15-9, 4.05/1.43/.282, 215.1 IP, 141 K, 69 BB|
|Mussina||11-10, 5.15/1.47/.305, 151 IP, 91 K, 35 BB|
|Clemens||6-6, 4.18/1.31/.262, 99 IP, 68 K, 31 BB|
|Hughes||5-3, 4.31/1.28/.238, 72.2 IP, 58 K, 29 BB|
|Igawa||2-3, 6.25/1.67/.285, 67.2 IP, 53 K, 37 BB|
When only one starter in six with at least 10 starts manages an opponents’ batting average below .260, that’s not generally a good sign.
The top four bullpenners:
2007 stats (ERA/WHIP/BAA)
|Rivera||3-4, 3.15/1.12/.253, 71.1 IP, 74 K, 12 BB|
|Proctor||2-5, 3.81/1.51/.245, 54.1 IP, 37 K, 29 BB|
|Vizcaino||8-2, 4.30/1.45/.237, 75.1 IP, 62 K, 43 BB|
|Bruney||3-2, 4.68/1.62/.238, 50 IP, 39 K, 37 BB|
The Yankees gave up 777 runs in about 1,451 innings. The weakness and injuries of the starters led to the overuse and ultimate failure of the bullpen. An off year by Mariano Rivera’s standards didn’t help things either. Roger Clemens’ return was a qualified failure (in the sense that he provided very little except to be better than Kei Igawa).
Now, the Yankees will rely heavily on Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain to keep them in the 2008 race. Does PECOTA think they can?
2007 stats (ERA/WHIP/BAA)
|Wang||11-9, 4.37/1.45/.272, 178.1 IP, 95 K, 59 BB|
|Pettitte||12-8, 4.22/1.40/.262, 176 IP, 117 K, 60 BB|
|Hughes||10-8, 4.42/1.39/.243, 152 IP, 129 K, 65 BB|
|Mussina||9-8, 4.54/1.36/.268, 149.2 IP, 101 K, 40 BB|
|Kennedy||9-7, 4.24/1.40/.234, 141 IP, 120 K, 68 BB|
|Chamberlain||9-6, 3.71/1.24/.224, 145.2 IP, 162 K, 55 BB|
Much like the Red Sox with Clay Buchholz, the lesson from PECOTA is get Joba Chamberlain into the rotation ASAP. He projects to have better numbers across the board than any other pitcher in the Yankee rotation. Otherwise, Yankee fans would be thrilled to see "The Franchise" turn out to be the third-best of the three rookie pitchers. PECOTA essentially wipes the extremes and projects the veteran starters in the fair-to-middlin’ range.
And the ‘pen:
2007 stats (ERA/WHIP/BAA)
|Rivera||5-4, 2.69/1.13/.229, 60.2 IP, 51 K, 15 BB|
|Ramirez||4-3, 3.61/1.31/.209, 60.2 IP, 76 K, 31 BB|
|Farnsworth||3-2, 3.71/1.29/.232, 53 IP, 51 K, 21 BB|
|Veras||3-3, 4.66/1.50/.253, 47.1 IP, 39 K, 24 BB|
The bullpen looks to be much improved, and PECOTA even has faith in Kyle Farnsworth.
Extrapolating those numbers over the 1,451 pitched by Yankee hurlers in 2007 gives the staff 668 runs allowed. That’s a lot better — better than every team in ’07 except Boston and 109 runs better than 2007. That’s an 11-win improvement, which intuitively seems unrealistic. And there’s a reason why.
In the Red Sox study, I extrapolated the top 10 Boston pitchers’ numbers over the total team innings to see if there was a gap between their expected runs allowed in that many innings and the actual team RA, and there was none. Doing the same with the Yankees, however, leads to a projected runs-allowed total of 692 — 85 fewer runs than the Yankees actually gave up in ’07. Just as the Red Sox benefited fom an unusually strong showing from call-ups and back-end relievers to essentially allow no drop-off from the Top 10 to the rest, the Yankees had plenty of Chase Wrights and Tyler Clippards and Jeff Karstens(es).
So, acknowledging that the Top 10 Yankee pitchers should have allowed only 692 runs (had they been able to pitch every inning) in 2007, the Top 10 Yankee pitchers should give up 668 — a gap of 24 runs, or between two and three wins. It’s safe to assume that the Yanks will not be turning over so many innings to such poor pitchers in 2008, so let’s take the average of 2.5 and 11, and say the Yankees will be seven wins better on the pitching side, based on PECOTA projections. It’s not terribly scientific, but it’s reasonable.
So let’s wrap this up with a handy chart for the Yankees.
That’s a net gain of just under six wins for the Yankees from their 2007 Pythag record of 97-65.
The final standings, according to the PECOTA extrapolations:
Red Sox 101-61
I’m not going to get into how likely this is, just from the standpoint of seeing two 100-win teams in the same division. Suffice it to say, it will be another dogfight in the AL East this year. Let the Great Debate begin!