Wednesday, March 22, 2017
New York Yankees 2017 season preview
Key additions: RP Aroldis Chapman, OF Matt Holliday, 1B Chris Carter, SS Ruben Tejada, RP Jon Niese.
Key subtractions: C Brian McCann, 1B Mark Teixeira (retired), SP Nathan Eovaldi, DH Billy Butler, RPs Nick Goody, Kirby Yates, Anthony Swarzak, Blake Parker, Richard Bleier.
Biggest move: The Yankees got Aroldis Chapman back, after trading him to the Chicago Cubs midseason. It was a record breaking deal for a reliever, at 5 years, $86 million. They now have two-thirds of last years three headed monster (or no run DMC, or whatever you want to call it) in Chapman and Dellin Betances (Andrew Miller was the third). If the Yankees are good, Chapman could reach the 40 save mark in 2017.
X-factor: He may have only played in 53 games in 2016 (201 ABs), but C Gary Sanchez hit 20 HRs and an average of .299, finishing second in the AL ROY voting. The Yankees need him to avoid a sophomore slump in 2017 if they want to be competitive. At least 30 HRs seems ideal, but as a Yankee fan, I'm still setting the bar a bit lower for Sanchez.
Biggest bounce back: There's 3 guys who share this spot, so I'll talk about them all. First, SP Michael Pineda was supposed to be a really good MLB player, especially after his 1.89 ERA in 76.1 IP in 2014. But 2016 was rough for him. He had an ERA of 4.82 in 175.2 IP. With the Yankees rotation in shambles after Masahiro Tanaka, they'll need Pineda to pitch way better in 2017.
Second, in 2011, CF Jacoby Ellsbury hit 32 HRs, with 105 RBIs, and 39 SBs for the Red Sox. He continued to be very good in Boston. But after signing a 7 year, $153 million contract with the Yankees in 2014, things changed. Ellsbury is now barely a 20 SB threat. He needs to turn around quickly, because $153 million is a lot to pay a below average player.
Finally, LF Brett Gardner dropped off in 2016. His homers dipped from 16 to 7. It was also the first full season of his career in which he did not steal at least 20 bases. He passed his almost 50 steal days, and the power surges in 2014 and '15 are gone, too.
Biggest breakout: In his 84 ABs in 2016, RF Aaron Judge struggled with an average of .179. Judge is supposed to be a huge prospect, especially when it comes to power. But his season high HRs in the minors is just 20 HRs, which aren't that significant. It would be nice for the Yanks to get a nice first full season out of Judge in 2017.
Guaranteed star: Since coming to America in 2014, SP Masahiro Tanaka has been pretty good. He was an out away from his first 200 IP season last year, and had a solid ERA of 3.07. Tanaka is definitely their ace this season, and for a couple more years guaranteed, as long as he doesn't opt out of his contract after this year.
The Yankees lineup should look like this.
1. LF: Brett Gardner
2. CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
3. C: Gary Sanchez
4. 1B: Greg Bird
5. 2B: Starlin Castro
6. DH: Matt Holliday
7. RF: Aaron Judge
8. 3B: Chase Headley
9. SS: Ronald Torreyes
Their rotation will most likely be this:.
1. Masahiro Tanaka
2. C.C. Sabathia
3. Michael Pineda
4. Luis Severino
5. Chad Green
SS Didi Gregorius (injured), 1B Chris Carter, RF Aaron Hicks and C Austin Romine will be on the bench.
Aroldis Chapman will be their closer, with Dellin Betances and Tyler Clippard setting him up.
Gregorius will be out a month, but when he comes back, he'll hit second, with Ellsbury moving to ninth. Torreyes will then be on the bench.
Finally, for my prediction, I think the New York Yankees will test out some new methods in 2017, but miss the playoffs.