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New York Yankees: New Year, New Team

New York Yankees: New Year, New Team Image via Sportsgraphics36

MLB

New York Yankees

For the second time in three years, the New York Yankees failed to make the playoffs. The Yankees offense struggled for much of the 2016 season as they ranked 22nd in runs scored (680), 20th in team batting average (.252), and 25th in slugging percentage (.314). Second baseman Starlin Castro led the Yankees with 70 RBI’s. The 26-year-old hit 21 home runs and hit .270 with a .300 OBP. Two thousand and sixteen was Castro’s first season in New York after he spent six seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He set his career high in home runs in 2016, and almost doubled his WAR from the 2015 season (0.7 in 2015 and 1.3 in 2016).

Outfielder Carlos Beltran led the Yankees with 22 home runs in 2016. That was before he was traded to the Texas Rangers for minor league right-handers Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson, and Nick Green. Beltran spent two and a half seasons with the Yankees and was having his best season with New York in 2016. In 99 games for the Yankees last season Beltran hit .304 with a .344 OBP and 1.7 WAR. The Yankees capitalized on Beltran’s high value and landed three young pitchers for the future. Tate seems to have the highest upside for the Yankees. He has a plus fastball that tops out about 96 or 97 MPH. In addition to his fastball, Tate has an above average slider and change-up that could get him into the major leagues as soon as the 2017 season. Tate has the stuff to be a starter but could develop into a shut-down late inning reliever for the Yankees.

Catcher Gary Sanchez gave the Yankees a shot in the arm towards the end of the 2016 season. Sanchez played in 53 games for the Yankees last season and logged 201 at-bats. In those 201 at-bats, Sanchez smashed 20 home runs and drove in 42 runs. He had a .299 batting average, .376 OBP, and .657 slugging percentage in his short time in the majors last season. Sanchez’s offensive explosion kept the Yankees in the hunt down the stretch before they were eventually eliminated from playoff contention.

The New York Yankees pitching staff did its part to keep the Yankees in the playoff hunt. Masahiro Tanaka put up ace like numbers for New York last season. In 31 starts, Tanaka posted a 3.07 ERA with 165 strikeouts in 199.2 innings. Tanaka posted a career high in innings pitched, games started, strikeouts, wins, and WAR. Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia were the only other pitchers to start 30 games for the Yankees in 2016. Neither one of them posted Tanaka like numbers. Pineda had a 4.82 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 175.2 innings. Sabathia’s ERA was better (3.91), but C.C. only had 152 strikeouts in 179.2 innings.

After Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were dealt at the trade deadline, Dellin Betances became the go-to option out of the bullpen for the Yankees. Betances appeared in 73 games last season, and recorded a 3.08 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 73 innings pitched. Even though the Yankees pitching staff ended up 7th in major league baseball with a 1.26 WHIP, and 8th with a .248 batting average against, the Yankees still finished nine games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.


Off-Season Moves:

This off-season, the New York Yankees traded catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for right-handers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. With Gary Sanchez bursting onto the scene in 2016, there was no need to keep McCann. McCann hit 20 home runs to go along with his 58 RBI’s for the Yankees last season. He hit .242 and posted a 0.9 WAR in 130 games in 2016. This move was made in an effort for the Yankees to get younger, and to ensure that Sanchez has a position at the major league level.

Another move by the Yankees this off-season was the signing of veteran outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday signed a one-year deal worth $13 million to essentially replace Carlos Beltran. Holliday appeared in 110 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016, and hit 20 home runs. He recorded his lowest WAR since his rookie season (0.3), and hit only .246.

Perhaps the most important signing of the off-season for the New York Yankees was that of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman and the Yankees agreed on a five-year, $86 million deal that makes Chapman the highest paid closer in the game of baseball. The fire-balling lefty had a 2.01 ERA with the Yankees before being traded to the Cubs at the trade deadline. With the Cubs, he had a 1.01 ERA and helped the Cubs win the World Series. At the 2016 trade deadline, the Yankees shipped Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for a package of players headlined by Gleyber Torres. Torres shot to the top of the Yankees prospect list. To have a player like Torres waiting in the wings, and to have the guy back who you traded away is a win-win for the New York Yankees.

Expectations For 2017:

With Masahiro Tanaka poised to have another solid season in 2017, the Yankees could contend for a wild card spot. The AL East is considered one of the best divisions in baseball, and rightfully so. The Red Sox have added pieces to their club that will make them hard to beat.

It will be interesting to see what the Yankees get from a full season of Gary Sanchez. It will be proven fairly quickly either that his big bat was a fluke last season or that he is a 45-50 home run guy. New York will be getting their elite closer back to shut games down in the 9th. He, paired with Betances, will give the Yankees a 1-2 punch in the latter stages of games. Youngsters like Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro need to step up for the Yankees and start producing some real numbers.

The Yankees do not have a solid rotation behind Tanaka. Expect this issue to be resolved at some point in 2017. New York definitely has the prospects to trade for a two or three starter to compliment their ace.

Right now, the line-up is not producing enough runs for the Yankees to have a shot at winning ball games. Gary Sanchez should be a help to this problem, but the real help with come towards the end of 2017, and even into the beginning of the 2018 season as some prospects mature and make it to the majors.

If everything falls right for the Yankees in 2017 (someone steps up behind Tanaka, and the offense finds a groove), the Yankees will be in the hunt for a wild card spot. They are not good enough to compete with the Red Sox in 2017, but expect that to change as the farm system starts to pay off.

Summary:

The New York Yankees have an opportunity to return to their dominance of a few years ago. With a pipeline of young prospects that include Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, and Jorge Mateo to compliment solid major league players in the likes of Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, and Gary Sanchez; the Yankees will be a tough team to beat….in 2018 or so.

TSJ Sports Radio presents Outside Tha Locker Room. Hottest Takes in the game

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