Yankees 25-man Roster Predictions

Spring training has finally arrived! Catchers and pitchers have reported to camp, and I reassure you: baseball will be back before you know it. Here are my pre-spring-training predictions for how the Yankees 25-man roster will turn out:

C (2)

Starter: Gary Sanchez

There is no doubt that 2018 was a struggle for Yankees injury-ridden backstop Gary Sanchez, whose batting line certainly left a lot to be desired…

  • PA: 374
  • HR: 18
  • AVG: .186
  • OBP: .291

FanGraphs’ Depth Charts projects Sanchez to rebound big time in 2019 (31 HRs and .245 AVG in 131 games).

Backup: Austin Romine

While Romine’s offensive output (.244 AVG and .295 OBP but did hit for some power — 10 HRs) was unspectacular in 2019, he played very well defensively; Romine was 6 defensive runs saved above average (6 DRS per FanGraphs).

1B (2)

Starter: Luke Voit

Luke Voit was one of the biggest surprises in the 2018 season. He was involved in a trade (from the Cardinals) that was initially deemed a minor move, but boy did it pay off for the Yanks. Voit put up video-game numbers…

  • PA: 148
  • AVG: .333
  • OBP: .405
  • HR: 14
  • RBI: 33

Strikeouts remained an issue (26.4% K rate), but it didn’t seem to hinder Voit at all.

Backup: Greg Bird

Greg Bird has struggled mightily the last two seasons; in both of which he was was heavily plagued with a variety of injuries. In 2018, he hit for a .199 AVG and had an OBP of .286. Bird still offers above average power (11 HRs in 311 PAs) and will provide Aaron Boone with a power bat off the bench.

2B (1)

Starter: Gleyber Torres

Torres’ much anticipated 2018 rookie campaign couldn’t have gone any better. He hit 24 HRs and put up a .271 AVG and a .340 OBP in 484 PAs. His defense at 2B was a tab below average (-1 DRS).

SS (1)

Starter: Troy Tulowitzki

With Gregorious missing the first few months of the season due to TJ surgery, Tulo is penciled in as the starting SS, assuming he can stay healthy (and that is a big “if”), something he has never been able to do.

3B (1)

Starter: Miguel Andujar

Andujar had a huge breakout last year, putting up ridiculous numbers as a rookie…

  • PA: 606
  • AVG: .297
  • OBP: .328
  • HR: 27
  • RBI: 92
  • 2B: 47

Unfortunately, his fielding stats were on the opposite end of the spectrum…

  • DRS: -25
  • UZR/150: -24.5
  • E (errors): 15

RF (1)

Starter: Aaron Judge

Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP Images

Although Judge regressed in nearly every category in 2018, he was still an extremely valuable player (5.0 WAR)…

  • Games – 2017: 155; 2018: 112
  • AVG – 2017: .284; 2018: .278
  • OBP – 2017: .422; 2018: .392
  • HR – 2017: 52; 2018: 27
  • RBI: 2017: 114; 2018: 67

Judge is not only the face of this franchise; he is arguably one of the faces of the MLB.

CF (1)

Starter: Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks is one of the most under-appreciated players in all of baseball. Despite hitting for an average south of .250, Hicks generated a lot of walks (15.5%) and power (27 HRs), and he even stole 11 bags. Historically, he’s been a very good defender in CF (in 2018, he put up a -3 DRS, atypical of his past performance in CF). Hicks accrued nearly 5 WAR (4.9).

LF (2)

Starter: Brett Gardner

Veteran outfielder Brett Gardner continues to perform at an adequate level. His average was down quite a bit last year (went from .264 to .236), but he still stole 11 bases and added 12 big flies. He remains a tough out (10.7% BB rate and 17.6% K rate) and should get the majority of ABs at LF (vs RHP).

Backup: Clint Frazier

Clint Frazier was sidelined with a concussion, which caused him to miss a large duration of the season. He hit really well when he was healthy…

  • AAA
    • PA: 216
    • AVG: .311
    • OBP: .389
    • HR: 10
  • MLB
    • PA: 41
    • AVG: .265
    • OBP: .390
    • HR: 0

Though his AAA strikeout rate was high (24.1% in AAA), he frequently drew walks (10.6% BB rate in AAA).

As of right now, I see Brett Gardner as the starter; it’s hard to know what to expect from Frazier when he hasn’t played in so long. I suspect Frazier will start against LHPs, and he could play his way to a starting spot if he performs well.

DH (1)

Starter: Giancarlo Stanton

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Stanton’s first year with the Yanks was solid but did not come anywhere near his spectacular 2017 season (59 HRs and .281 AVG) with the Marlins. Stanton slugged 38 HRs and hit only .266, accumulating 4+ WAR last year.

UTL (1)

DJ LeMahieu

Free-agent acquisition DJ LeMahieu will likely see a fair share of time all around the diamond. Last year, he hit a career-high 15 HRs and put up a .276 AVG and .321 OBP, also adding 6 SBs. LeMahieu is more renowned for his phenomenal defense; he was 18 defensive runs saved above average (18 DRS per FanGraphs). DJ will surely be an upgrade over what Neil Walker accomplished last season.

SP (5)

No. 1: Luis Severino

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Though Severino’s performance deteriorated in the 2nd half, he still put up excellent numbers, and he is the clear ace of this staff…

  • IP: 191.1
  • W: 19
  • K/9: 10.35
  • BB/9: 2.16
  • ERA: 3.39
  • WAR: 5.7

No. 2: James Paxton

The Yankees acquired southpaw James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners early in the offseason. His biggest issue in the past couple years has been his inability to stay healthy. His numbers last year were very good, and he even pitched a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays…

  • IP: 160.1
  • K/9: 11.68
  • BB/9: 2.36
  • ERA: 3.76
  • WAR: 3.8

No. 3: Masahiro Tanaka

Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka bounced back from a rough 2017 campaign. His ERA dropped from 4.74 to to 3.75. He continued to generate plenty of swings and misses (K/9: 9.17), and he yielded very few free passes (BB/9: 2.02). HRs were still an issue (HR/9: 1.44) and are likely to be a problem going forward.

No. 4: J.A. Happ

After trading for Happ at the trade deadline in 2018, the Yanks have must have liked what they had seen, as they signed him as FA this offseason. He was a very dependable and productive pitcher last year…

  • IP: 177.2
  • K/9: 9.78
  • BB/9: 2.58
  • ERA: 3.65
  • WAR: 3.2

No. 5: CC Sabathia

Sabathia continues to pitch at a high level (which is quite frankly remarkable considering he is 38), as conveyed by his 2018 stat-line…

  • IP: 153
  • K/9: 8.24
  • BB/9: 3.00
  • ERA: 3.65
  • WAR: 2.5

RP (7)

CL: Aroldis Chapman

Chapman struck out over 16 batters per 9 IP, the highest rate in the majors. His walk rate took a step back however, as Aroldis gave up over 5 walks per 9 IP. Overall, he was very effective in 2018, posting a 2.45 ERA and 1.9 WAR.

SU: Dellin Betances

Photo: N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Dellin Betandes was arguably the Yankees best reliever in 2018 and one of the best relievers in baseball from June on…

March 29 – May 29

  • IP: 23
  • K/9: 15.65
  • BB/9: 3.52
  • HR/9: 1.57
  • ERA: 4.30

June 1 – September 28

  • IP: 43.2
  • K/9: 15.46
  • BB/9: 3.50
  • HR/9: 0.62
  • ERA: 1.85

RP: Zack Britton

The Yankees brought back Zack Britton in hopes of further bolstering there all-mighty bullpen. He is looking to rebound from a tough 2018 season in which he was recovering from an injury. He walked around 4.6 batters / 9 IP and his strikeout rate was only 7.5 (K/9).

RP: Chad Green

Chad Green’s success from 2017 carried over into 2018. He struck out over 11 batters per 9 IP and he walked under 2 batters per 9 IP. His ERA was 2.5 and he pitched 75.2 innings. One possible area of concern going forward for Green is his susceptibility to the long ball. His HR/9 doubled from 2017 to 2018 (2017 HR/9: 0.52; 2018 HR/9: 1.07). On a positive note, Green has the ability to last multiple innings, something that sets him apart from his peers.

RP: Adam Ottavino

Ottavino is undoubtedly a fantastic addition to the Yanks pen. He improved in every single statistical category in 2018 (after a super rough 2017 season)…

2017

  • IP: 53.1
  • K/9: 10.63
  • BB/9: 6.58
  • HR/9: 1.35
  • ERA: 5.06
  • WAR: -0.1

2018

  • IP: 77.2
  • K/9: 12.98
  • BB/9: 4.17
  • HR/9: 0.58
  • ERA: 2.43
  • WAR: 2.0

RP: Jonathan Holder

Holder broke out in 2018, posting solid numbers across the board. He struck out over 8 batters per 9 IP and walked 2.59 batters per 9 IP. His ERA was a smidge over 3.00, and he accrued 1.3 WAR in 2018. Like Chad Green, Holder is capable of going multiple innings.

RP: Jonathan Loaisiga

Loaisiga performed exceptionally well in 2018, especially in the minors…

  • A+: 20 IP, 11.7 K/9, 0.45 BB/9, 0 HR/9, 52% GBs, and 1.35 ERA
  • AA: 34.1 IP, 10.49 K/9, 1.57 BB/9, 1.57 HR/9, 38.7% GBs, and 3.93 ERA

Although Loaisiga had an ERA over 5.00 in 24.2 IP in the majors, other metrics suggest he may have been misfortunate to some degree…

  • FIP: 3.53
  • xFIP: 2.95

His strikeout rate was very high (12.04 K/9), as was his walk rate (4.38 BB/9). Loaisiga will be best utilized as a multi-inning reliever.

Other candidates to make 25-man roster…

  • Jacoby Ellsbury: due to plantar fasciitis, he will not be reporting to ST until March. Ellsbury missed all of last season due to injury and I suspect that one of two things happen…
    1. Ellsbury will start 2019 on the IL, OR
    1. Ellsbury will demonstrate he is healthy and the Yankees will look to trade him (no room for him with Judge in RF, Hicks in CF, and Gardner + Frazier are superior over him)
  • Tommy Kahnle: he was incredible in 2017 (K/9: 13.79; BB/9: 2.44; ERA: 2.59), but he was atrocious in 2018 (K/9: 11.57; BB/9: 5.79; ERA: 6.56). He is out of minor league options, so if he pitches well in ST, I suspect the Yankees will look to move him
  • Domingo German: his 5.57 ERA sends off a distorted message. He really did well in some areas of the game (K/9: 10.72; BB/9: 3.47; FIP: 4.39; xFIP: 3.94) but struggled in others (BB/9: 3.47 and HR/9: 1.58).
  • Stephen Tarpley: he had a 3.00 ERA in 9 MLB IP. His AAA numbers were very good as well…
    • IP: 34
    • K/9: 10.06
    • BB/9: 2.91
    • GB%: 66.3
    • ERA: 2.65

Projected Lineups

vs LHP

  1. CF Aaron Hicks
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. DH Giancarlo Stanton
  4. 3B Miguel Andujar
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. 1B Luke Voit
  7. 2B Gleyber Torres
  8. LF Clint Frazier
  9. SS Troy Tulowitzki

vs RHP

  1. CF Aaron Hicks
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. DH Giancarlo Stanton
  4. 3B Miguel Andujar
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. 2B Gleyber Torres
  7. 1B Luke Voit
  8. SS Troy Tulowtizki
  9. LF Brett Gardner

Thanks for reading. Feel free to copy and paste the lineup and roster slots/spots below and make your own predictions… and be sure to follow me @MaxGold81356590

  • C
  • 1B
  • 2B
  • SS
  • 3B
  • LF
  • CF
  • RF
  • DH
  • SP
  • RP

vs LHP

vs RHP

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