It would be easy to predict the Yanks will win 102 games in 2023. We (or I on behalf of Yankee.Blue) predicted the Yanks would win 102 wins for 2022, and 102 wins for 2021, and we predicted them for 100 wins for 2019 (2020 was COVID).
What the Yanks have actually done vs what I predicted:
- 99-63 in 2022 — we predicted 102 wins
- 92-70 in 2021 — we predicted 98-102 wins
- 33-27 in 2020 in shortened year due to COVID; no prediction
- 103-59 in 2019 — we predicted 100-62
- 100-62 in 2018 — had them for 100 wins in private text messages but didn’t write article
- 91-71 in 2017 — we predicted 90-72
There is an air of worry about the 2023 team. In trying to put a finger on it, I write this analysis article:
The Yanks did not re-sign Jameson Taillon (14-5 3.91 last year) — he signed with the Cubs — but instead signed Carlos Rodon, the elite 30-yr-old lefty who was 14-8 2.88 last year for the Giants. This is expected to improve their staff in the playoffs — giving them 3 ‘Ace’ Starters — 4 if Severino is in form.
The expected rotation is:
- Gerrit Cole (RH) — age 32
- Nestor Cortes (Lefty) — age 28
- Carlos Rodón (Lefty) — age 30
- Luis Severino (RH) — age 29
- Domingo Germán (RH), Clarke Schmidt (RH), Jhony Brito (RH)
Cole, Cortes, & Severino
Cole was very good last year — 13-8 3.50 and pitched great in both playoff series. And Cortes became the other ace to the staff: 12-4 2.44. Cole is 32 yrs old this year, and Cortes is 28 yrs old. Good ages.
Severino had a good first-full-comeback-year from the Tommy John surgery — 7-3 3.18 in 19 starts (102 innings, 112 K’s only 72 hits allowed). Severino is 29 yrs old now.
Frankie Montas was supposed to be the 5th starter — which would have made this rotation one of the strongest in baseball as Montas is considered a top-of-the-rotation starter — but Montas had shoulder surgery and will be out until August at best. (PS: Montas has now admitted that his shoulder was barking when the Yanks traded for him last July: ““I was like eh-eh. I wasn’t fully 100 percent. I was trying to pitch through it. Of course I got traded to a new team, I wanted to show what I can do.” This is in contrast to him saying his arm felt great in post-game interviews last year after getting beat up on the mound.
- Carlos Rodon had a left forearm strain in Spring training and will not be starting at the beginning of the season, but is expected to join the rotation sometime in the first month.
- Luis Severino had a low-grade lat strain near the end of Spring training, and won’t be starting for the Yanks at the start of the season — but is expected to join the rotation sometime in the first month.
Every year it seems, a pitcher surprises in the Spring and becomes an integral part of the staff. Sometimes that surprise can be a really big surprise — like Ron Guidry in 1977, or Andy Pettitte in 1995, or more recently, Domingo German in 2019, or Nestor Cortes in 2021.
Brito so far looks like he could be a pretty big surprise. He entered the year as the Yankees #27 prospect.
Brito is a 25 year old, lanky, athletic 6’2 160-lb right hander who:
- Was 6-2 3.31 in AAA at Scranton last year, and 11-4 2.96 last year in total (combined AA and AAA action).
- Was put on the 40-man roster in November 2022 by the Yankees to protect him in the Rule 5 draft — so they know what they had.
- Was 7-7 3.55 in 2021 and of course 2020 didn’t exist (no minor league season due to COVID).
- Has been with the Yanks since he was 18, and had Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Brito’s emergence and the depth of having Domingo German (who was 18-4 4.03 in 2019) available to slot into the rotation gives the Yanks confidence they can get through some injury periods. German was 2-5 3.61 last year in 14 starts.
Clarke Schmidt had a good Spring Training still has a ways to go to show that he can be an effective major league starter who gets through a lineup 3 times.
The Starters — Overall:
There are some worries about the depth of this staff with injuries we’ve seen so far. It is designed as a deep, pretty young rotation — but the injuries have placed that depth into the starting rotation to begin the year and that doesn’t bode well.
Getting Rodon was great — but he replaces Taillon who won 14 last year — so it will be difficult for Rodon to do better (during the regular season) than Taillon did last year. The goal is to have 4 aces in the playoffs.
If Rodon and Severino return healthy and pitch well, then the goal is achieved and this is a great staff. And Jhony Brito so far looks like a pleasant surprise and possible saving piece.
The bullpen is expected to be:
- Clay Holmes — Closer (RH)
- Michael King — Setup (RH)
- Jonathan Loáisiga — Setup (RH)
- Ron Marinaccio — Setup (RH)
- Wandy Peralta — Setup (Lefty)
- Lou Trivino — Setup (RH)
- Tommy Kahnle — Setup (RH)
That is an incredible bullpen.
Clay Holmes was the best reliever in baseball the first half of 2022, and made a horrid Aroldis Chapman unneeded. Holmes had some struggles controlling his filthy Sinker in the 2nd half but rebounded at the end of the season. He’s expected to be the ace closer in 2023. If he falters, the Yanks have Loaisiga and Marinaccio with closer stuff.
Michael King was fantastic as the setup man in 2022 until he suffered a stress fracture in his throwing elbow in July. He was shut down for the year but ultimately did not need Tommy John surgery as imaging showed his ulnar collateral ligament to be in tact. “No Tommy John,” said King in September — when imaging was able to be completed after the inflamation died down. “They said the ligament is intact. No partial tearing. It looks great. I was very relieved to hear that. Everything checked out.”
Trivino was a very pleasant surprise last year — the former Ace reliever looked himself down the stretch after the Yanks acquired him in the Montas trade. Marinaccio is lights out. Loaisiga is a lights-out pitcher. Peralta has guts. Kahnle is back too.
Greg Weissert (RH) is a terrific reliever who pitched well in Spring Training but was sent back to AAA because of a numbers game in terms of options available. He’ll no doubt join the staff at some point. Scott Effross (RH) is out for the year after Tommy John surgery this winter.
The Bullpen — Overall:
GREAT pen — but only one lefty. That’s less than they have had in the past — last year besides Wandy they had Aroldis Chapman, Lucas Luetge, and at some points JP Sears and Manny Banuelos. Will they make a trade at some point to get another lefty?
The Yanks are set behind the plate.
The starting infield is slated to be:
- 1B: Anthony Rizzo
- 2B: Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu
- 3B: Josh Donaldson
- SS: Anthony Volpe
- Reserves: Oswaldo Cabrera, Franchy Cordero, Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Volpe has shown to be a tremendous defensive shortstop and a terrific hitter with speed. He shores up the achilles heel of the Yankee infield last year — the play of Isaiah Kiner-Falefa at short.
The Yankees made big moves before the 2022 season to create a Great Defensive infield — bringing back Anthony Rizzo and bringing in Josh Donaldson and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa for shortstop, moving Gleyber Torres back to 2nd. The moves paid off as the Yanks had a great defensive infield — sans the occasional muff by Kiner-Falefa in the field — which was the achilles that reared up and bit them in the playoffs against Houston.
Gleyber Torres looked great defensively last year — played an almost Gold Glove-esq 2nd base for most of the year — and he hit well, especially within the context of a year of historically low batting averages. His power was back and his slash line of 24-76-.257 (.310 OBP) was very similar to his rookie year especially considering the league-wide low batting averages. Gleyber is only 25 yrs old.
Still there are steady rumors that the Yanks may trade Gleyber to open up room in the infield for the Yanks other stud prospect — Oswald Peraza.
Peraza batted .19 i1n Spring Training in 42 at bats, so starts the year in AAA.
Carpenter’s Bat Is Gone
The Yankee infield loses the bat of Matt Carpenter — who had a miracle season for the Yanks in 2022 after being picked up — and then got injured and missed the playoff run. His 15-37-.305 (.412 OBP) slash line in 154 plate appearances will be missed.
Donaldson at 3rd
Josh Donaldson was a controversial figure last season — for striking out constantly and having a poor offensive season (15-62-.222 (.308 OBP) in that year of historically low averages).
Donaldson had an altercation with Tim Anderson of the White Sox early in the season after Anderson accused Donaldson of calling him by a racist term. Donaldson explained he was calling him “Jackie” as a rib — because Anderson had famously called himself “the next Jackie Robinson“. The fault seemed to lie completely with Anderson for a false racist accusation — but it didn’t stop some Yankee fans from calling Donaldson a racist whenever he struck out as the season progressed.
Even with all that, Donaldson gave the Yanks Graig Nettles-esq defense at 3rd and is the starting 3rd baseman coming into the year — manager Aaron Boone saying they feel Donaldson still has the bat speed and there is lot left in his tank at age 37.
One of the questions going into last year was “where would DJ LeMahieu play?” Manager Aaron Boone’s answer at the time was “Everywhere.”. And Boone stayed true to his word — LeMahieu played a Gold Glove 2nd base, 1st base, and 3rd base — good for 541 plate appearances and a 12-46-.261 (.357 OBP) slash line; not bad… in a year of historically low averages.
The Infield — Overall
The Yankee infield is designed to be a tremendous Defensive infield, and one that can produce a lot of offense — especially if Volpe does well as a rookie.
The outfield projects to be:
Aaron Judge is of course coming off one of the greatest seasons of any baseball player ever — setting the ‘clean’ homerun record of 62 and coming ‘this close’ to winning the Triple Crown. He led the Majors in most offensive categories and his 62-131-.311 (.425 OBP) slash line was insane. He finally won the MVP (he was robbed in 2017) but the one award that unfairly eludes him is Gold Glove — he is a Gold Glove outfielder with a rocket arm.
Judge is in his prime — age 31 this year. He now has a massive 9-year contract to live up to — but one expects him to keep on hitting. It will be difficult for him to put up numbers like that again this year — but as long as he hopefully stays healthy — he remains the Yanks big gun.
Harrison Bader was an amazing pickup by the Yanks last year (for Jordan Montgomery). He is regarded as the best defensive centerfielder in baseball and plays with an infectious energy and live bat that helped the Yanks in the playoffs. He starts the year on the injured list with an oblique injury.
Bader only slashed 0-9-.217 (.245 OBP) for the Yanks in 49 appearances for the Yanks at the end of the season last year, but was 3-4-.267 (.389 OBP) in 15 At Bats against Cleveland in the playoffs, and 2-2-.400 (471 OBP) in 15 At Bats against Houston in the ALCS. For his career he has averaged 16-53-.245 (.317 OBP) per 162 games. He is 29 years old.
Left field should be manned by Oswaldo Cabrera, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, and Aaron Hicks. Cabrera is new to the outfield — he came up as an infielder — but made spectacular plays out there in 2022.
Kiner-Falefa is becoming an outfielder for the Yanks as well — he started as a catcher, moved to 3rd base where he won a Gold Glove in Minnesota, then moved to Shortstop.
And Aaron Hicks — is a switch hitter with power who can work the walk. He’s only 33 and he wants to play more. Last year, he slashed 8-40-.216 (.330) in 453 plate appearances (130 games). He had some hot streaks, and had some very cold streaks, and at times looked lost in the outfield — making horrible plays. His body language was bad. So much so that the Yankees traded for a new centerfielder (Bader, giving up Jordan Montgomery in the process).
Yet in early September, with the Yanks in the middle of a playoff run, Hicks complained through the media that he wanted to be traded to a team where he could play regularly to help them win.
Giancarlo Stanton is penciled in as the DH, but Aaron Boone has said he will be trying to get Stanton in as an outfielder at least twice a week — because Stanton seems to hit better when he is also playing the field. Stanton is a pretty good outfielder with a rocket arm.
That will leave DH to be manned by other Yanks: Cabrera, Hicks, Judge to give him an off day, etc.
Giancarlo was mostly healthy last year — 452 plate appearances in 110 games — meaning that for the 2nd year in a row, the Yankees had Judge and Stanton healthy at the same time for at least 2/3 of the season. Stanton slashed a 31-78-.211 (.297 OBP) in the year of historically low averges.
At age 33, this is a big year for Giancarlo Stanton to start laying down the bricks to the infrastructure he’s built of a Hall of Fame career. He comes into the year with 378 career Homers and is on pace for 500+ Homers — with a .264 (.364 OBP) career average. He has hit 30+ Homers 7 times so far and is a 5-time All Star so far. Also last year as Judge approached and passed 61 Homers — it kind of surprised a lot of people to realize that Stanton once hit 59 — in an “oh yeah” kind of way.
As with every season, a lot of the above will change as the season progresses. There will be guys playing for the Yanks in September we couldn’t conceive would be with them. The Yanks will make trades (lefty reliever?, Hicks?, Gleyber?) and there will be injuries.
But overall the Yanks look Stacked going in — great starting staff, phenomenal bullpen, excellent defensive catchers who can swing the bat a bit, incredible infield defense, excellent outfield defense, a powerful lineup, some small-ball hitters like Volpe, Trevino, and Kiner-Falefa, and speed (Volpe, Judge, Bader, Falefa can all steal bases — especially important with all the new rules).
How can you not predict this team for 102 wins? There’s a feeling of worry about that starting staff and injuries — so I could go with 100 wins…
But I’m being bold and am predicting 102-60.
The playoffs is another story. Twelve (12) teams make the playoffs these days so the Yanks’ chances of going all the way are 12-1. Aka don’t bet the house.
But the Yanks are built to go deep in the playoffs. This team is designed to win it all. If luck (health, stadium roofs being closed, etc) go their way.