Are the Yankees the Imperial Army again?

Season In Review: New York Yankees

The next part of our blog series will follow up on our track through the AL East with none other than the New York Yankees. What else do we have to say about the team that has seen 27 World Series Rings in their franchise history than nothing but excellence is expected, and of the past ten years, we haven’t seen that level of excellence achieved. Why is this the case? That question will be answered later on inside of this blog post. Before we get into that though, we should talk about this past season of Yankees baseball. 

Yankees in 2019:

You can see in this graphic that Yankees had a stellar regular season that ultimately ended due to the Houston Astros in the ALCS. Albeit there may be many issues that have came to light with the Astros and their sign stealing, it still does not change the fact that the Yankees lost. I know for many of the Yankees faithful that 103-59 is not quite the season you want to have end up in an ALCS loss, but it is the reality that many players and fans will need to deal with for this past season. There is much to be said for a team however that incurred many injuries over the course of the season and to fight the way they did. Especially with a team batting average of .267 on the year. Which was fourth of fifteen in the AL. Not only did they hit really well, they also were no slouch on the mound, posting the sixth best ERA on the mound in the AL due to a strong bullpen. There strongest point may have been the long ball this past season, where they finished second in the AL. I believe that this team should be primed for more performances like this because of the division that they play in coupled with the stadium they call home for 81 games a year.

Key Points:

DJ LeMahieu:

The Yankees had some key players show up this past season but none were better than DJ LeMahieu. His stats are below.

DJ had a great season for the New York Yankees carrying a slash line of .327/.375/.423 during his age 31 season. Not only that he slugged his way to 26 home runs during the season and 102 RBIS. You can see some of his highlights in this video below.

DJ LeMahieu Highlights for 2019 season

You can see that his approach at the plate is rather elite and he still may be in his prime at this moment. DJ will almost certainly be plugged into the second base slot for the Yankees in the 2019 where he will complete the second year of his two year deal. There can be much to say about DJ especially the fact that he finished 4th in the AL MVP race. One of the main reasons that he had this success compared to his past years was the difference in his barrel % of 7.5% compared to his 2018 mark of 5.2%. This % is a difference of only 15 barrels during the course of the season. This is just a signal that DJ was on point last season with his mechanics and his mental side of the game. If he can keep this up, I could easily see him repeating this and getting a larger contract with the Yankees again after the completion of next season. On top of his other stats, DJ also recording a top 1% xBA, of .322. The xBA stat is one that records the likelihood of a hit based on the exit velocity of a ball that is put into play. You can clearly see that his exit velocity is elite with an average velocity of 91.7 MPH on a total of 517 batted balls. Below are rankings for DJ LeMahieu in runs, hits, and batting average from https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/. Where you can see that he consistently bats for average and is a prime force when it comes to scoring runs for his team.

DJ LeMahieu Rankings

Runs

YearRRank
20191099th in AL
20189012th in NL
20179510th in NL
20161046th in NL
20158516th in NL

Hits

YearHRank
20191973rd in AL
20171895th in NL
20161923rd in NL
201517011th in NL

Batting Average

YearAVGRank
2019.3272nd in AL
2017.3107th in NL
2016.3481st in NL
2015.30110th in NL
via Baseballsavant

Aaron Judge:

When you think the face of the Yankees, it is hard to not think of Aaron Judge. The 27-year-old slugger is a catalyst for the Yankees and beloved by the fan base with much good reason. For an overview of Aaron’s injury shortened season, look below. Aaron batted at a competent rate with a split of .272/.381/.540. He did that all on the back of a shortened season due to some injuries, but he was still an important cog in the Yankees’ machine. That is pretty clear with the second highest WAR on the team behind DJ. The only downside to his stats were his 55 RBIs, which could be said that there were not many runners on when he got his big hits and when there were he would leave them on base.

The only downside to Aaron Judge is his tendency for the strikeout. Over the past 3 seasons, he had struck out on average of 167 times a year or 37.5% of his at-bats for the past three seasons. Ultimately, striking out is his fatal flaw, if he is not able to hit the long ball as much, this could be another Chris Davis situation. In fact, Chris Davis in his career has struck out 37.25% of the time and over the past three season has averaged 37.62% Ks per at-bat. This is a worrisome stat, which Aaron must fix if he is willing to take his game to the next level (Mike Trout level).

Enough with the bad on Aaron, what he lacks in his contact ability at times, he makes up for it in the field. He had a dWAR of 1.6 this past season, which is well above average. In his career, he has always been an above-average defender with a 1.6 dWAR mark. In fact, Aaron did not record a single error in the outfield this past year. Along with that, he had 7 assists on the year. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of his 2019 defensive highlights.

Just in case you wanted to hear a little more about how good Aaron Judge is you should check out his Barrel % and Exit Velocity stats. He averaged a 20.2% barrel percentage, of 48 barrels on 238 batted balls. This is good enough for the top 1% in the league. Not only that, he also averaged an Exit Velo of 95.9 MPH during the course of last season, also top 1%. All in all, you have a 6 foot 7 inch slugger that bops baseballs. It doesn’t matter that he strikes out countless times right now, but that is a trend to watch. All that matters now is that his BB% is in the top 5 percent in the league and he yields a high barrel %. Here is to hoping he is able to stay healthy all season and compete for an AL MVP.

Gleyber Torres:

The last bright spots on the Yankees worth mentioning would be Gleyber Torres. The 22-year-old (turning 23 on December 13th) from Caracas, Venezuela had a great season last year. He was an All-Star for the second year in as many years he has played in the MLB. This past year was worth all of the recognition too. In the graphic below, you can see a summary of his 2019 season.

Gleyber had the best season of his young career, holding a 3.9 WAR. He was an incredibly important player on the offensive side of the ball with a 4.3 oWAR. Which is higher than his 2.9 he posted in 2018. He held a split of .278/.337/.535 during the year, which is a pretty good split for his second year of his career. I would say that he looks to be trending up and appears to be the next big time Yankee for the certain future. Lest we remind you that he was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade to Chicago. Once again, we see the Cubs prowess in scouting talent; however, he looks to become one of the faces of Yankees for years to come. With his tremendous power, solid contact ability, slightly average defensive with a tendency to make an error and youth, we should see him progress into a force to be reckoned with. Just take a look at this highlight video from 2019.

In this highlight video, you can see his clear pull side power approach shine. Surprising at his young age, he is able to also hit opposite field with tremendous talent. The way that he can easily pull an outside pitch and ride it opposite field shows how much power he truly possesses. He hit 41% of his pitches pull side this past season, 35% straight up the middle, and 24% were to the opposite field. One thing he will need to compete with is getting shifted on more, where he got shifted against 33% of his plate appearances in 2019. Not only at the plate is he talented, but in the field is not a liability. Look for the young Padawan to develop nicely over the course of the next few years.

Honorable Mention:

There are few players that deserve praise for their 2019 seasons on the Yankees. Those players are Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, and Zack Britton. All of these fine men lead the Yankees through the season and there will be plenty of talk about them later.

Yankees Starting Pitching:

Needless to say but the Yankees pitchers last season have seen better days. Only one of their starters had an ERA lower than 4 on the season. To go along with that, they did not have a starter pitch over 185 innings. This is an issue that the Yankees went out to fix this offseason picking up a stellar piece in Gerrit Cole with a nine year, 324 million dollar contract late on Tuesday, December 10th. You may argue that they overpaid but, they needed to. Their pitching staff last season lacked the ability to strike out hitters, with James Paxton as their leader at 186 strikeouts. Gerrit would have almost doubled that number with 326 strikeouts in the season. Not to mention, he also would have lead the Yankees in WAR. Replacing CC Sabithia, Gerrit will be a huge upgrade. There will be more about him later, but first the Yankees will need to hope that their studs Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Domingo German get better with the addition of Cole.

Yankees Fielding:

You will hope to see the Yankees Fielding improve from this past season. I know many may say that errors are not a valuable stat, but let me remind you of the definition of an error. This definition brought to you by MLB.com,

” A fielder is given an error if, in the judgment of the official scorer, he fails to convert an out on a play that an average fielder should have made. Fielders can also be given errors if they make a poor play that allows one or more runners to advance on the bases. A batter does not necessarily need to reach base for a fielder to be given an error. If he drops a foul ball that extends an at-bat, that fielder can also be assessed an error.” http://m.mlb.com/glossary/standard-stats/error

There are a few players that had a high error total on the Yankees from the season last year including Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela.

Gary’s dWAR for the past season was at .7 but he is a player who lives on the extremes for catcher and he has experiences some issues with the past balls. In the video below, you can see some of those issues for yourself. Yes he may have some pitchers that are difficult to catch but he should work on the past ball and error problem. He has a chance to be a great catcher, he just needs to work on a few things and we could see a vast improvement.

Gleyber and Gio share one thing in common with some of their errors and that is that they play some of the harder positions in baseball. Gleyber is young and hopefully some of errors should curtail over time. Gio is playing the hot corner that is more prone to errors than any other positions. If the Yankees want to help their pitching staff out more, they will need to work on some fielding. Especially for a pitching staff that is playing in one of the most hitter friendly confines in the MLB.

Future of the Imperial Army: 

So, you’re probably wondering, what is the future of the Bronx Bombers? Well let me tell you, it certainly looks well. They are playing in one of the weaker divisions in the MLB. Their only real competition appears to be the Tampa Bay Rays, and maybe… just maybe the Red Sox, but I’m not going to hold my breathe. Now, that the Dark Side has claimed Gerrit Cole, its a forgone conclusion that they will see another 100 win season. However, like most of us know, money can’t buy everything. If it could the Yankees would win the World Series every year. Just look at the Rays, they were one of the lower paid teams, yet were still competitive in the postseason. This season, you saw the National take away a World Series that most pundits would believe belonged to Houston after the Greinke trade. What I am saying is that, this will likely help them get to a World Series, but if they win, it depends on their players and how they shine in the spotlight, maybe the Yankees would use Gerrit Cole Game 7? Wondering aside, just look at Gerrit’s dominance below.

Gerrit Cole 2019 Highlights

Key Core:

The Yankees, Dark Side’s, key core looks to be based around Gerrit Cole, James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Domingo German starting on the mound with their stellar bullpen of Chapman, Green, Britton, and Ottavino. That looks much like a solid core to anyone on paper. You have all of the star power that a team would possible need on the mound. Even in the field with a lineup of Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu and more seems to be a lineup that belongs in an All-Star game or Hollywood movie. You can find very little at fault for a slugging team like this which fits the name Bronx Bombers. The scene is set, the curtains will open in March, now is the time the Yankees fans want to show their dominance again.

Key Prospects:

The Yankees have very limited spots on their MLB roster for some of their prospects but injuries happen and that may lead to you hearing some of these names.

These are the top ten prospects in the Yankees Organization currently. With Deivi Garcia. Deivi is only 20 years old and has been solid in the Minors so far. He has a career MILB ERA of 3.37 in 65 total games started. Opponents have batted .202 against him so far. He has had a very easy go until of late when he went to AAA. In 40 innings of work, he had a 5.40 ERA and saw his strikeout per inning lower. However, with this taste of AAA baseball, he should come back this next season and compete more effectively in theory. This means that the Yankees could see Deivi in pinstripes within 1-3 years depending on his development.

With the other prospects, the Yankees seem to have a solid blend of pitchers and hitters (5 and 5). With that, I would like to highlight Jasson Dominguez, who is currently 16 years old. Who the Yankees have spent a total of 5.1 Million dollars on in International signing pool money. He has a long way to go before this switch-hitter will reach his ceiling, but he has earned many great comps so far such as Mike Trout, Mickey Mantle, and Bo Jackson.

There is always room for fresh young talent at the MLB level, the Yankees have no shortage of that. It will take many pieces falling into place for some of these prospects to see the big league field this season but, it is always possible. The real question shouldn’t been when do they see the field, it should be, how many World Series will these young guys win?

Predictions: 

This Yankees team is primed for a successful 2020 campaign that could be more successful than the 2019 campaign. The ultimate prediction will be that the Yankees are a 100 plus win team, unless something serious happens, Gerrit Cole should compete for a Cy Young, and that any of the slew of studs could be the MVP. This season is World Series or Bust, just ask the fans, they threatened to stop going to games without signing Cole. This is a great Christmas to be a Yankees fan, but not for the rest of the league. Sorry Boston, your fun looks to be over as the Imperial Army of New York appears to bull over their competition for years to come. Also, don’t count the Yankees out from signing more players, after all, we are talking about the Yankees and like always check out our latest Podcast! Info down below.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/redboxing-baseball/id1474240574?i=1000459318595

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