It’s true that 2013 was not a typical New York Yankees season. They weren’t officially eliminated from playoff contention until the final week but really, it was pretty clear for most of September that the Bronx Bombers had no chance of seeing October Baseball, even though they did win 85 games.
Looking ahead to 2014, the Yankees should be a more fantasy relevant team, at least with the bats, which is where we’ll start.
Projected 2014 Yankees Offense
|1. Jacoby Ellsbury||CF||30||S||570||88||10||60||38||.288|
|2. Derek Jeter||SS||40||R||440||61||6||43||4||.280|
|3. Carlos Beltan||RF||37||S||550||80||23||90||3||.289|
|4. Mark Teixeira||1B||34||S||405||54||24||77||1||.252|
|5. Brian McCann||C||30||L||445||49||26||71||2||.265|
|6. Alfonso Soriano||DH||38||R||560||62||31||97||15||.257|
|7. Brett Gardner||LF||30||L||525||54||7||44||30||.270|
|8. Kelly Johnson||2B||32||L||435||46||20||62||10||.244|
|9. Eduardo Nunez||3B||27||R||330||32||4||28||11||.260|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano for sure. Keep a close eye on Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Kelly Johnson.
Yes, I just basically named the entire lineup, but it’s not a cop-out.
The big question with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano revolves around health. of those guys in the Top-6 revolves around how often they’ll be on the field. If they’re on the field, they’ll all be big contributors in any league.
We’ll get to Kelly Johnson a bit later, but Derek Jeter ss worth looking at if he’s out there — even if only because of the lack of depth at the shortstop position. It’s still not a position with many great players so if he can be around .300 and 10 homers, there’s value. I doubt Jeter will play enough games for terribly good counted numbers, but the potential is there.
As for Brett Gardner, he’s a good player and there’s a lot of potential for him to be a poor man’s Ellsbury type of guy. The problem is that his skill sets will not flourish from a fantasy point of view batting in the 7-9 spot on the order. If he had a bit more power and could drive in more runs, I’d think different. But I don’t know how a speed guy will generate great numbers batting there. Still, if you’re lagging in steals and have power set, he’s not a bad guy to have on the roster.
Now, if a scenario presents itself where Gardner would hit in one of the first two spots of the order, he’ll score more runs and become a lot more valuable. But for now, don’t think he’ll contribute much more than stolen bases.
Projected 2014 Yankees Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Everyone listed.
We’ll get to my thoughts on Hiroki Kuroda a little further down, so we’ll skip him here.
The best days of C.C. Sabathia are behind us, but we can expect a better Sabathia in 2014 than we got in 2013. His career just doesn’t suggest that he’ll be a pitcher struggling to keep his ERA under 5.00 again. Don’t expect him to be a fantasy ace or anything like that, but he can be valuable in the right rotation.
I’m a big fan of Ivan Nova and think it’s important to remember that he’s only going to be 27 this year. I don’t doubt that he can pitch, but I wish we could count on 30 or more starts from him throughout a season. Still, the ones you do get should be pretty good.
You may be wondering about the omission of Michael Pineda here. Just remember that he hasn’t thrown a Major League pitch since 2011 and had just over 40 Minor League innings next year. I’m not ready to call him a fantasy factor just yet, but would be more than willing to be proven wrong.
As for David Robertson. I like him. I like him a lot. It’s hard to imagine a guy having bigger shoes to fill than him, but by his stuff and what he’s done in recent years, this is a guy who can be just as good in 2014 as Mariano Rivera was in 2013.
- Fantasy Star: Brian McCann
I do worry a bit about the decline in batting average he’s shown since 2010, and the fact that he hasn’t played in 130 games since 2010. Still, signing with the Yanks was a great move for Brian McCann.
Yankee Stadium will do big things for his power numbers, which is why I expect him to be closer to 30 than 20. Having the DH to rely on will also be a big advantage for him, as he’ll be able to stay fresh and in the lineup more.
- Fantasy Bust: Hiroki Kuroda
I’ve been a fan of Hiroki Kuroda in the past, but I’m pretty guarded here. I had a chance to keep him for a relatively low price in my most competitive roto league, and decided that it was better to take my chances in the auction.
Now, the last few months of 2013 inflated Kuroda’s numbers, no doubt about it. But I’d like to break his 2013 numbers down a little deeper.
Kuroda's Extreme Months of 2013
So, what did those months do to his overall numbers throughout the year.
Hiroki Kuroda: 2013 Progression
The great month of July and the terrible months of August and September were all outliers for the kind of pitcher Kuroda actually is. I focus a little more on the negative here for a few reasons.
- It’s fantasy, and you always have to pay more attention to the bad and be ready to deal with it.
- August and September are two months, while July is only one.
- August and September come after September on the calender.
- No. 2 is particularly relevant when we’re dealing with a guy who’ll be 39 on Opening Day. When dealing with a guy that old who finished the previous year poorly, you have to be very cautious.
I gave him some slack with the projected numbers, but I have this feeling that July of 2013 might have been Kuroda’s last stand as a great Major League pitcher.
I thought about giving this spot to C.C. Sabathia but as we went over above, I expect him to come back pretty well in 2014. Also, when you have a year as bad as he did in 2014, you really set the bar low and with lower expectations, it’s hard to be a bust.
- Prospect Watch: Zoilo Almonte
You were probably expecting to see the name Gary Sanchez here. He is their top prospect but with the addition of McCann, I see Sanchez more as trade-bait at this point. If he’s going to make a big fantasy impact in 2014, smart money says it won’t be with the Yankees.
That brings us to Zoilo Almonte, a man who actually played a little for the Yankees in 2013 and in the minors, became a little more well-rounded as a hitter.
Prior to 2013, Almonte’s MiLB numbers suggested that he was something of a poor man’s Alfonso Soriano. He could hit for decent power and swipe bases, but lacked in average. In 2013, he flipped that a little bit, falling just short of a .300 average in the minors.
Now, the Yankees have something of a crowded outfield, especially when you consider that the DH, Soriano, will probably need to play some games in the field with the other veterans needing days off in the field. Still, the chances of those guys getting through a year completely healthy are slim to none.
Because of that and his improving as an all-around weapon at the plate, if any Yankees prospect makes a positive impact on fantasy baseball in 2014, this will be the guy. That’s not to say he’s the best prospect, but all of the better ones are either blocked, or too young to expect anything from in 2014.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Kelly Johnson
Unlike Gardner, I can see Kelly Johnson flourishing at the bottom of the order. Also, when you factor in the possibilities of some of the top guys in the order getting hurt and missing some time, it’s not hard to see Johnson logging significant at-bats in the top half of the Yankees order.
I love his left handed power swing in that park. He’ll also have eligibility at second base and the outfield to start the year and could well pick it up at third base during the year. I wish his average was a little better, but he can provide some nice utility value with the power.
- Final Thoughts:
There’s a lot of potential with the Yankees, but I’m finding it strangely hard to get too excited about the fantasy value of this team, even in what appears to be a pretty competent offense.
Here’s the biggest problem. When I think about basically every regular on this team, I have this thought, or a very similar one.
It’s a good thing (insert player name) is on an American League team, because they’re going to need to log some time at DH to stay fresh.
The problem is that there’s only one DH per team and if Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, and Soriano, are all in the lineup, one will likely have to be a DH. How do guys like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann get DH time. They can certainly be thankful that Alex Rodriguez no longer fits into that mix.
If I’m drafting a player on the Yankees, I’m worried about not only them staying healthy, but everyone around them who will help their numbers.
The Yanks don’t lack big names. But from a real baseball perspective and a fantasy perspective, I see them under-performing.
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