If Phil Hughes pitches like Bill James projects him to, the Yankees will be very very happy. (Image: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Bill James Projections: New York Yankees

Last week, the 2013 Bill James projections were released to FanGraphs. Unfortunately, they are only available on the individual player pages (you’ll have to go here to pay for the full spreadsheet), but I thought it might be interesting to see what he projects for the Yankees next year.

***Before I start, keep in mind that Bill James projections are generally very optimistic – you should not expect these numbers from the players next year. If anything, the following projections are the players’ ceiling; it’s possible that they will be this productive, but unlikely that they’ll be any better. It’s very fun to dream that this is what the Yankees will look like next season, but temper your expectations. If all the players actually did this, the Yankees would probably win 110 games or more.***

Batting

Notes:

  • James projects a significant bounce-back for Mark Teixeira, who had a disappointing 2012 campaign to the tune of a .345 wOBA. His projection looks very similar to his 2010 numbers, in which he hit .256/.365/.481 with 33 home runs. If Teixeira could actually put up numbers like that again, the Yankees would be very pleased.
  • Strangely, Cano is projected to have his worst season offensively since 2008. This is somewhat worrisome given the optimistic nature of James’ projections – however, the above projection is still spectacular, and absolutely no one would complain about those numbers. Let’s hope Cano’s projections are one of the few that are actually realistic.
  • I included Ichiro Suzuki in the table because of a recent report that the Yankees are confident that they can re-sign him. Unfortunately, his projection is a bit worrisome, as James has Ichiro putting up similar numbers as he did all of last year. If even that projection is optimistic, I’m not confident that Ichiro will be productive enough as an everyday right fielder.

Pitching

Notes:

  • The projections for CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda seem fairly reasonable, actually. Sabathia is getting up there in age, but all his peripherals looked great last year, and it seems as if he’s adjusting well to a decrease in velocity. A 3.28 ERA over 233 innings would be fantastic, but not terribly surprising. Kuroda, similarly, should be able to pitch to a 3.57 ERA based on his numbers last year. Though it’s not the sexiest ERA in the world, it would still be a very solid performance for the Yankees.
  • Phil Hughes‘ projection is very optimistic, considering he’s never had an ERA under 4.15 as a starter. The most important stat for Hughes is the home run, which will make or break his 2013 season, and possibly his career. If he can keep the home run ball somewhat down, even to 1.25 HR/9 as James projects, then he should find success.

  • Ivan Nova, conversely, does not look good. If this is his ceiling, then the Yankees should start looking for more pitching FAST. A 4.42 ERA isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened of course, and it would be acceptable for a fifth starter, but remember that these projections are generally brighter than others’. Personally, I think he can do a bit better than 4.42, but these projections indicate that Brian Cashman should still be sending gift baskets to Andy Pettitte‘s house daily.

So there you have it. I was originally going to put up reliever projections, but I think that’s a lost cause. Relievers are just too hard to predict, and Bill James’ projections aren’t going to tell you anything new. The rest of the projections are by no means something to put any faith into, of course, but they’re fun and interesting to look into at the very least.

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