As February approaches, it’s time to take a look at the 2014 ZiPS projections for the New York Yankees. Whether you are a fan of sabermetrics or not, there’s no denying the stats are here to stay. Baseball, like math, is very black and white when it comes to its numbers. It only makes sense that a sport like baseball could be turned into one giant math equation.
Looking at the outfield for the 2014 New York Yankees, we need to study Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, and Alfonso Soriano. Off the bat, it looks clear that the Yankees will be led by their outfield this year. Unfortunately, their WAR is not very strong after Ellsbury. Again, I am not providing any personal bias or personal projections of the team for 2014. This is an explanation of the ZiPS 2014 projections.
Ellsbury has a projected 4.1 zWAR. To put it into comparison, Mike Trout led the MLB last year with a WAR of 10.4, and Gardner was 20th for all outfielders with a 3.2. So while Ellsbury is projected for a zWAR less than half of Trout’s, it would make him one of the most valuable outfielders in baseball next season. His WAR is a solid mix of his offensive and defensive prowess. His run creation, OPS+ and defense help push him up to his final score of 4.1.
Gardner is the 2nd highest projected outfielder for 2014, with a score of 2.3. The large drop from last season is contributed to the Yankees having a deeper outfield. Additionally, Gardner will almost be guaranteed to move from the leadoff spot to the 9-hole. As a result Gardner will have fewer at bats, and will spend less time in the field. He is one of the fastest players in the game, and sharing time in the outfield is going to hurt his value this year.
Soriano comes in with a 2.0 zWAR. Projected as the team’s first DH this season, Soriano’s production will come almost entirely from his bat. Even at his age, Fangraphs expects Soriano to have over 30 homers and over 100 RBI. The big question with Soriano is his durability. He has no lingering injuries like Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira, but how long can he really defy his age? 2014 is a contract year for Soriano, his first in eight years. Contract years always help players grab that last bit of ability for a summer.
Surprisingly last on our list is Beltran, with a 1.7 zWAR. He actually has an OPS+ that obliterates even Ellsbury’s, but his defense is projected to be less than average. If we took Fangraph’s numbers for fact, it would be pretty obvious that Beltran, and not Soriano, should be the everyday DH for the squad.
The Yankees are the oldest team in baseball. Projecting player’s entire seasons is extremely difficult because nearly half the team could play somewhere between 40 and 160 games. Injuries and age will make or break the 2014 Yankees. Be on the lookout next week, when Yanks Go Yard breaks down the Yankee infield by Fangraph’s zWAR.
See the new look outfield by getting your New York Yankees spring training tickets here.