Joe Peta wrote an excellent book, Trading Bases, about building a model to bet on the 2011 Major League Baseball season. It was a success and he got a 41% return in the first year. He has been employing the same method the past few years and is beginning his previews for the upcoming season. He wrote a post about his outlook for the 2014 Yankees, perhaps one that Yankees’ fans don’t really want to see. The Yankees are his “highest conviction preview of the 2014 season”. This is due to the fact that he thinks they are being overrated by most Vegas lines and are a below-.500 team. He starts by saying they were so lucky to win 85 games in 2013. Their decent record was entirely due to “cluster luck” on both sides of the ball. Peta notes that the offense scored 650 runs despite a very low .307 OBP, .376 SLG, and .133 ISO. It only took them 2.03 hits to score a run, below the league average of 2.08. On the pitching side, they gave up only 671 runs despite allowing high SLG and ISO metrics. It took opposing teams a whopping 2.17 hits to score a run against New York, way above the (again) league average of 2.08. Based on their run scoring/allowing elements (OBP,SLG,ISO,etc.) Peta suggests they should have scored only 616 runs and allowed 702 runs if they had normal sequencing or “cluster luck” as he calls it. They would have been expected to win 71.3 games based on that run differential. It was the luckiest team he has ever seen while running his model and doing projections.
Peta suggests that 2014 will be another tough year for the Yankees. Peta used the 71 expected 2013 wins as the baseline for the Yankees rather than the actual 85 because 71 better reflected their true talent from the previous season. He notes that losing Robinson Cano, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera dropped them all the way to the 3rd worst team in the league and only better than the Marlins and Astros coming into 2014. Of course, the Yankees made a lot of noise this offseason by signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts, and Kelly Johnson. Peta thinks that these guys along with possible healthy seasons from Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira will improve the outlook. However, he isn’t convinced that Scott Sizemore (not Kelly Johnson) can handle 3rd base full time or that Brian Roberts will hold up and be productive over a full season. He also thinks Alfonso Soriano would be a below average full-time DH due to the low-OBPs. Peta’s model doesn’t think Tanaka will adequately replicate Pettitte’s production. The model also believes that C.C. Sabathia is more of a 4+ ERA guy now. Also, he notes that the roster is old and there’s not much upside.
The Atlantis opened at 83 1/2 games for the over/under. Las Vegas had them at 85 1/2. Pinnacle Sports set the line at 87. Peta’s model predicts 704 runs scored, 722 runs allowed, a 79-83 record, and a 5th place finish in the AL East for the 2014 New York Yankees. In other words, bet the under.