Yankees Editorial: Reconciling the Projections


Opening Day is just five days away and rosters are mostly locked in place. There will still be some player movement on the back ends of rosters to account for out-of-options players and spring training injuries. However, these moves won’t dramatically impact team forecasts. Many different outlets disseminated these team projections and now is an opportune time to look at them.

The first projection is courtesy of Fangraphs.com. The system projects the Yankees to finish with an 82-80 record. This is based on scoring 674 runs, allowing 669 runs, and implementing the Bill James’ Pythagorean win-loss formula. This places them tied for second in the American League East with the Blue Jays. The Rays (81-81) and Orioles (79-83) follow closely behind and the Red Sox (86-76) lead the pack. This record would place them on the outside of a Wild Card race, too. However, it doesn’t mean that the Yankees have no chance of making the playoffs. In fact, they still have a 15% chance of winning the AL East and a 13.9% chance of winning a Wild Card spot for a combined 29% chance of making the playoffs. They have a chance. It’s just not a great chance according to Fangraphs.

Baseball Prospectus maintains similar prospects for the Yankees’ 2015 season. They have them projected to score more runs (691) but also allow a lot more (707). This provides a projected record of 79-83, placing them tied with the Orioles for last in the AL East. The Red Sox (88-74) set the pace again. Prospectus is slightly more bearish on the Yankees postseason chances with a 10.2% shot at winning the division and 11.8% chance of entering the Coin Flip Game. They have between a 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 shot of making the postseason.

The final projection comes from Joe Peta on his Trading Bases Blog. Peta’s method for projection is outlined in his Trading Bases book and follows many of the same Sabermetric principles that PECOTA and ZiPS use. Peta comes to an identical record (79-83) that Prospectus projected for the Yankees. Peta believes they will score (671) fewer runs than Prospectus projects but allow (689) more runs than Fangraphs projects. This, again, places them last place in the AL East.

This is assuredly a high variance team. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda stay healthy, Nathan Eovaldi takes a big step forward, Alex Rodriguez proves he can still hit, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann bounce back, and the Yankees win 95 games. Tanaka and Pineda make less than 30 combined starts, ARod is relegated to the bench, Didi Gregorius doesn’t improve against lefties, the bullpen regresses, and the team wins 75 games. The error bars on a 2015 Yankees’ team projection are wider than most other teams. Nonetheless, Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and Joe Peta all provide a similar, grim outlook for this coming season: an outlook of a mediocre team that has a slim chance of making the playoffs.

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