Although the Yankees won’t play the Dodgers in any regular-season games in 2020, both teams will certainly contend to play in the World Series. With projections in mind which team is better on paper heading into the season?
After acquiring Mookie Betts and David Erice from the Red Sox, the Dodgers have an even scarier team than last year when they won 105 games. Across the country, the Yankees added Gerrit Cole to their starting staff and they believe he’s the missing piece they needed to finally get over the hump.
MLB.com recently ranked its World Series favorites from one to thirty and placed the Yankees first. The Dodgers were right behind them at number two. It’s clear that both teams sit at the top of both of their respective leagues.
The Steamer, which provides statistical projections for every major league player, ranks only one Yankee and one Dodger in the top ten in terms of wRC+ for the upcoming season. Those players are Giancarlo Stanton and Cody Bellinger, who are expected to put up a wRC+ of 143 and 147 respectively.
Those two stars will bat in extremely protected lineups, most notably alongside Aaron Judge (135) and Mookie Betts (132). Between Judge and Stanton, the steamer anticipates a total of 88 home runs and a 9.2 WAR. Betts and Bellinger, according to the steamer, will counter with 74 home runs and 11.9 WAR.
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Although steamer projections are far from perfect, this initial glimpse at projections for these two duos confirms what we already know: the Yankees and Dodgers have lineups anchored by studs who, if they can stay healthy, will produce just as much as the other. But which due is better?
Of course, health has been quite an issue for the Yankees, so keeping their stars off the IL will be imperative for them to maintain a pace with the likes of the Dodgers top sluggers. Right now Stanton’s status for opening day is very much in doubt after suffering a calf strain and Judge hasn’t appeared in a game yet this spring after entering camp with a sore right shoulder.
Why does keeping pace with the Dodgers matter? Once October arrives, the Yankees want to play as many games as possible at home. Since 2017, the Yanks hold a record of 10-4 at home during the playoffs and were even undefeated there in six games in 2017.
If they can secure the number one seed for the 2020 playoffs, they stand a much better chance of advancing to the World Series.