Yankees: Weirdest 60-Game Samples Ahead of 2020 Season
By Adam Weinrib
A lot can happen in a 60-game 2020 MLB season, Yankees fans.
Any season the New York Yankees play in 2020 will come equipped with myriad unknowns — we assume Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are healthy because that’s what we’ve been told, but we cannot be sure. We hope the rest of the team comes to play a full 60-game sprint, but in Yankee land, you just can’t bank on it.
And then, of course, there’s the thing where Gio Urshela might hit .400. Anything — literally — can happen in a two-month sample. Baseball players have spent two months destroying time and space before.
But once it comes time for Spring Training II, we’ll officially have to start analyzing the 2020 season like it’s a real MLB campaign — but where to begin?
In an effort to make some sense of the 2020 MLB season, I split the Yankees’ 2019 stats from a start date of July 29 and an end date of Sept. 27 (using Bob Nightengale’s proposed Opening Day and MLB’s apparent “hard stop” as my beginning and endpoints), and checked out the damage our favorite Bombers did during that time.
Is it perfect? No. Is anything? Hard no.
Naturally, this brought about a few interesting conclusions about what, theoretically, some prominent Yankees could provide in a short sprint.
In a 60-game sample, the New York Yankees should still rise to the top.
Last year, during this specified date range, no Yankee played more than Aaron Judge’s 50 games — particularly wild, now that we know he had a cracked rib during a portion of that chunk of time. Though hampered towards the end of the year, Judge still mashed, slashing .259/.361/.556 with 15 homers and 40 RBI.
DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela both tied for the highest average — .327 — with any sort of representative sample size under their belts (48 and 44 games, respectively). Your home run leader was Gleyber Torres, who hit an iconic 18 homers and 35 RBI in a second half fueled by feasting on the Red Sox and Orioles.
As for pitching, James Paxton’s hottest stretch of the season stands out among the rest. In 11 starts during this time frame, Pax went 10-0 with 2.51 ERA and 3.26 FIP. His one tough start during the stretch came in that bizarre series at Fenway during which the Red Sox pasted everyone but Domingo German, and were 10,000% stealing signs (unconfirmed).
This time around, Paxton won’t have the ability to round into form, per se, but he also won’t have a pockmarked first half, marred by secretive hip surgery and a slow recovery. He can simply enter the 2020 campaign at full bore.
As for what you can expect from the bullpen, workload wise, during a 60-game sample? Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle led the team in appearances last year during that calendar span, with 22 a piece. Zack Britton checked in with 19, and Aroldis Chapman only threw 16 times, surely resting once the AL East was clinched.
Is this an exact science for predicting 2020? No. Of course not. We’d like Giancarlo Stanton to play more than seven game, and we’d expect Edwin Encarnacion to suit up for fewer than 12 considering he signed with the White Sox.
But at the very least, this sheds light on what’s possible in a chaotic 2020. And the team records above certainly mean something. For all the talk of 2020 being especially insane, with a high probability of a bad team making the postseason (and potentially winning it all), the cream usually rises to the top. Good teams play good 60-game stretches. Factor in everyone opening the season fresh instead of having been bogged down by 100 previous games, and everything should get even stranger.