The New York Yankees wrapped the 2022 season with 99 wins, though the road it took to get there was more up-and-down than a Roller Coaster Tycoon ride that ends up plunging into a lake by design.
Off to a 120-win pace through mid-June, the Yankees took their foot off the gas pedal around the All-Star break, eventually trading starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery for a player who wouldn't be available until September, as well as putting 2/5 of their rotation on ice to save bullets for the playoffs.
It didn't work. The magic stalled. But these methods also got this team to the ALCS? Much to ponder.
Overall, 2022 was a success, but not as big a success as Brian Cashman would like to make you think it was. Aaron Judge's history-making season is the textbook definition of why World Series wins and losses aren't everything; unless you're the most cynical among us, you'll remember that forever, as well as where you were during the major milestones.
That said, this team has plenty to solidify and work on before fans can feel confident they'll be watching a contender next year. The projection systems believe heavily in these Yankees; PECOTA pegs them as the most likely World Series winner entering the season. Fans might need a little nudging along, though.
How about this? If these optimistic predictions come true -- and they're not so crazy -- the Yankees really will enter October as the favorite to win it all.
2023 optimistic Yankees predictions for MLB season
Yankees Predictions: Carlos Rodón Outshines Gerrit Cole (But Both Dominate)
FanGraphs covered all their bases this week in projecting Cole and Rodón's seasons, and determined both pitchers are among the highest-variance aces in the game. Things could go extremely well; Rodón could continue limiting homers at a career-best rate, and Cole could shake off that bugaboo from 2022 knowing he has a Cy Young-level caddy behind him. They could also trend in the wrong direction. Rodón could grow to hate the short porch, and Cole could continue whiffing batters and dominating in the trenches, while sacrificing homers to the aging curve (got to give up something).
Our prediction? Both pitchers fall somewhere in between their 80th-percentile and 20th-percentile projections, but get closer to the best-case than the worst-case scenarios. Cole gave up an ungodly 33 homers after allowing just 24 in 2021. Another year removed from the sticky stuff ban means another year closer to adjusting (and, let's be honest, an increased likelihood MLB starts letting things slide).
Say Cole gives up 26 bombs, Rodón sees an increase from 12 to 18 ... but Rodón racks up 5.4 WAR in 180 innings while Cole bounces back to 4.1 WAR in 205. Bake in the balanced schedule, fewer games in the AL East, and stronger defense behind him, and it's not tough to see Cole improving significantly on 2022 ... while still being outpaced by Rodón, who's perfect for this team.