FanGraphs' models believe that the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is a loaded baked potato topped with fried nonsense. That's why they're banking on the 2024 New York Yankees emerging from a beyond rough-and-tumble AL East, leaving the Orioles behind.
But, like an "Instagram vs. Reality" meme, it's been far rosier to think of the Yankees in terms of projections than in terms of production for years now, considering every fan knows just how hard and how often their depth gets tested.
The Yankees' offseason maneuvers were beloved by FanGraphs' computations, with Juan Soto leading the way and two outfielders better than "everyone not named Aaron Judge" joining him. But it's fair for Yankee fans to wonder if the models were too bullish on the chronically injured Yankees surviving an AL East division FanGraphs stated had "four of the top 10 teams in baseball, and four of the top six teams in the American League."
It's also fair to worry that the objective, data-driven projections were too dismissive of the Orioles, who acquired a grinder/ace last week, still have a veritable avalanche of top prospects en route, and blazed through the division last year, winning 100+ games.
FanGraphs Projections love AL East, Yankees, meh on Orioles
Here's FanGraphs on the O's, which would represent the regression of every Yankee fan's dreams, but doesn't sound likelier than the team being better, more athletic, and continually interesting this time around.
"The Orioles and Rays are in a dead heat for second, which might surprise some – the O’s just won a billion games, after all. But they outperformed their raw statistics meaningfully, and we’re projecting their competition to get tougher this year. Adding Corbin Burnes is obviously great, and we think they’re now one of the best run prevention teams in baseball, so mission accomplished there. Still, this is the projection of a club just below the game’s elite tier, which contains four teams: the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees. The system simply doesn’t care that the O’s won 100 games last year; it projects each player individually and goes from there."- FanGraphs
The system should, in my humble opinion, read up a little bit on Jackson Holliday.
Admittedly, there wouldn't be so much trepidation to believe if the Yankees hadn't just face planted spectacularly with their pants down in front of 35 million people. It would be simpler to bet on a bounce back if Carlos Rodón hadn't arrived as the No. 2 and left the season as number two. It would feel far better if Anthony Volpe's 20-20 rookie campaign hadn't been blighted with .283 OBP, one of the league's worst for a regular player.
The Yankees need plenty to go right to realize the vision created by their rosy projections, which rank them the fourth-likeliest team to win the World Series for what feels like the 12th straight season. Unfortunately, the Astros are the third-likeliest team and New York's bugaboo, so whether or not the Yankees' projection is correct, it seems like they'll fall to their rivals in the ALCS yet again in even the most optimistic view of their season. Poetic garbage.