If Yankees fans want to forget about the troubles of 2023, the last thing they should be doing is looking ahead to 2024. Instead, might we recommend a relaxing tea, a good book, or an alternate hobby?
The fine people at FanGraphs dropped their list of the biggest and most likely offensive regressions in 2024, based on the way their projection system assessed talent entering 2023 and the way they're assessing that same talent now, just past the All-Star break.
The good news? While Aaron Judge appears in the No. 3 spot on this list, that actually isn't awful. FanGraphs still projects him for 5.8 fWAR next season, post-toe injury, after thinking he could reach 7.2 in 2024 prior to 2023 even beginning. The mathematicians still believe Judge will be quite effective, but aren't sure he'll play out the full year or reach his 2022 heights once more.
Then again, he seemed to be reaching those heights again in 2023 before he crashed into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium. It's possible Judge keeps defying projections for another two or three years -- and, even if he doesn't, he'll still be pretty good.
The more troublesome droppers? DJ LeMahieu, with the fifth-biggest decrease (all the way to 2.4 fWAR), as well as Giancarlo Stanton, projected to fall from 2.1 to 1.1. Without any lift on defense, that's borderline untenable; they'd be better served with Randal Grichuk at $25 million less.
Yankees' Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu poised for major regressions in 2024
The worst part? FanGraphs not only projects Judge, LeMahieu and Stanton among their biggest losers/declines for 2024, but also peppers their analysis with ominous warning that even these regressions aren't the Yankees' biggest problem. Never forget that not only are your supposed stars getting worse, but that there are even bigger leaks elsewhere in the house. Oh, great! Thanks for the reminder!
Judge being exceptional and LeMahieu being a league-average regular won't be the most bitter pill Yankee fans swallow by next summer. It's the cost of LeMahieu and Stanton, as well as the likelihood that neither's going anywhere. Add in Anthony Rizzo's disappearance, Harrison Bader's free agency, Carlos Rodón's injury, Luis Severino's likely departure, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Jose Trevino's falls from grace, and Anthony Volpe's roller coaster development, and there are approximately 1,000 reasons to be wary of projecting next year too far.
And what FanGraphs can project they don't really like. Comforting, to say the least.