The 2015 IIATMS Awards

Major League Baseball's regular season awards are slated to be rather intriguing, to say the least. The narrative will likely play a huge role in several of the awards (particularly the American League MVP and National League Cy Young), and, even without extenuating circumstances largely beyond a player's control, some are simply too damn close to call. And that's one of the most wonderful things about baseball; the more we know, the more difficult these heretofore easy decisions become. Without further ado:

AL MVP: Mike Trout - .299/.402/.590, 41 HR, 11 SB, 172 wRC+, 9.4 bWAR, 9.0 fWAR

For the fourth season in a row, Trout led the AL in bWAR and fWAR (and were it not for his NL counterpart, he would have led the Majors, as well), while also pacing the league in OPS+ and wRC+. He also set a career-high in home runs, SLG, and ISO, continuing his evolution into an elite (or, more accurately, even more elite) power hitter. Defensively, the metrics no longer see Trout as an elite center fielder, suggesting he is average to a tick above. However, his propensity for highlight reel catches has not change.

Yes - the Angels missed the playoffs by one game. But it's difficult to pin that on a player that batted .315/.430/.648 with 8 HR in September.

Also receiving votes - Josh Donaldson

NL MVP: Bryce Harper - .330/.460/.649, 42 HR, 6 SB, 197 wRC+, 9.9 bWAR, 9.5 fWAR

If you want to find a better offensive season than Harper's 2015, you have to look back to 2004, when a certain hulked-out gentleman hit .362/.609/.812 with a 233 wRC+. And the last non-Barry Bonds player to top Harper's 197 wRC+ was Mark McGwire, way back in 1998. And if you want to find a player that hasn't been conclusively linked to PEDs, you'd have to go back to 1994, when Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas tied for the MLB-lead with a 205 wRC+. In short, it would be difficult to overstate the excellence of Harper's season - it was historically great, regardless of age, era, or position.

Just for fun, the gap between Harper and second-place Joey Votto with the bat (based upon FanGraphs' batting metric) was 15.7. For comparison's sake, Nolan Arenado ranked 39th in the Majors at 15.0.

Also receiving votes - N.A.

AL Cy YoungDallas Keuchel - 232 IP, 185 H, 51 BB, 216 K, 2.48 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 7.2 bWAR, 6.1 fWAR

The between Keuchel and Price in most everything is minuscule, save for our choice's 1.2 win edge in bWAR and massive advantage in GB% (61.7 to 40.4). Keuchel allowed slightly fewer base-runners on a rate basis, averaged slightly more IP per start, prevented runs at a marginally better rate, and did so in more hitter-friendly environs. Were it not for the Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson impressions in the NL, this would have been the most difficult choice in recent memory.

Also receiving votes - David Price

NL Cy Young: Jake Arrieta - 229 IP, 150 H, 48 BB, 236 K, 1.77 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 8.7 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR

By good ol' fashioned runs, Greinke's the choice. If you prefer focusing solely on what a pitcher controls, Kershaw's the choice. We chose the middle-ground, and went with Arrieta, who was generally in between the two in most metrics that we consider. He was in a virtual tie with Greinke in terms of run prevention (when adjusted for park), and he allowed the least hard contact of any pitcher in the National League. By keeping the ball on the ground and limiting scorching line drives and deep fly balls, his dependency on his defense may be less significant than one would suspect based upon the gap between his ERA and FIP.

Also receiving votes - Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke

AL RoY: Carlos Correa - .279/.345/.512, 22 HR, 14 SB, 133 wRC+, 4.1 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR

Correa led all shortstops in ISO, SLG, wOBA, and wRC+, and finished fifth in fWAR despite playing in only 99 games (though, to be fair, Lindor finished 2nd). He was also an asset on the basepaths, and an average-ish defender by every metric but UZR (which viewed him as closer to awful). His consistency in the middle of the Astros lineup bears mentioning, as well, posting an OPS between .821 and .919 in every month. That bit of dependability helped keep the Astros afloat despite a late season swoon - and that sort of narrative can make all the difference in a choice as close as the one between Correa and Lindor.

Also receiving votes - Francisco Lindor

NL RoY: Kris Bryant - .275 .369 .488, 26 HR, 13 SB, 136 wRC+, 5.9 bWAR, 6.5 fWAR

A couple of months ago, this appeared to be yet another perilously close race, with Bryant, Joc Pederson, Jung Ho Kang, and Noah Syndergaard all vying for the award. Due to injuries and a bit of regression to his competitors, Bryant stands head and shoulders above the pack. That sells him short, though, as Bryant ranked 10th in the Majors in fWAR, and 15th in bWAR. In addition to having light-tower power and a terrific approach at the plate, Bryant ranked 6th in the Majors in BsR (FanGraphs' baserunning metric), and played above-average defense at the hot corner. Even with Harper's dominance, Bryant is closer to the MVP race than the other rookies are to him.

Also receiving votes - N.A.

AL Manager of the Year: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers

This award is essentially "who was the manager of the team that overachieved the most?" While Hinch guided the Astros to the playoffs a couple of years early, Banister helmed a team that (1) outpaced its Pythagorean record by five wins, (2) lost the most games and most WAR in the Majors to injury, (3) started a Rule 5 pick in center field for most of the season, (4) let Adam Rosales pitch twice, and (5) managed to win its division by two games despite all of this.

Also receiving votes - A.J. Hinch, Joe Girardi

NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

If it weren't for the ubiquitous discussion of Cardinals Devil Magic and the worst bullpen management in Major League Baseball, Mike Matheny may have garnered some love for guiding an injury-riddled team to the best record in the Majors. Instead, we went with the guy who turned a team led by rookies and twenty-somethings into a 97-win club.

Also receiving votes - N.A.

Babe Ruth Award: Alex Rodriguez - .250/.356/.486, 33 HR, 4 SB, 129 wRC+, 3.1 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR

Were it not for Teixeira's injury and the feel-good nature of Rodriguez's return, this award would probably have turned out quite differently. The Yankees offense was surprisingly stout this season, and Rodriguez spent the majority of that season anchoring the lineup from the third spot in the order. He slowed down as the season wore on, but he still managed a 119 wRC+ in September (which matches Carlos Beltran's mark on the season).

Also receiving votes - Mark Teixeira

Mo Rivera Award: Dellin Betances - 84 IP, 45 H, 40 BB, 131 K, 1.50 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 3.7 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR

Despite a couple of scary outings late in the season, Betances managed to match last season's bWAR total while improving his already staggering strikeout rate by 0.5 K/9. His 131 strikeouts were fourth on the team, despite Betances ranking only 7th in IP (though he did lead all relievers in IP). He also led the pitching staff in bWAR, and finished second on the team behind Mark Teixeira. Betances' all-around numbers may not be as jaw-dropping as they were in 2014, yet he was dominant nevertheless.

Also receiving votes - Andrew Miller

The Carl Pavano: Chris Capuano & Jacoby Ellsbury (tie)

This ... distinction ... came down to two schools of thought. On one hand, Capuano was the worst player on the Yankees this year, with -1.1 bWAR and -0.2 fWAR. He allowed 38 runs and 6 home runs in just 40.2 IP, including 16 runs in 13.1 IP as a starter. In short, he was a flesh and blood version of the white flag.

On the other hand, there was Ellsbury getting paid over $21 MM this season to bat .257/.318/.345 with an 83 wRC+. One-hundred and forty-three players garnered at least 500 PA, and among those Ellsbury ranked 118th in fWAR and 126th in wRC+. He was above replacement-level (1.9 bWAR/0.9 fWAR) mostly due to his position, as his defense slipped noticeably as the season wore on. Capuano may have been worse in terms of overall value, but his awfulness was limited to 22 games and 40.2 IP - Ellsbury's was spread out over 111 games and 501 PA.

Also receiving votes - CC Sabathia, Stephen Drew

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Checking in on the IIATMS Top 30

With the Yankees season having ended with a whimper, it is officially the time to look to the future - in terms of both the team that will take the field in 2016, and the farm system that will (hopefully) keep it competitive for the rest of the decade (and beyond). And what better place to start than with our pre-season prospect rankings? 30. Hoy Jun Park, SS Pulaski (Rk) - .239/.351/.383, 5 HR, 12 SB (7 CS), 109 wRC+, 262 PA

Every report about Park has been positively glowing. The 19-year-old South Korean flashed above-average power at times, demonstrated patience at the plate, and played excellent defense at short. His overall numbers may not jump off of the page, but his overall skillset is enticing, and despite his distance from the Majors he may be the closest thing to a pure shortstop in the system.

29. Gosuke Katoh, 2B Pulaski (Rk) - .287/.426/.416, 5 HR, 9 SB (0 CS), 143 wRC+, 254 PA Charleston (A) - .161/.264/.202, 1 HR, 8 SB (2 CS), 42 wRC+, 149 PA

Katoh was solid but unspectacular with Charleston in 2014, posting a 96 wRC+ in his full-season debut. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily in his second go at the level before being demoted in late June. He was excellent at Pulaski, though, and he just turned 21 this week, so it isn't necessarily a reason to fret. 2016 will be a big year for him, for better or worse.

28. Jose Pirela, UT SWB (AAA) - .325/.390/.433, 3 HR, 5 SB (2 CS), 142 wRC+, 259 PA Yankees (MLB) - .230/.247/.311, 1 HR, 1 SB (0 CS), 47 wRC+, 78 PA

I'm excluding Pirela's stats at High-A and Double-A, as they were merely rehab stints and are not indicative of anything. That being said, Pirela has the look of a Quad-A type - he raked at Double-A, raked at Triple-A, but he's nearly 26 and looked mostly lost with the Yankees this year. It was a small sample size, to be fair, but he's always been a prospect without a true carrying tool, so performance is everything. His flexibility and minor league success will give him plenty of opportunities going forward.

27. Angel Aguilar, SS Charleston (A) - .229/.283/.330, 3 HR, 14 SB (3 CS), 75 wRC+, 376 PA

Aguilar made his stateside debut this year, and it was ... underwhelming, in all respects. The Venezuelan shortstop raked in short-season ball in 2014, and drew rave reviews for his bat speed and power potential. He struggled with contact (27.1 K%), and failed to show the pop that put him on the map. Moreover, he bounced between second, third, and short, and seems best-suited to play at the keystone. He's only 20 (age will be a common theme here), though, and despite the big splashes made by rookies this year, there's still plenty of time for him to develop.

26. Jordan Montgomery, SP Charleston (A) - 43.2 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 55 K, 2.68, 2.09 FIP Tampa (A+) - 90.2 IP, 82 H, 24 BB, 77 K, 3.08 ERA, 2.87 FIP

When Montgomery was drafted last year, he was viewed as a classic command/control lefty, working with a low-90s fastball, a change-up, and a couple of breaking balls. As a product of the SEC, he was expected to dominate the low minors. And he did, by limiting walks, striking out a healthy number of batters, and keeping the ball on the ground (his groundball to flyball ratio was right around 2.3:1). His ultimate ceiling may be that of a 4th starter, but he seems a safe bet to contribute at the MLB-level; think Adam Warren and David Phelps.

25. Alexander Palma, OF Charleston (A) - .202/.248/.256, 1 HR, 8 SB (4 CS), 43 wRC+, 303 PA

Much of what was said about Aguilar can be said about Palma - stateside debut, disappointment, only 20 (or will be, in 10 days) etc. Palma's a corner-outfield prospect with plus power potential (despite a scant 9 XBH in 2015), and he'll likely get a do over at Charleston in 2016.

24. Chasen Shreve, RP Yankees (MLB) - 58.1 IP, 49 H, 33 BB, 64 K, 3.09 ERA, 4.92 FIP

It was a tale of two seasons for Shreve. Through August 19, he had a 2.05 ERA and 2.75 K/BB, and allowed only 12% of inherited runners to score (which represents 48.1 IP). He was well within Girardi's Circle of Trust for the vast majority of the season. Over the last six weeks, however, he completely fell apart, to the tune of an 8.10 ERA and more walks (13) than strikeouts (9). He failed to record more than one out in any of his last four appearances, and allowed a staggering 67% of inherited runners to score. Awful is not a strong enough word here. Given the team's bullpen woes down the stretch, Shreve's ability to bounce back (and re-earn Girardi's trust) will bear watching.

22(t). Daniel Camarena, SP

Camarena did not pitch this season ... but I couldn't quite figure out why. His Twitter feed indicates that he had a setback in April, and that's about it. I went to the source, and ended up speaking to the prospect via DM. He told me that he spent the season rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery. His arm and elbow feel great now, and he'll be ready in time for Spring Training. He's a command/control prospect who has taken quite well to pitching full-time (which only happened when he joined the Yankees organization), with a change-up that belies his age and relative inexperience.

22(t). Abiatal Avelino, SS Charleston (A) - .301/.341/.398, 0 HR, 16 SB (3 CS), 111 wRC+, 90 PA Tampa (A+) - .252/.309/.321, 4 HR, 38 SB (15 CS), 95 wRC+, 446 PA

Avelino performed quite well at Charleston, and then held his own at Tampa as a 20-year-old. He's a safe bet to stick at shortstop, making up for average range with solid instincts and a strong arm, and he has a fairly advanced approach at the plate. He doesn't have much power, as evidenced by his .084 ISO across two levels, but he makes a great deal of contact and sprays the ball all over the field.

21. Austin DeCarr, SP

DeCarr did not pitch this season, and underwent Tommy John Surgery ... sometime in the late Spring or early Summer.

20. Leonardo Molina, OF GCL Yankees (Rk) - .247/.290/.364, 2 HR, 6 SB (5 CS), 96 wRC+, 178 PA

Molina spent half of the 2015 season as a 17-year-old, and the numbers reflect that. He is a reasonable approximation of a five-tool prospect (though he added quite a bit of weight between 2014 and 2015, and the impact of that on his speed/defense remains to be seen), and is several years away from being a factor in the Majors.

19. Mason Williams, OF Trenton (AA) - .317/.407/.375, 0 HR, 11 SB (6 CS), 131 wRC+, 144 PA SWB (AAA) - .321/.382/.432, 0 HR, 2 SB (1 CS), 136 wRC+, 91 PA Yankees (MLB) - .286/.318/.571, 1 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 139 wRC+, 22 PA

The former top-50 prospect bounced back in a big way this season, after a mediocre 2013 and a horrendous 2014, regaining much of the luster that made folk fawn over him two short years ago. He hit a home run in his Major League debut, and played excellent defense every step of the way. Par the course for the 2015 Yankees, however, he suffered a shoulder injury in his 8th big league game, and had season-ending surgery in August.

18. Jose Ramirez, RP

Ramirez and Ramon Flores were traded to the Seattle Mariners for Dustin Ackley.

17. Ty Hensley, SP

Hensley had Tommy John Surgery in March and missed the entire season.

16. Bryan Mitchell, SP SWB (AAA) - 75.0 IP, 63 H, 37 BB, 61 K, 3.12 ERA, 3.18 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 29.2 IP, 37 H, 16 BB, 29 K, 6.37 ERA, 4.75 FIP

Through his first 10 appearances, Mitchell was pitching quite well for the Yankees. He had a 3.86 ERA, 22 K, and only 6 BB in 21 IP, pumping his fastball into the upper-90s at times. Mitchell was even better in relieve over that time, with allowing only 10 H and 4 BB in 15.1, striking out 15 and posting a 2.35 ERA (obligatory small sample size disclaimer). On August 17, however, he was struck in the face with a line drive, and he wasn't the same when he returned 11 days later. In those last 8.2 IP, he allowed 23 baserunners and 12 ER, never finding his groove. I think it's fair to chalk much of that up to the injury, as he threw fewer fastballs and was noticeably jittery at times. If he can regain his confidence, I believe that he could be a poor man's David Robertson out of the bullpen, give his terrific fastball, big breaking ball, and general approach.

15. Ramon Flores, OF

Dealt to the Mariners on July 30.

14. Jacob Lindgren, RP SWB (AAA) - 22.0 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 29 K, 1.23 ERA, 1.88 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 5.14 ERA, 8.13 FIP

Lindgren had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in late June, and missed the rest of the season. His stuff was flat when he reached the Majors, and his fastball sat in the high-80s, which may be a result of said bone spurs. He struggled to find the plate (a common theme in his professional career thus far), and allowed three home runs in just seven innings. He should be ready for Spring Training next year.

12(t). Jake Cave, OF Trenton (AA) - .269/.330/.345, 2 HR, 17 SB (3 CS), 97 wRC+, 563 PA SWB (AAA) - .458/.517/.667, 0 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 239 wRC+, 29 PA

2015 was more of the same for Cave, with steady offense and strong defense in center-field. His lack on in-game power continues to be an issue, but he did improve his baserunning noticeably this season (based on both his success rate and reports). Without more pop he's probably a fourth outfielder, but he has some semblance of a Brett Gardner starter kit.

12(t). Miguel Andujar, 3B Tampa (A+) - .243/.288/.363, 8 HR, 12 SB (1 CS), 98 wRC+, 520 PA

As was the case in 2014, Andujar struggled in the first half (.208/.252/.319, 73 wRC+ through June 30), made adjustments, and excelled in the second half (.291/.338/.422, 132 wRC+). He spent the entire season as a 20-year-old, a couple of years below the average age for the Florida State League, and his body of work thus far has been reflective of his age. If he can put it all together, he seems as good a bet as any player to break out in 2016 as he advances to Double-A.

Check out this excellent MLB.com Prospect Watch from July for more information.

11. Jorge Mateo, SS Charleston (A) - .268/.338/.378, 2 HR, 71 SB (15 CS), 106 wRC+, 409 PA Tampa (A+) - .321/.374/.452, 0 HR, 11 SB (2 CS), 152 wRC+, 91 PA

Mateo was the breakout prospect of the Yankees system this season, and was recently ranked as the second-best prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America. He led all of professional baseball in steals this year, putting his legitimate 80-grade speed on display all season long. Mateo isn't all about speed, though - he has a good approach at the plate, and an above-average hit tool. His power potential is lacking, but he's not going to have the bat knocked out of his hands, either. Reports of his shortstop play are mixed, due to his occasionally shaky hands, but he has excellent range and a strong arm, and will stay up the middle in some capacity. He'll be on every top-100 list this Winter.

10. Tyler Austin, OF Trenton (AA) - .260/.337/.455, 2 HR, 3 SB (2 CS), 128 wRC+, 86 PA SWB (AAA) - .235/.309/.311, 4 HR, 8 SB (1 CS), 82 wRC+, 299 PA

Austin struggled in his first taste of Triple-A, and was demoted to Double-A in August as a result. With so many opportunities at the Major League level, it is somewhat telling that Austin ended up out-righted off of the 40-man roster this Summer, as he should have been poised to fill the four corner role that he's been groomed for. He'll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season, and will also be playing in the Arizona Fall League.

08(t). Domingo German, SP

German had Tommy John Surgery this Spring and missed the entire season.

08(t). Luis Torrens, C

Torrens had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder this Spring, and missed the entire season.

07. Eric Jagielo, 3B Trenton (AA) - .284/.347/.495, 9 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 141 wRC+, 248 PA

Prior to having season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery in August, Jagielo was showing the offensive potential that made him a first round pick a couple of years ago. His defense at third base is still a work in progress (at best), but he has the chops to stick there without being a liability. He was originally set to play in the Arizona Fall League, but the team held him out to ensure that he would be fully healthy for the 2016 season.

06. Rob Refsnyder, 2B SWB (AAA) - .271/.359/.402, 9 HR, 12 SB (2 CS), 123 wRC+, 522 PA Yankees (MLB) - .302/.348/.512, 2 HR, 2 SB (0 CS), 130 wRC+, 47 PA

It was a frustrating season for Refsnyder, who continued to showcase legitimate offensive potential in Triple-A while the Yankees trotted out a pu pu platter at second base. He raked in his cup of coffee with the team, but his defense was incredibly shaky - and the team has made its desire to have above-average defenders up the middle a priority these last few seasons. His production at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was not jaw-dropping, to be fair, but it's difficult to see how he fits into the team's plans when his only real shot came after rosters expanded.

04(t). Ian Clarkin, SP

Clarkin missed the entire season with what was classified as "elbow inflammation," but he's slated to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

04(t). Greg Bird, 1B Trenton (AA) - .258/.358/.445, 6 HR, 1 SB (1 CS), 133 wRC+, 212 PA SWB (AAA) - .301/.353/.500, 6 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 146 wRC+, 150 PA Yankees (MLB) - .261/.343/.529, 11 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 137 wRC+, 178 PA

#GREGBIRD was everything the Yankees could have hoped for in 2015, and then some. He blew through Double-A and Triple-A, and did his best Mark Texeira impression in the Majors. In fact, he ranked 5th in wRC+ among first basemen in September, behind only Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt. He's a fringe-average defender at first and he had platoon issues as LHP made adjustments, but you can't ask for much more from a 22-year-old that wasn't expected to contribute this season.

03. Gary Sanchez, C Trenton (AA) - .262/.319/.476, 12 HR, 6 SB (0 CS), 127 wRC+, 254 PA SWB (AAA) - .295/.349/.500, 6 HR, 1 SB (2 CS), 145 wRC+, 146 PA

2015 represents the best professional season of Sanchez's career, as the 22-year-old (yes, he's still only 22) put together a 134 wRC+ between Double-A and Triple-A. Rumors of his demise were largely unfounded, as his offense has never been subpar - it's a simple matter of prospect fatigue that has sullied many opinions. His defense will likely never be better than fringe-average, but he's shown enough that it is clear that he can stick behind the plate. He's heading to the Arizona Fall League to focus on his defense ... and I suspect to showcase his abilities to other teams, given the presence of Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy.

02. Luis Severino, SP Trenton (AA) - 38.0 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 48 K, 3.32 ERA, 2.37 FIP SWB (AAA) - 61.1 IP, 40 H, 17 BB, 50 K, 1.91 ERA, 2.50 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 62.1 IP, 53 H, 22 BB, 56 K, 2.89 ERA, 4.37 FIP

Severino rose from Double-A to the front of the Yankees rotation in a few short months, as one can make the argument that he was the team's best starter for the last two months of the season. The only real blemish on his Major League resume is a bit of gopheritis, as he struck out batters at a slightly above-average rate, kept the ball on the ground at a well above-average rate, and mostly limited walks. If he is not in the Yankees rotation on Opening Day, something fairly dramatic will have happened.

01. Aaron Judge, OF Trenton (AA) - .284/.350/.516, 12 HR, 1 SB (0 CS), 147 wRC+, 280 PA SWB (AAA) - .224/.308/.373, 8 HR, 6 SB (2 CS), 98 wRC+, 260 PA

Judge cemented his status as a top-50 prospect at Double-A, rising in most every mid-season prospect ranking due to his continued excellence with the bat (and surprisingly strong defense in right). And then, for the first time as a professional, he struggled. Judge looked over-matched at times in Triple-A, as better pitchers were able to exploit the holes in his swing (and his immense strike zone). He was never able to adjust, either, posting a 62 wRC+ in the last ten games of the season. It is not surprising to see a 23-year-old power hitter struggle in his first taste of Triple-A, and so there is no reason to be apprehensive - but his ability to adjust in his second trip through Triple-A will be one of the biggest storylines for the Yankees farm system in 2016.

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The 2014 IIATMS End-Of-Season Awards Post

I know I said last Sunday that the 2014 season was over and we'd be moving on, but the season isn't really over until you do your year-end team awards post.  Staff voting was held over the last 2 days and the results have been tallied.  Without further ado, I'd like to announce the winners of the 2014 IIATMS end-of-season awards.  The envelopes, please... MVP- 3-Way Tie (Dellin Betances, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner)

The vote: Betances 3 (Scott, Matt B., Tamar), Ellsbury 3 (Katie, Stacey, Dom), Gardner 3 (Matt I., William, Kenny), Masahiro Tanaka 1 (Brad)

In what will surely go down as one of the most controversial votes in IIATMS history, the team MVP award will be split 3 ways.  Betances' gaudy numbers, the league-high workload in which he accumulated them, and the consistency with which he pitched lights out in big situations all combined to garner him a sizable chunk of staff support.  Ellsbury and Gardner, as the 2 best and most consistent hitters for the whole season and the top 2 WAR guys on the team, did the same.  Fitting that the Yankees end up not having a solo MVP in a year where they were very mediocre.

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Fan versus the machine - 2014 hopes against the odds

odds againBeing a fan of a team and writing about that same team is a very difficult trick to pull off. The most difficult part is being objective and writing in a factual way without getting carried away by emotions. If you don't fight the emotions, you end up writing screeds against the general manager or manager and players who don't perform the way you expect or turn the other way and be exceeding in the praise. One way to really illustrate the problem is to look at the fan's hopes during the season and cold, hard odds of making the wild card or winning the division as it is calculated every day by places like Fangraphs.com. It wasn't until the end of the 2014 season when the hopes fell in line with reality. What I did to illustrate the point was to list the day by day Fangraphs odds for the Yankees to either win a wild card spot or win the division from Game 1 of the season to Game 162. I then in a third column listed where my hope meter was during the same time frame. As you can see from the chart below, I wasn't dealing well with reality until about the 91st game of the season when the crushing weight of mediocrity and injury started to overwhelm hope.

When the season started, my hopes were high. After a productive off season, a promising Spring Training and the landing of Masahiro Tanaka, I was sure the 2014 Yankees were a playoff team. The odds did not agree. The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox were almost a 40% chance to repeat the division followed closely by the Rays. Hey, I never said the computers were always right. The Yankees were given about half the chance as those other two teams. But I was confident.

That confidence wavered some but did not falter until after the All Star Break. The Blue Jays were the early pace-setters and pulled out to a nice lead. My confidence got a little shaky. But the Jays came back to the pack and the Yankees were in the thick of it. During that little space, I was very confident again. Tanaka was 11-1, Dellin Betances was the biggest surprise in baseball and despite injuries, the Yankees seemed plucky and hard to put away.

Sure, the win five, lose four see-saw started getting to me. The high of seven games over .500 was followed by five losses in a row. On July 8, Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his elbow and my hopes took a serious hit. But the addition of Brandon McCarthy seemed to fill up part of the slack. But everything started to seem like an uphill climb when the offense could not get going and every uptick was followed by several losses and then the Orioles took over the division never to look back. Once that happened, the only hope seemed to be a wild card.

Here is the chart from my spreadsheet and a few notes along the way to show my state of mind as the season went along:

Odds

 

  • Game 2: Two losses to the Astros to start the season. Ugh.
  • Game 21: Pine tar game and Michael Pineda suspended then hurt.
  • Game 47: Walk off against David Robertson.
  • Game 54: Tanaka is 8-1.
  • Game 55: Robertson is crushed in the ninth.
  • Game 59: Tanaka is 9-1.
  • Game 61: David Phelps bombed.
  • Game 63: The legend of Dellin Betances grows.
  • Game 64: Tanaka is 10-1
  • Game 65: Where did Chase Whitley come from?
  • Game 66: David Phelps shutout..
  • Game 68: Vidal Nuno is killing me.
  • Game 69: Tanaka is 11-1
  • Game 71: Finish sweep of Blue Jays.
  • Game 72: Walk off against Orioles. My hopes the highest since the beginning of the season
  • Game 74: Tanaka bombed.
  • Game 75: Whitley comes down to earth with a thud.
  • Game 76: Adam Warren blows it.
  • Game 86: Yanks score one run in eleven innings in a game started by Yohan Pino.
  • Game 88: Shane Greene is the man!
  • Game 89: Tanaka is hurt. Elbow. Oh woe is us.
  • Game 93: Another Shane Greene sparkler.
  • Game 95: Brandon McCarthy superb.
  • Game 97: Sweep of Reds complete. My hopes start to stir.
  • Game 98: Yanks cannot score against some guy named Mikolas with an ERA near my shoe size.
  • Game 102: Four wins in a row.
  • Game 105: Never mind. Three straight losses.
  • Game 106: Bats break out.
  • Game 108: Bats are back to sleep.
  • Game 115: Yanks win four of five.
  • Game 120: Five losses in a row. Bats dead. Division dead to Orioles.
  • Game 122: Two wins in a row at Tropicana!?
  • Game 129: Five wins in a row. Pineda is back!
  • Game 135: Three straight losses.
  • Game 138: Walk off against Koji Uehara. Boy that felt good.
  • Game 139: Shut out by James Shields
  • Game 149: Two straight walk-off losses. All hopes dashed.
  • Game 152: Three straight wins, but it's too late.
  • Game 157: Officially dead. Long live the Captain.

And so it went. Brad did a great job of outlining the good and bad of 2014. But this was a team that, even early on was not given much of a chance by the computer models. Perhaps my initial hopes were unfounded. Perhaps the injuries were just too hard to overcome. Perhaps it was never meant to be. Every good streak was followed up by a losing streak which meant the team could never really get any traction. I think that was the hardest thing about being a fan this season.

Our crack team of writers are hard at work speculating on next year and Brian Cashman, armed with a new three-year contract, will not sit still this winter. As a fan, my hopes will again be high at the start of the season. All links to the past will be gone and it will be time to start fresh. The 2015 New York Yankees will be different. The hopes will be the same.

Day to day odds

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Season Review Recap: The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees

This past week was 2014 season review week at IIATMS.  We reviewed the 162-game results roster group by roster group to highlight the best and worst things that each group did.  Not only were the worsts more plentiful, they were also the more impactful happenings of the season for the Yankees.  That's how you spend half a billion dollars in the offseason and finish with a worse record than you did the year before.  If you missed any of those review posts this week, here's your chance to catch up. - The Infield

- The Outfield

- The Rotation

- The Bullpen

- The Bench

Tomorrow we start shifting the focus forward, to the upcoming offseason.  Dom's going to continue to evaluate the team's biggest positions of need, I'm going to break down the qualifying offer candidates in greater detail, and Stacey will be making her long-awaited return to the rotation.  We're also introducing a new writer tomorrow, so make sure to be around for that.

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The 2-Year Hangover: Comparing The 2013 And 2014 Offenses (Part III)

[caption id="attachment_70265" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Cano HR vs KC Hard to replace this guy. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] This one's pretty simple.  Just a straight up position-by-position comparison of 2013 and 2014 batting lines.  I call it "The Cano Effect."

Catcher:

2013- .213/.289/.298, 57 R, 8 HR, 43 RBI 2014- .250/.305/.415, 65 R, 22 HR, 81 RBI

First Base:

2013- .229/.292/.397, 58 R, 22 HR, 83 RBI 2014- .215/.305/.382, 66 R, 25 HR, 78 RBI

Second Base:

2013- .318/.385/.521, 79 R, 27 HR, 114 RBI 2014- .246/.303/.390, 69 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI

Shortstop:

2013- .228/.286/.312, 63 R, 5 HR, 46 RBI 2014- .233/.287/.292, 48 R, 5 HR, 55 RBI

Third Base:

2013- .231/.293/.340, 70 R, 12 HR, 52 RBI 2014- .260/.335/.392, 69 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI

Left Field:

2013- .236/.293/.399, 79 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI 2014- .249/.313/.393, 90 R, 16 HR, 62 RBI

Center Field:

2013- .280/.349/.442, 98 R, 13 HR, 65 RBI 2014- .278/.335/.452, 86 R, 23 HR, 84 RBI

Right Field:

2013- .251/.296/.358, 67 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI 2014- .253/.294/.347, 62 R, 8 HR, 43 RBI

Designated Hitter:

2013- .189/.276/.307, 64 R, 16 HR, 61 RBI 2014- .230/.290/.372, 65 R, 18 HR, 63 RBI

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Bench)

[caption id="attachment_70216" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Ichiro vs BOS The best (and only) full-time bench contributor. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] At last we come to the bench, the final piece of the 2014 roster puzzle.  The island of misfit toys that was assembled to support the shaky starting lineup.  The Yankees were somewhat flawed in the construction of their starting lineup this season, but they were really flawed in how they put together their bench.  They didn't have young legs that could run and play good defense, they didn't have much power for pinch-hitting situations, and they didn't have adequate backup depth at their weakest spots.  It was not a good group, and the lack of production from the bench exacerbated the problem caused by the under-performing starters.

Best- The Catching Depth Shines Through

As underwhelming as Brian McCann's first year in pinstripes was, the Yankees got good production overall from the catcher position thanks to their backups.  Francisco Cervelli was quietly stellar in 49 games, his season once again shortened by injury problems.  He hit .301/.370/.432 in 162 plate appearances, caught a decent 25% of attempted base stealers, and graded out as above-average defensively by most measures.  When he was unavailable, John Ryan Murphy looked like an improved player all-around after his late-season cup of coffee in 2013.  He hit .284/.318/.370 in 85 plate appearances, looked comfortable behind the plate, and impressed the coaches with his work ethic and ability to communicate with pitchers.  It's hard to say if both will be back next year, but either way the backup catcher spot is in good hands.

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Bullpen)

[caption id="attachment_70203" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Betances vs CIN The Beast. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] It was a different kind of year for the traditionally strong Yankee bullpen.  They came into the season with higher turnover and more role uncertainty than they had seen in years.  It was going to be an unfamiliar feeling not having the security blanket of Mo out there for the 9th inning.  His replacement was known and more than capable of handling the closing task.  It was the rest of his supporting cast that was up in the air.  A few roles changed and ironed themselves out early, with 2 more homegrown arms elevating themselves to "plus" status, but overall the bullpen as a group might have taken a step back this year.

Best- The 2-Man Wrecking Crew

The best thing about D-Rob becoming the outstanding pitcher he's become is the elite level 1-2 punch it gave Joe in his bullpen.  Between D-Rob and Mo, the Yankees had the 8th and 9th innings (and sometimes more than that) on lockdown 99 times out of 100.  They didn't have that luxury heading into this season, but they sure found it quickly.  Dellin Betances, who wasn't a sure bet to make the team in camp, emerged as the new next great Yankee reliever, showing shades of late-90s Mo in his dominance and rising up to assume the setup role behind D-Rob.  He finished 2nd in MLB in relief innings pitched, first in strikeouts by almost 30 over second place, and he and Robertson combined to strike out 231 batters in 154.1 IP, by far the most of any bullpen tandem.

Worst- Workload Issues

While the record-breaking strikeout numbers were great, that high innings count really wasn't.  Betances racked up a lot of those innings in the first half of the season, both he and Adam Warren.  Joe also leaned on D-Rob for stretches because the Yankees played so many close games, and he acknowledged concerns about managing the workload of those 3 pretty early in the second half.  Betances had his scaled back significantly in September, throwing more 1-inning-and-fewer appearances compared to the 4+ out outings he regularly had in the first half, and Warren experienced a bout of ineffectiveness that could have been related to a tired arm.  There were multiple close games the Yankees lost later in the season because 1, 2 or all 3 of Joe's top guys were not available.  It would not be unfair to say that the heavy workloads cost the team a win or 2.

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Rotation)

[caption id="attachment_70193" align="aligncenter" width="534"]Tanaka Smile I'd be smiling too if I had $155 mil in my pocket and kicked that much ass. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] From the position players to the pitchers.  Today's season review post tackles the starting rotation, the foundation of any and almost all success the Yankees had this season.  There was high turnover, from the projected starting 5 to the rookie replacements to the deadline pickups.  That turnover did not come with much deviation in performance, however, and the Yankee rotation ended up being the biggest positive storyline in a season of disappointment.

Best- The Upside

For the first time since the championship teams of the late 90s, the Yankees entered this season with a projected starting 5 that was not only a strength, but potentially one of the best top-to-bottom rotations in baseball.  They had ace potential in Tanaka regardless of the tempered public expectations they set for him, a legit #2 in Hirok and #2 starter potential in Pineda, #2-3 starter potential in Nova, and, if he could show that he had learned to work with diminished velocity and his body held up, the reasonable hope was that CC could settle into a reliable #3-type of guy.

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The Best And Worst Of The 2014 New York Yankees (The Outfield)

[caption id="attachment_70177" align="aligncenter" width="550"]OF vs TOR Not pictured: The starting right fielder. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] The 2014 season review series began yesterday with a look back at the infield.  They were a sad, slow, frustrating group for most of the season.  They didn't hit well or field well.  The best contributions came from players who weren't expected to do anything or weren't on the roster at the start of the season (Solarte, Headley, Prado), and the biggest letdowns came from the players who had the highest hopes/expectations attached to them (Teix, McCann).

While the general expectations for the infield were low from the beginning, they were much higher for the starting outfield.  That group was rebuilt in the offseason, with 2 big outside free agent signings joining an extended homegrown talent to form one of the potentially most balanced and talented outfields in baseball.  It didn't quite work out that way, as team-wide injury problems prevented this group from ever performing in the roles they were expected to.

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