Predictions Update (PT. 2) - The Infield

In order to take my mind off the disaster of last night’s Yankees game in Boston, I am revisiting our pre-season predictions.  The original intent was for me to look at our bullpen predictions.  I’m going to skip that post.  For one, I am having a difficult time thinking about the Yankees bullpen.  Secondly, the staff here at “It’s About The Money” all predicted that the bullpen would be a strength.  (We were wrong.)

Here, then, is a quick revisit of our predictions on the Yankees infield:

FIRST BASE:

Andy’s Prediction:  Greg Bird fulfills the promise he showed in 2015, hitting .255/.340/.500 while displaying below-average, but improving defense.  This adds up to a 3.5 WAR season.  Chris Carter hits against tough lefties to begin the season, but is released in late June as Bird becomes the full-time starter.

Analysis:  First base has been a disaster.  Greg Bird’s injury has confounded all.  What happened?  When will he come back?  Andy called the release of Chris Carter though.  GREAT JOB!

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Derek’s Prediction:  Greg Bird’s strong spring will carry over into the regular season. After swatting 8 homers in Grapefruit League play, Bird will top 30 bombs in his first full season in the big leagues. His defense, though a stark drop from Mark Teixeira, will be a pleasant surprise as well. On the other hand, Chris Carter will struggle without regular playing time. His sporadic at-bats will make it difficult for him to get into a power groove. 

Analysis:  We had such high hopes for Greg Bird.  Derek also predicted a poor performance from Carter.

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EJ’s Prediction: Greg Bird will have a 3.5+ fWAR season, hitting somewhere along the lines of .270/.360/.480. 

Analysis:  Sorry, EJ.

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Paul S’s Prediction:  For the record, I want Chris Carter to hit 45 bombs and be an awesome slugger.  Somehow, I just don't see it. Greg Bird will hit .272/27/85 and be the full time first baseman.  Following 2017, Bird will bat over .300 for the next eight seasons and will remind long-time fans of Don Mattingly.  Chris Carter will bat .225 with just 4 home runs before being traded in June.  

Analysis:  I had Carter going away, but I assumed someone would trade for him.  Wrong.  As for Greg Bird…

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Paul V’s Prediction:  Greg Bird is the player I’m excited the most to see what he can do.  I think he will be able to settle in and by June, and we will be seeing the beginnings of “Tino-esque” consistency at the plate and first. Even though this is his first year as a full time starter, I see him being one of the leaders in the clubhouse.  I love his quiet confidence.

Analysis:  Sorry Paul

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William’s :  Greg Bird settles in nicely. 25+ homers is possible. He still has to prove himself against left-handed pitching. Carter shouldn't wear a glove, but will. He won't be as bad as Spring Training and will hit a few important homers for the team.

Analysis:  Nope, although Carter did hit one important homer.

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SECOND BASE:

Andy:  Starlin Castro continues his free-swinging ways, and produces a .260/.290/.450 batting line.  He makes strides defensively however, making him a roughly average, but inconsistent player.

Analysis:  At .313/.348/.486, Castro has been an offensive force.  He has remained somewhat inconsistent in the field.

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Derek: The heat will be on Starlin Castro in his second year in pinstripes, and I don't think things will get any better. The power we saw last year will dissipate, leaving him without any redeeming qualities unless he hits for a high average. By August, Gleyber Torres will be on his tail for playing time. 

Analysis:  Starlin Castro outperformed Derek’s prognostication.  Gleyber was on the fast track to the Bronx, until he got hurt.

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EJ: Starlin Castro will be worse than last season, around 1 fWAR. He'll hit fewer home runs, but not recover any contact ability. Gleyber Torres will get a shot at second in September and the playoffs.

Analysis:  Castro has been better than predicted.

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Paul S:  This will be Castro's big breakout season.  He's going to hit 31 homers while batting over .290.  At times, he's going to be the #3 hitter in the Yankees lineup and it will make all the sense in the world.  Rob Refsnyder is traded to the A's is July.  

Analysis:  I’d like to say I nailed this one.  Castro probably won’t reach 31 homers, but he should still top 25.  As for Refsnyder, there’s still time for the trade to Oakland.

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Paul V:  Castro will be Castro.  His fielding flare is fun to watch, but he will be a hot and cold season in the box. He might be the easiest guy for Girardi to pencil in day in and day out to start the season

Analysis:  Close.  Castro has been mostly hot though.  Except for the injury, he played mostly every day.

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William:  I wish I could feel optimistic about Castro. But I just can't. He'll have his hot streaks and his cold streaks and will play slightly better than league average.

Analysis:  Castro was better than predicted.

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SHORTSTOP

Andy:  Ronald Torreyes produces replacement-level results through the end of May.  Didi Gregorius continues his offensive ascent and hits .275/.325/.440 while playing above-average defense, solidifying himself as the shortstop of the Yankees' present and future.

Analysis:  Didi is at .316/.451/.767.  He is the Yankees current and future shortstop.  And he’s a fan favorite!  Torreyes also filled in well.  Good job Andy!

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Derek:  The Yankees will be without Didi Gregorius for at least a month, meaning Ronald Torreyes gets the nod for the time being. Torreyes might run into a few brief BABIP driven hot streaks given his propensity to make contact, but odds are that his bat provides little value. When Gregorius returns, things will improve offensively but not as much as we might expect. Last year, Didi showed impressive power and a solid all around offensive game, but I am concerned that he take a step back this season as his shoulder heals. 

Analysis:  Didi has done much better than Derek predicted.

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EJ:  Didi Gregorius' injury will linger longer than we expect. The Yankees will cycle between replacement players until his return in June. Yuck.

Analysis:  Didi came back right on time and has been great.  Hooray! 

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Paul S:  Didi Gregorius comes back in late April and has another great year.  Gregorius will hit .287 and contribute 24 homers.  His defense will be so special that people are going to call him the best fielding Yankees shortstop since...Forever?  Didi's performance will force the Yankees have to make a very tough decision with their great surplus of shortstop talent in the minors.  I'll be less than specific, but predict one of the big prospects gets traded for a solid starting pitcher (Quintana?) who helps the Yankees during the stretch drive.

Analysis:  Didi is doing even better than these high hopes.  Quintana is a Cub.  It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do at the trade deadline.

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Paul V: Torreyes will be fine as a fill in.  He will make the plays he’s supposed to make. Once Didi is back, expect Torreyes to split time with Headley at third.

Analysis:  I’d say Paul was right on with this!

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William:  Late mistake #2. Torreyes is somewhat useful in utility, but a dud decision to start the season. Yes, Gregorius will be back and that will solve the problem, but it would have been a great opportunity to see what they had in Tyler Wade. Wade could have added some real excitement to the lineup while Torreyes doesn't make anyone skip a potty break. Oh well. It is understandable since Wade is not on the 40-man Roster.

Analysis:  Torreyes has done well (last night game excluded).  Tyler Wade is up and coming along slowly.  Didi has been great!

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THIRD BASE

Andy:  While playing solid defense, Chase Headley produces at a below-average clip at the plate through the All-Star break.  In mid-July, the Yankees call-up Gleyber Torres to start at 3rd base, relegating Headley a backup role (3rd/1B/OF).  Torres holds his own as a rookie, producing as a league-average starter.

Analysis:  Right on with Headley.  Why, oh why did Gleyber have to get hurt?

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Derek:  Chase Headley will bore everyone to tears, but boring is good. He’ll be perfectly acceptable at the hot corner. Though there isn't much pop in his bat, he'll get on base at a solid clip and generate a .260/330/390 batting line along with reliable glove work.

Analysis:  Headley has produced at a .255/.344/.372 clip.  Derek has been right on the money.

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EJ:   Chase Headley plays well enough to keep his job all season, but we all wish Miguel Andujar was playing by September. 

Analysis:  EJ has also been right on.  As was said above, boring is good (enough).  And we just might see Andujar sooner than later as the permanent replacement at third.

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Paul S:  I'm not high, at all, on Chase Headley.  I never have been.  I just don't see him producing.  This is a cop out, but I like Andy's thoughts so much that I'm just going so say, "I hope Andy's prediction is what happens."

Analysis:  A copycat prediction?  Andy was right, but copying gets the writer no credit.

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Paul V: Ehh… that’s all I got on Headley.  We will all see plenty of low throws to first and face cringing K’s. Let’s hope for the best!

Analysis:  This is what Headley is, though the defense has been better than hoped here.

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William:  I am officially off the "I Wear Rose-Colored Glasses For Chase Headley" wagon. I long for something more exciting over there. But at least his defense was better last year. :::sigh:::

Analysis:  William, too, was accurate here. 

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CONCLUSION – As a staff, we were all high on Didi Gregorius.  He has not disappointed.  Starlin Castro has had a better season, thus far, than most writers believed would happen.  The predictions were for Chase Headley to be boring, but ok.  These were correct.  Greg Bird’s injury has been a huge blow to the team.  They have not been able to recover any production from first base.  Those who commented on Chris Carter accurately predicted that he would be a disappointment. 

Coming soon… the outfield and catcher.