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  • Paul Semendinger

How Do The NYY Long Shots Finish?

by Paul Semendinger

January 21, 2023

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One idea I have been writing about recently is that as fans we celebrate the Yankees when older players like Matt Carpenter come out of nowhere and play at an outstanding level. We say, "The Yankees are amazing. Brian Cashman did it again. How does he find these guys?"


This is a team building strategy that the Yankees have been using for a long time. When it works, it is amazing and so much fun.


But, as I have also speculated, for every Matt Carpenter, there is a Kendrys Morales who flops and provides negative value. For whatever reason we tend to forget the longshots who don't do well while remembering and celebrating the successful players who do.


When I have these theories, I like to put them to the test. Recently, I have looked at the Yankees' highly touted prospects, the players they signed through the international selection process, and I did a study to determine if the Yankees were the victims of random chance and bad luck when they have lost in the post season over the last decade.


Today I'm going to list the long-shot position players that the Yankees brought in since 2010. I'd like to see if they have mostly flopped or been successful.


For this study, I'll limit this to the following criteria:


A) The player had to be 30-years-old or older when acquired by the Yankees

B) The players was not a major free-agent or trade acquisition


In short, this is a quick study of the older under-the-radar players who the Yankees have brought in to determine if this has been a good approach for the Yankees. (As always, I welcome additional information and thoughts from our readers.)


All of the stats used below come from Baseball-Reference. Players with a positive WAR have that statistic bolded. If a player was a Yankee for multiple seasons, I show their overall numbers and total WAR as a Yankee, but in the year-by-year breakdowns, I count only the WAR that player totaled in that specific season.


Also of note - I do not count any post-season heroics or failures in this exercise. This is a only a regular season breakdown.


This should help determine if bringing in older long shot players has been a good or poor strategy for the Yankees over the last dozen seasons or so...


2010

Austin Kearns, Age 30: 36 games, .235/2/7 0.0 WAR

Marcus Thames, Age 33: 82 games, .288/12/33 0.5 WAR

Lance Berkman, Age 34: 37 games, .255/1/9 -0.3 WAR

Randy Winn, Age 36: 29 games, .213/1/8 -0.7 WAR

Overall WAR 2010: -0.5 WAR


***

2011

Eric Chavez, Age 33: (played 2 seasons in NY): 171 games, .274/18/63 2.0 WAR

Andruw Jones, Age 34: (played 2 seasons in NY): 171 games, .220/27/67 1.1 WAR


Overall WAR 2011: (Just the first year of these players): 1.3 WAR


***

2012

Chris Stewart, Age 30: (played 2 seasons in NY): 265 games, .219/5/38 0.7 WAR

Darnell McDonald, Age 33: 4 games, .000/0/0 -0.1 WAR

Dewayne Wise, Age 34: 55 games, .262/3/8 0.5 WAR

Ichiro Suzuki, Age 38: (played 3 seasons in NY): .360 games, .281/13/84 3.3 WAR

Raul Ibanez, Age 40: 130 games, .240/16/62 0.5 WAR


Overall WAR 2012 (just 2012 for the multiple year Yankees): 3.6 WAR


***

2013

Alberto Gonzalez, Age 30: 13 games, .176/0/4 -0.1 WAR

Ben Francisco, Age 31: 21 games, .114/1/1 -0.4 WAR

Brendan Ryan, Age 31: (played 3 seasons in NY) 113 games .201/1/17 -0.4 WAR

Kevin Youkilis, Age 34: 28 games, .219/2/8 -0.4 WAR

Vernon Wells, Age 34: 130 games, .233/11/50 -0.1 WAR

Travis Hafner, Age 36: 82 games, .202/12/37 -0.1 WAR

Lyle Overbay, Age 36: 142 games, .240/14/59 0.0 WAR

Alfonso Soriano, Age 37: (played 2 seasons in NY) 125 games, .238/23/73 0.9 WAR


Overall WAR 2013 (just 2013 for multiple year Yankees): 3.4 WAR


***

2014

Antoan Richardson, Age 30: 13 games, .313/0/1 0.1 WAR

Chris Young, Age 30: (played 2 seasons in NY) 163 games .257/17/52 2.0 WAR

Martin Prado, Age 30: 37 games .316/7/16 2.1 WAR

Stephen Drew, Age 31: (played 2 seasons in NY) 177 games .187/20/59 -0.7 WAR

Kelly Johnson, Age 32: 77 games .219/6/22 0.3 WAR

Brian Roberts, Age 36, 91 games .237/5/21 0.7 WAR


Note: Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran all came to the Yankees in 2014, and all were over 30-years-old, but these were consider significant additions and were not longshots.


Overall WAR 2014 (just 2014 for multiple year Yankees): 2.2 WAR


***

2015

Gregorio Petit, Age 30: 20 games, .167/0/5 -0.6 WAR

Garrett Jones, Age 34: 57 games, .215/5/17 -0.6 WAR


Overall WAR 2015 (just 2015 for multiple year Yankees): 0.1 WAR


***

2016

Billy Butler, Age 30: 12 games, .345/1/4 0.0 WAR

Eric Young, Jr., Age 31: 6 games, .000/0/0 -0.1 WAR


Overall WAR 2016: -0.1 WAR


***

2017

Chris Carter, Age 30: 62 games, .201/8/26 -0.8 WAR

Todd Frazier, Age 31: 66 games, .222/11/32 1.1 WAR

Matt Holliday, Age 37: 105 games, .231/19/64 -0.1 WAR

Erik Kratz, Age 37: 4 games, 1.000/0/2 0.1 WAR (Note - Kratz was a Yankee in two non-consecutive seasons so each season stands alone in this analysis)


Note: I'm not considering Matt Holiday a significant addition that was acquired. I see him as a long shot that was acquired. Some of my determinations are, obviously, up for debate.


Overall WAR 2017: 0.3 WAR


***

2018

Andrew McCutchen, Age 31: 25 games, .253/5/10 0.9 WAR

Neil Walker, Age 32, 113 games, .219/11/46 -0.1 WAR

Shane Robinson, Age 33: 35 games, .143/1/2 0.1 WAR


Overall WAR 2018: 0.9 WAR


***

2019

Cameron Maybin, Age 32: 82 games, .285/11/32 1.6 WAR

Troy Tulowitzki, Age 34: 5 games, .182/1/1 0.0 WAR

Kendrys Morales, Age 36: 19 games, .177/1/5 -0.4 WAR

Edwin Encarnacion, Age 36: 44 games, .157/10/19 0.7 WAR


Note: D.J. LeMahieu was 30-years-old when signed for 2019, but I see him as a significant Yankees acquisition.


Overall WAR 2019: 1.9 WAR


***

2020

Jordy Mercer, Age 33: 6 games, .182/0/0 0.0 WAR

Erik Kratz (again!), Age 40: 16 games, .321/0/4 0.4 WAR


Overall WAR 2020: 0.4 WAR


***

2021

Rob Brantley, Age 31: (played 2 seasons in NY) 7 games, .174/0/0/ -0.1 WAR

Ryan LeMarre, Age 32: 9 games, .190/2/4 0.0 WAR

Jay Bruce, Age 34: 10 games, .118/1/3 -0.3 WAR


Note: Anthony Rizzo joined the Yankees in 2021. He was a significant addition.


Overall WAR 2021 (just 2021 for Rob Brantley): -0.5 WAR


***

2022

Marwin Gonzalez, Age 33: 85 games, .185/6/18 0.7 WAR

Matt Carpenter, Age 36: 47 games, .305/15/37 2.4 WAR


Note: Josh Donaldson joined the Yankees in 2022 as a significant part of the team.


Overall WAR 2022 (just 2022 for Rob Brantley): 3.1 WAR


***

CONCLUSION:


My original hypothesis was proven incorrect. The Yankees have had positive production from the long shot acquisitions in every season since 2010 except 2010, 2016, and 2021. The vast majority of years, the long shot players acquired by the Yankees have paid positive dividends.


Of special note, the total WAR from these players, in total, accumulated over their entire times as a Yankee is an extremely impressive 16.1 WAR.


47 players met the citeria I listed above. 22 players posted a positive WAR. 19 players posted a negative WAR. 6 ended with a WAR of 0.0.


More often than not, Brian Cashman has correct with the long shot players he has brought to the team. He deserves credit for this very impressive track record.

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