My Yankees 2020 Predictions (Things To Look For)
By James Vlietstra
Yesterday, I outlined how I see the Yankees roster shaping out.
Today, I’ll make some preseason predictions and share what I am looking forward to seeing.
The 29-year old Gerrit Cole signed a lucrative 9-year/ $324M contract during the off season. Last year with the Houston Astros, during the dates of July 22-September 29, he made 11 starts. The Astros won all 11 games as Cole went 9-0 with a 1.55 ERA while striking out 121 batters in 75.2 innings. That’s roughly the length of this season. As such, expectations are high.
Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton are all impending free agents (Happ has a vesting option, if prorated its 61 IP). They are all going to be pitching for their next big payday. If they can be productive members of a championship team, they will be rewarded.
Clarke Schmidt is my early favorite to be the Rookie Of The Year winner in the American League. The former first round pick is healthy after undergoing Tommy John Surgery while at South Carolina.
After opening day on July 23, the Yankees have an off day and then 16 straight days before their next breather. If I had to lay out the first 17 starters would be:
Cole, Paxton, Happ, Schmidt, Montgomery
Cole, Paxton, Happ, Schmidt, Tanaka
Cole, Montgomery, Paxton, Happ, Schmidt, Tanaka, Cole
That comes out to four starts for Cole, three each for Paxton, Happ, and Schmidt and two for both Montgomery and Tanaka.
The Yankees’ bullpen was one of the best in baseball last year and should repeat the performance this year. Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined for a WAR of 7.2 last year. There’s no reason to expect anything less. (Who knows, they might even be better!)
The Yankees lineup features four players that can each challenge to win the league MVP award. These four superstars will lead them to the playoffs and beyond:
Gleyber Torres is a 23-year old Venezuelan native. His 162-game average includes 91 runs scored, 163 hits, 25 doubles, 38 homers, 101 RBI .and 849 OPS.
Gary Sanchez is a 27-year old Dominican. His 162-game averages are 98 Runs, 149 Hits, 27 doubles, 46 homers 114 RBI .and 846 OPS
Aaron Judge is a 28-year old Californian. His 162-game averages are 119 Runs, 158 hits, 27 doubles, 45 homers, 101 RBI, and .952 OPS
Giancarlo Stanton is another 30-year old Californian. His 162-game averages are 96 runs, 159 hits, 33 doubles, 43 homers, 109 RBI, and .905 OPS
All four of these elite players will be at the top of their game. If they remain healthy, the Yankees offense will be fun to watch. It will be a powerhouse that should make them very difficult to beat day-after-day.
During his 2017 MVP campaign with the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton actually had a 61 game span which he started 60 games, scored 60 runs, knocked in 63 runs, drew 36 walks, hit 13 doubles and smashed 33 HRs while producing a 1.232 OPS. It’s not out of the question that a healthy Stanton over a short season could put up similar numbers.
Since the start of 2017, Aaron Judge has produced 19.4 WAR during 369 games, many of which were played while not fully healthy. That is an average of one WAR for every 19 games played. That’s 8.5 per 162. He is one of only 2-3 players capable of producing a 4+ WAR this season. He could even approach 5.
The Yankees are primed for having one of the best teams in baseball this season. If they are able to produce at a level they are capable of, the 2020 team will be a team we long remember as one of the greatest teams assembled. In order for that to occur, they need to successfully attain the championship that has eluded them for the past 11 seasons.
I, for one, can’t wait to enjoy it.