by James Vlietstra
Earlier this week for the Tuesday Discussion, we were asked to pick a player that we expected to have a better season and a player to have a worse season. As usual, our writers did a tremendous job with the assignment. Here is the link to their answers. I did not have a chance to contribute as I was traveling, but wanted to weigh in with my opinions.
Instead of just one or two players, I will fly through the top 20-30 or so players on the roster with what I see as a realistic season. I would love to take this back out in June or July to see how accurate I am.
C Jose Trevino - He was an All Star in the first half and had a rough second half. He handles the pitching staff well. I think he keeps his starting spot based on his defense but offense continues to slip.
C Kyle Higashioka - Has been a decent back up since coming up in 2017. He occasionally steps into a home run but offers little else offensively. I see their 2008 7th round pick struggling to reach opening day
C Ben Rortvedt - The third piece in the Twins trade last year. Was injured. I see him forcing the Yankees decision in spring training. Big difference is he still has options and Higgy doesn’t.
1B Anthony Rizzo - Hard to say a 33 year old that hit 32 homers and slugged .480 could be poised for a huge improvement, but with the shift being eliminated, I can see his average, OBP, runs scored, and RBIs all raising 25+.
2B Gleyber Torres - 26 years old. Had a 4.1 WAR last year. Can see him being about the same, maybe slightly better. If he puts up a 4.5 WAR as their 4th best hitter, the team is in great shape.
SS Isiah Kiner Falefa - He put up a 3.0 WAR last year. I can’t see him approaching that. I really can’t envision him playing enough to be better. That leaves worse as his only option. Although a former gold glover with manageable salary could be a decent trade piece.
SS Oswald Peraza - His defense has been MLB ready for years. He came up late last year and wasn’t overmatched at all. Hard to believe he’s not going to win the starting spot out of spring training and put up a 3-4 WAR.
3B Josh Donaldson - Long gone are his days of averaging 7+ WAR per year, but last year he fell off a cliff at 2.3. At 37, I think he still has something in the tank and he can rebound towards a 3-4 win player.
U DJ LeMahieu - He turns 35 in July. He’s battling a toe injury. He had a 3.8 WAR in 125 games last year while winning a gold glove. I can see him matching last year.
U Oswaldo Cabrera - He played 44 games as a rookie and put together a 1.9 WAR. That’s a 7.0 over a 162 game average. He was decent offensively but an out of this world great defensively with 12 DRS. His best shot at playing every day is probably in left field. Otherwise he probably plays 2-3 days a week at 4-5 positions, giving others a day off. Hard to predict what we can expect from him. Maybe a WAR around 3?
OF Aaron Hicks - Last year he produced a 1.6 WAR in 130 games. His defense was suspect. It’s hard to believe that he can possibly have a worse year and stay on the roster.
OF Estevan Florial - He is out of options so has to stick or get DFAd. His defense and speed alone likely allows him a roster spot as the 4th outfielder, coming in to play late defense behind Hicks or Stanton. I can’t see him lasting the year.
OF Harrison Bader - The gold glove winning local kid had himself an impressive playoffs. He was injured most of the regular season after coming over in a trade deadline deal. I can see a WAR approaching 5 as he embraces the heritage of his role as starting center fielder.
OF Aaron Judge - The easy answer is to say he put up a 10.6 last year, how can he possibly be better? I may actually disagree slightly. I think he realized in July that he was capable of competing for the batting title and put in one hell of a fight. I think he wins the Triple Crown. .325/.465/.630 slash line. Maybe only 45 homers, but 135 runs and RBIs.
DH Giancarlo Stanton - 0.7 WAR in 110 games? Health will be a key but so will the elimination of the shift. He hits the ball so hard that if it’s not right at a fielder it goes through. 40 homers should be his goal every spring.
SP Gerrit Cole - 13-8, 2.4 WAR, 3.50 ERA Not exactly ace type numbers. Gave up way too many homers. Would love to see him improve significantly. How about 16-6. 4.4 WAR 2.3 ERA.
SP Carlos Rodon - Rodon is replacing Jameson Taillon in the rotation. Taillon went 14-5, 3.91 ERA and 1.3 WAR in 177.1 innings. I see a huge improvement over last year. Rodon has posted consecutive 5+ WAR seasons.
SP Nestor Cortes - He posted 12-4, 2.44 ERA, 4.2 WAR in 158.1 IP. If he can throw 25 more innings without suffering fatigue, he could approach a 6 WAR. I’m going to venture onto a limb and say improvement.
SP Luis Severino - After several misdiagnoses followed by TJS and recovery Severino finally returned to throw 102 innings. Now fully healthy and playing for a contract, I expect a WAR approaching 6, much improved over his 1.6 from 2022.
SP Frankie Montas - His -0.6 WAR in 8 starts after another failed trade for a pitcher from Oakland seems difficult to repeat. However missing the first month with a shoulder injury seems like the way to go about it. I will not hold my breath expecting his triumphant return. Although I suppose not pitching will provide a better WAR than last year.
SP Domingo German - He’s only thrown 170 innings since his breakout campaign of 2019. I can see him pitching lots of early season innings while Montas is out. Bound to be better.
SP Clarke Schmidt - Approaching 27, the former first round pick has had a disappointing start to his career. Last year he managed only 0.8 WAR in 57.2 innings working as both a starter and reliever. Time to step up and dominate. This will be an important spring if he wants to play a bigger role for the team.
RP Clay Holmes - He spent most of last year as a dominant, all star closer. Hard to see a repeat of that, but he can still be good even if he’s not as good as last year.
RP Jonathan Loasiga - Another pitcher that struggled mightily last year making it difficult to not improve.
RP Michael King - He started off the year extremely dominant but then suffered a season ending injury. This year he needs to stay healthy and that will allow him to improve.
For a team that already won 99 regular season games last year, I see it very possible for several of their players to not just improve, but possibly by very large margins. Although, I am sure we all agree that the season would still not be a success if they once again failed to get past the Astros.
The Yankees have lost in their last five attempts at winning the ALCS, leaving their pennant total at 40. If this team manages to advance to and win the World Series, it could be viewed as one of the best teams ever.