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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

Projections And Probability: The 2024 Yankees

By Andy Singer

February 5th, 2024



With Spring Training nearly upon us and the core of rosters nearly established (let's ignore the current free agent backlog for the moment), I thought it would be a good idea to more completely discuss the idea of projections and probability as it relates to the 2024 New York Yankees. Many of the most popular publicly available projection systems have been rolling out their team and player-based projections for the 2024 season over the last month or so. A couple of weeks ago, one of the most popular (and often one of the most accurate) projection systems, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS, released its projection for the 2024 Yankees. Those projections were both somewhat encouraging and sobering, depending on what angle from which you choose to view them.


To backup for a moment, ZiPS liked the 2022 Yankees, but it had some very real concerns about the offense and the pitching staff's ability to find enough above-average innings over the long haul to sustain winning. As the 2024 projections article notes, ZiPS correctly predicted the 2022 second-half implosion. ZiPS also liked the 2023 Yankees, but reviewing the projections again makes it clear that the Yankees' depth was sorely lacking, with an over-reliance on aging players. From whence did ZiPS derive its information that others did not?


I like to be optimistic, but I also like to evaluate video and external factors when evaluating players, but that isn't the game of a projection system. Projection systems are cold, hard rationality based on statistics and the algorithms programmed. ZiPS establishes player baseline performance on the previous 4 years of statistical generated for players between the ages of 24-38 (3 years for players outside of that range, and yes, minor league data is used for players who are not in the majors). The system then uses the player's aggregate statistical profile and age to establish player comps. Aging curves and player comps are then used in combination with the player's baseline performance to project the player's performance moving forward. This is the basis for each player's projection, and it's how the system can project team performance each year (it is also updated as time moves forward to account for significant changes to performance). Those performance statistics are updated for likely playing time and ballpark factors. Does it leave out some factors? Probably, but in the vast majority of cases, I think ZiPS does a really good job of presenting the most likely outcomes for individual players.


ZiPS cuts through a lot of junk, in essence. If we take that idea as fact, then the projections are very interesting, particularly in light of how close they got to the truth about the Yankees both in 2022 and 2023. In 2024, ZiPS views the Yankees as a somewhat lesser team than the sum of its parts, and in simulations, ZiPS sees the current team as likely to win 86-90 games. That represents an improvement on 2023, though certainly not anywhere close to what fans like us want to see in 2024. Among the most interesting bits from ZiPS' projections:


  • ZiPS is not yet buying the DJ LeMahieu comeback story line, with a 50th percentile projection of .256/.334/.374. That's an average-ish (or slightly less so) hitter with good defense. Many of you have clamored for an upgrade at 3rd base if the Yankees want to contend for a championship. Still others have anointed DJLM the lead-off hitter on this team. ZiPS throws cold water on those who think the latter, and sympathizes with the former group.

  • As bad as Giancarlo Stanton was in 2023, ZiPS still sees an above-average hitter in the aggregate in 2024, albeit one with diminished power and a low batting average and on-base percentage. A championship team would want a better DH than the guy projected here, but he also wouldn't kill them either if there's enough other help.

  • Many, myself included, believe very strongly in Jasson Dominguez's ability to be an impact player. ZiPS, at least for 2024, doesn't see the same likelihood, projecting a good defender who doesn't hit enough to be a regular. This is almost certainly based on Dominguez's good, not stellar performance in the low and mid minors, with no performance track record at AAA or the Majors.

  • Similarly, ZiPS doesn't seem to believe Austin Wells is an impact bat behind the plate, or at least enough of one to be more than one half of a platoon.

  • The 50th percentile projection for Anthony Volpe is similarly sobering: very modest improvement at the dish, but not enough to make him an impact player.

  • In fact, Peraza is considered a similar player, in the aggregate. I must admit, I didn't admit to see that.

  • For the good news: Judge and Soto project to be two of the 5 best hitters in the sport. If both are healthy, this team looks formidable.

  • Gleyber is an underrated Robin to Judge and Soto's Batman (Batmen?). He is an excellent support player who projects to both hit and play good enough defense up the middle to be valuable.

  • Trent Grisham, who catches the ire of many around here, projects as both an average bat and a well above-average defender in CF. He is flawed, but a really good support player as a 4th outfielder.

  • On the pitching side of the equation, ZiPS sees a good rotation, albeit one that won't produce enough innings. In fact, while ZiPS likes Rodon and Cortes, it projects just 217 IP from the duo in total.

  • The problem is that ZiPS doesn't see a lot of depth behind that, despite all of our talk about Cashman's work to rebuild pitching depth this off-season.

  • On the bright side, ZiPS hints at both Luis Gil and Chase Hampton being useful pitchers in the future...the only question is whether they are useful in 2024.


That's quite a lot to digest, and a lot of it isn't good news for Yankee fans. Projection systems are a useful tool, and optimists like myself would do well to keep projections like this in mind when we make our own evaluations. However, as I alluded to before, there is more to baseball than 50th percentile projections. As they say, the game is played on the field, not on paper for a reason. Here are some things the projection systems could have missed:


  • DJ LeMahieu likely played 1 year of baseball between 2022 and 2023 with a bum toe that greatly impacted his ability to produce at the plate. Could his second half performance be a truer barometer of his baseline performance? If so, then even with some drop-off for age related decline, he's a better ballplayer in 2024 than projected here, and likely capable of top-of-the-order output.

  • Dominguez is a unicorn. There just aren't that many comps for players under the age of 21 playing the levels of baseball Dominguez has played. I can't imagine the confidence factor is high in his projection.

  • What if I'm wrong and Wells can approach average defensively behind the plate? All of a sudden, he's one of the better catchers in the sport as an average-ish hitter with left-handed pop.

  • Anthony Volpe totally changed his hitting mechanics in June, and while the overall numbers still weren't great, he was a solid average hitter in the aggregate after the changes, even when we consider the fact that he ran out of gas in September. Volpe's 80th percentile projection looks a lot like what he flashed from June-August. This team looks so much deeper if that's the case.

  • Stanton could defy the linear aging curve, and have a dead-cat bounce while in better shape. His 80th percentile projection is one that while unlikely, would give him one more year of middle-of-the-order performance.

  • With Gerrit Cole in the fold, it only takes one of the non-Stroman pitchers outperforming their projection to make this a formidable rotation. I'd take the over on one of Rodon, Cortes, or one of the kids to do it.

  • The Yankees know how to build bullpens, period. I believe that until proven otherwise, so bet on it to beat ZiPS' projection.


Is some of this pie in the sky? Maybe! But there is also more to baseball than statistical projections. We need those projections to understand what is most likely, and base decision making on those realities, but there are external factors that could make this team both much better than their current projections, and sadly also much worse. ZiPS is great, and there's a lot of food for thought in this years' projections, but it is not the end of the discussion.

41 commentaires


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
05 févr.

For Volpe, Peraza and Cabrera, I think it will turn on how their hitting is coached. If the team is really pivoting back to making contact instead of launch angle/exit velocity (I keep hearing Jane Russell in that 1970s commercial, "Lifts and separates!"), then they all can be MLB-quality hitters. If the boobs (sorry) continue to have them trying to upper-cut and murder the ball, they're doomed.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
05 févr.
En réponse à

If James Rowson has the same success as the Yankees hitting coach as he had when he was the Minnesota Twins hitting coach, then I expect the Yankee hitters to be coached correctly in that regard. The Twins put up excellent numbers, offensively, when Rowson was the hitting coach over there.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
05 févr.

I always read, "There is no room for this guy" or "Judge has to play in CF because Soto has to be in right and Verdugo has to be in left", and "Where will Dominguez play if he is 100% ready to face major league pitching again?" and "What will happen to Verdugo if the Yankees acquire Bellinger and Judge returns to a corner outfield spot?". In every scenario, we are incorrectly assuming that every player at every position will stay healthy for all 162 games. In a perfect world, that will happen. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and injuries are inevitable, and one or more of the players we are projecting to be the regul…

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Jonathan Silverberg
Jonathan Silverberg
05 févr.

Yanks just traded Matt Gage & a lower minors pitcher to Dodgers for lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson, who had about a 3.50 ERA and about 60 k's in about 50 innings last year.

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Melfman1
Melfman1
06 févr.
En réponse à

Ferguson is making $2.4 million for one year, Peralta just signed for 4 years/$16.5 million. So there are about $14 million reasons why.

J'aime

fuster
05 févr.

more speculation----


if reports of Yankee interest in Tony Kemp are solidly sourced

does such interest in adding Kemp imply that the Yankees are prepared to trade Peraza and/or Cabrera?

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Melfman1
Melfman1
06 févr.
En réponse à

They can’t trade both. Neither Serna or Arias are close to being ready for the majors (and they aren’t on the 40 man). If they are both moved, they would probably need to promote Downs or Smith to be backup SS if Volpe goes down for an extended time.

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cpogo0502
05 févr.

Pure speculation. While it's fun to read its predictive value is dubious, at best. The one thing it does not include into its calculus is the Yankee current roster's historical injury epidemic. I keep coming back to the plan to play Judge in center field. They are just taking for trouble.

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