I think last season was Joe Girardi’s best as manager. He guided a team devastated by injuries to 85 wins. If you look at the raw numbers last season, the Yankees probably should not have finished above .500. So, I would contend that the Yankees need to improve a lot more than their 2013 record would indicate if they hope to make the playoffs. Can they? Let’s take a look at the 2013 and 2014 squads through the lens of ZIPS projections and WAR. (all 2014 #’s projections from Fangraphs)
2013- Chris Stewart .211/.293/.272 0.5 WAR
2014- Brian McCann .258/.340/.451 3.1 WAR
Right off the bat a big upgrade. +2.6
2013- Lyle Overbay .240/.295/.393 0.0 WAR
2014- Mark Teixeira .248/.340/.464 1.8 WAR
Another upgrade +1.8/4.4 cumulative
2013- Robinson Cano .314/.383/.516 6.0 WAR
2014 Brian Roberts and Eduardo Nunez 0.7 WAR combined
A huge loss. -5.3/-0.9 cumulative
ZIPS thinks Roberts plays only 53 games, so I used Nunez’s projection to get closer to 162. Anyway you slice it, this is a big, big hole.
2013- Nix, Nunez, Jeter and Others about a -1.0 WAR
2014- Jeter/Ryan 1.4 WAR
A gain +2.4/+1.5 cumulative
ZIPS doesn’t like Jeter’s chances to play a lot, so it holds him to 69 games. I added in Ryan’s numbers.
2013- A cast of thousands 0.0 WAR
2014- Kelly Johnson .232/.315/.405 1.5 WAR
A gain +1.5 WAR/+3.0 cumulative
When you look at the 2014 Yankees infield it is easy to be pessimistic, but look at what they are replacing! The saddest part about the 0.0 WAR for 2013 is that it took A-Rod’s Other than Cano, the 2013 infield was a disaster.
2013- Vernon Wells .233/.289/.349 -0.8 WAR
2014- Brett Gardner .259/.339/.388 2.4 WAR
A big gain +3.2/+6.2 cumulative
I wish I could forget the Vernon Wells experiment. I wish I could.
2013- Brett Gardner .273/.344/.416 3.2 WAR
2014- Jacoby Ellsbury .286/.341/.448 4.1 WAR
Not as much of a gain as you thought +0.9 WAR/+7.1 cumulative
2013- Ichiro Suzuki .262./.297/.342 1.1 WAR
2014 Carlos Beltran .267/.327/.479 1.8 WAR
A gain, but once again not as much as you would have thought. +0.7 WAR/+7.8 cumulative
2013- Hafner, Soriano, Granderson and others +2.8 WAR
2014- Soriano .247/.297/.484 2.2 WAR
A small loss -0.6 WAR/+7.1 WAR cumulative
Yes, I had to get a bit creative to make the comparisons, but I think they work well enough. 7 wins of improvement is a good start, but the pitching is going to be just as important. We will look at that more tomorrow.