2022 Fantasy Baseball: New York Yankees Team Outlook

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

Player profiles, stats and analysis for New York Yankees hitters and pitchers.

Over the past 21 seasons, the Yankees made the postseason 17 times, but they only won the World Series in 2009. Despite their success, New York won their division once over the past nine years. Their franchise has the most World Series titles (27) by a wide margin (St. Louis Cardinals – 11).

The Yankees ranked sixth in ERA (3.74) with 13 shutouts. Their bullpen (3.56 ERA – 4th) won 48 games with 30 losses and 47 saves. New York struggled to score runs (711 – 19th) while delivering 222 home runs (6th) and 63 stolen bases (19th).

IF Jose Peraza was the only free agent added via a minor league deal in the offseason. The Yankees released OF Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor, and 1B Chirs Gittens. New York lost 1B Anthony Rizzo (unsigned), SP Corey Kluber (TB), Andrew Heaney (LAD), and Brett Gardner (unsigned) to free agency.

Their offense has plenty of power and upside, but all key players need to stay healthy and have productive seasons. 2B Gleyber Torres and 3B DJ LeMahieu finished with stats well below their breakout seasons in 2019.

Aroldis Chapman may not be the answer in the ninth after fading over the final four months in 2021.

Hopefully, the return of SP Luis Severino gives the Yankees their second ace, which would help their quest for a World Series title tremendously. Unfortunately, Gerrit Cole lost some of his luster over the second half of last year after major league baseball cracked down on pitchers using substances to improve their grip and spin rate.

Entering 2020, the Blue Jays and Rays looked ahead of New York in the AL East rankings.

Starting Lineup

2B DJ LeMahieu

The tease of power and RBI production from 2019 proved to be the outlier for LeMahieu in 2021. First, his success in RBI (102) in his breakout year came from a massive RBI (23), not elite RBI chances (343). Last year he had two fewer men on base with similar at-bats, but LeMahieu drove in 45 fewer runs. His ground ball swing (52 percent – 53.2 in his career) limits his power, but his regression in home runs came from a sharp decline in his HR/FB rate (7.7 – 19.3 in 2019 and 27.0 in 2020). In addition, He saw his contact batting average (.318 – .385 in 2019 and .408 in 2020) decline dramatically.

LeMahieu finished with a new top in his walk rate (10.8) and repeated success in his strikeout rate (13.8). His only month of value came in June (.292 with 12 runs, four home runs, and 19 RBI over 113 at-bats). He did have the 19th ranked hard-hit rate (48.3) for batters with over 250 plate appearances.

Fantasy Outlook

Based on SIscore (-1.87), LeMahieu ranked 115th for hitters, but fantasy managers are drafting as the 70th batter in the early draft season based on his ADP (115). I could see a rebound in batting average with help in runs, but the direction of his swing path restricts his power while having limited RBI chances batting leadoff for New York. At age 33, 100 runs with a .280 BA, 15 home runs, and 75 RBI would be a viable outcome for LeMahieu.

OF Aaron Judge

In his first season with 550 at-bats, Judge set a career-high batting average (.287) despite a slight decline in his contact batting average (.403 – .442 from 2017 to 2020). He finished with an improved strikeout rate (25.0 – 29.7 in his career), but Judge did take fewer walks (11.9 percent). His quest to control the strike zone better also led to a slight decline in his HR/FB rate (27.7 – 31.2 in his career) while remaining in an elite area.

Judge played well over his final 64 games (.294 with 38 runs, 18 home runs, 51 RBI, and five steals over 238 at-bats) after missing 10 days in a Covid-19 issue. He finished with the highest hard-hit rate (58.4) while barreling up 17.6 percent of his balls in plays (11th). However, a lower launch angle (11.6 – 192nd) continues to hold him back in the power department.

Fantasy Outlook

Only twice in Judge’s career has he had over 600 plate appearances. He delivered 217 runs, 91 home runs, 212 RBI, and 15 steals over 992 at-bats in those two seasons. His ADP (40) seems reasonable when considering his ceiling. Judge is the 26th hitter off the table with a 2021 SIscore of 4.90 (21st). Possible fantasy monster, all he has to do is stay on the field for 150 games.

2B Gleyber Torres

Over his first two seasons with the Yankees, Torres hit .275 over 977 at-bats with 150 runs, 62 home runs, 167 RBI, and 11 stolen bases, leading to a Rookie of the Year award and two All-Star appearances. Unfortunately, he lost his way in 2020 (.243/17/3/16/1) over short at-bats (136) despite showing growth in his approach. Torres turned into a complete fantasy bust last year. His average hit rate (1.412) now sits in a range with the lightest hitting players in baseball. He maintained a good approach (strikeout rate – 20.7 and walk rate – 9.7).

Torres held his own against lefties (.293 with five home runs and 15 RBI over 140 at-bats). However, his slugging percentage (.332) was a disaster vs. right-handed pitching (.245 with four home runs and 36 RBI over 319 at-bats). He had a slight bump in his line drive rate (22.3) but an empty HR/FB rate (6.9 – 17.9 in 2018 and 21.5 in 2019).

Fantasy Outlook

The Yankees have a unique structure to their starting lineup, but they need to squeeze a player who doesn’t strike out at a high rate to bat somewhere between Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo. Torres has the approach to hit second and the previous power to hit third or fourth if he regains his confidence at the plate. I sense that hE will HALT his fading direction and climb off the MATT in 2022. Torres fell one game short of a qualification at second base, but that should come early in the season. His ADP (155) is more than reasonable for his expected rebound. Next step: .290 with 100 runs, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and some help in steals.

OF Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton wondered his way through the first four months of the season (.254 over 303 at-bats with 34 runs, 16 home runs, and 46 RBI), giving fantasy managers buyers remorse. He missed about two weeks in May with a quad issue. Over his final 207 at-bats, Stanton made some ground in his trailing stats (.300/30/19/51). His approach aligned with his career resume while repeating his high contact batting average (.394).

His swing had almost the same value against right-handed (.273/44/25/71 over 366 at-bats) and left-handed (.271/20/10/26 over 144 at-bats) pitching. Stanton posted an identical HR/FB rate (26.7) to his career average, but he doesn’t hit as many fly balls (36.8 percent) as he did earlier in his career. His hard-hit rate (56.3) finished second to Aaron Judge, with a weaker launch angle (10.3 percent).

Fantasy Outlook

It’s hard to believe Stanton will turn 33 in June. He needs 153 home runs to reach 500 for his career. His ADP (96) ranks him as the 59th hitter drafted, which almost matches his finish in SIscore (1.40 – 58th) last season. More the same while still owning injury risk. Many games at DH give him a better chance to stay on the field.

OF Joey Gallo

Gallo is the king of ups and downs in baseball. Last year, he led the American League in walks (111) and strikeouts (213). In between, Gallo smashed 38 home runs with a second straight season with a sub-.200 batting average (.181 and .199). Despite the appearance of disaster at the plate, he did get on base 207 times with the second-highest OPS (.351) of his career.

With New York, Gallo had a higher strikeout rate (38.6 – 34.6 in Texas) while only driving in two runs when he didn’t hit a home run. In addition, his RBI rate (11) was disturbingly low (15 percent from 2018 to 2020). However, Gallo continues to have a flyball swing path (50.7 percent) and a high HR/FB rate (27.1). His launch angle (22.7 – 4th) in 2021 paired with a short porch in right field in New York, inviting a career-high in home runs. When putting the ball in play, he barreled 18.5 percent of his balls in play.

Fantasy Outlook

Gallo is too frustrating to hit higher in the batting order. He is also a challenging player to roster in the fantasy market due to his batting average risk. His ADP (182) falls in a range where a team out of position in home runs will take the plunge. Let’s place his value at .210 with 90 runs, 45 home runs, 90 RBI, and a handful of steals.

1B Luke Voit

After a productive short season in 2020, Voit started the injured list with a left knee issue that required surgery. He also missed time with an oblique issue and a lingering problem with his left knee twice more. Voit finished the season with a spike in his strikeout rate (30.7) and a weaker walk rate (8.7). Over his four seasons with the Yankees, he hit .271 with 167 runs, 68 home runs, and 182 RBI over 987 at-bats.

Voit has a balanced swing path while owning a top-tier HR/FB rate (20.0 – 25.8 in his career). His bat has almost the same success against right-handed (.268/50/143 over 794 at-bats) and left-handed (.264/23/60 over 318 at-bats) pitching.

Fantasy Outlook

At age 31, he has a short resume while never having over 430 at-bats in any season in the majors. The combination of his average hit rate (1.824) and contact batting average (.367) supports a neutral batting average with 30 home run upside. His ADP (278) points to a value at the corner position as long as his knee issue is behind him in spring training. With a healthy season, Voit could bat third or fourth in the batting order.

OF Aaron Hicks

Over the past four seasons, Hicks only hit .235 with 172 runs, 49 home runs, 150 RBI, and 16 steals over 978 at-bats. His average hit rate (1.842) over his last 1,279 at-bats gives him 30-plus home run upside. He takes plenty of walks (12.4 percent in his career), with a league-average strikeout rate (21.0).

Hicks came out of the gate in 2021 with a .194 batting average over 108 at-bats with 13 runs, four home runs, and 14 RBI. However, he suffered a left wrist injury in mid-May, costing him the remainder of the year.

His bat hasn’t been an edge in his career against either right-handed (.226 BAA) or left-handed (.248 BAA) pitching.

Fantasy Outlook

Hicks only has one season of value on his major league resume (2018). If New York doesn’t add another batter, he will be the starting center fielder on opening day. I only see a gap player to cover an injury in deep formats, but Hicks has enough talent over a short-term window.

C Gary Sanchez

Sanchez continues to be a black hole in batting average while still owning a home run swing. His average hit rate (2.077) has been elite over the past four seasons, leading to 85 home runs over 1,258 at-bats. He still has a favorable walk rate (11.8) with a rebound closer to his career average (26.5 percent) in his strikeout rate (27.5). Sanchez posted a dismal contact batting average (.298) for the third time since 2017.

In June, he hit .289 with eight home runs and 19 RBI over 83 at-bats. Over his other five months, Sanchez struggled over 300 at-bats (.180/13/35). His swing path remains flyball favoring (46.2 percent) with a high HR/FB rate (19.0).

Fantasy Outlook

Despite his warts, Sanchez is the 16th ranked catcher in the early draft season in the NFBC with an ADP (258). It’s all about the home runs here and many prayers that his batting average regains a pulse—not my kind of dance.

SS Gio Urshela

After a breakthrough season in 2019, Urshela hit .275 over his next 571 at-bats with 66 runs, 20 home runs, 79 RBI, and two stolen bases. However, his average hit rate (1.571) and RBI rate (15) lost momentum in 2021. His approach also had a regression (strikeout rate – 24.7 and walk rate – 4.5).

Urshela played better against left-handed pitching (.293 with four home runs and 13 RBI over 133 at-bats). Over six seasons at AAA, Urshela hit .275 with 32 home runs and 190 RBI over 1,474 at-bats.

His swing path has a line drive feel, leading to a low fly ball rate (32.3 in 2020 and 29.8 in 2021). Urshela finished with a mid-tier HR/FB rate over the previous three seasons (17.5, 14.3, and 15.1). He battled Covid-19 plus knee, leg, hamstring, hand, and thigh issues, leading to 43 missed games.

Fantasy Outlook

New York should give him playing time at shortstop and third base. Urshela tends to be clutch with runners on base with the skill set to help in batting average. With 480 at-bats, he should produce neutral stats in runs (70), home runs (20), and RBI (70).

Bench Options

OF Miguel Andujar

When the gate opened for the 2019 season, there was something wrong with Andujar based on his poor at-bats over two weeks (.128 with no home runs, one RBI, and 11 strikeouts over 47 at-bats). He suffered a tear in the labrum in his right shoulder in the third game of the season that needed surgery on May 20th. Over his past three seasons, Andujar saw action in only 78 games (.228/25/7/18 over 263 at-bats).

In 2021, he flashed at AAA over 54 at-bats (.333 with13 runs, five home runs, and 13 RBI). Unfortunately, he missed most of the year with New York due to a left wrist injury.

Fantasy Outlook

There was a lot to like about Andujar in his rookie season in 2018. Most will write him off, but he is young enough to regain his previous form. His defense limits him to left field, but his future has a DH-only feel. Viable flier in AL leagues, and fantasy managers need to pay attention to his bat in spring training as Andujar could come quickly if given a starting opportunity.

2B Jose Peraza

Even with a big year in 2018 (.288 with 85/14/58/23), Peraza didn’t have the average hit rate (1.444) to support growth or even repeat his value in power. His contact batting average was a disaster in 2019 (.283), followed by weakness over the next two seasons (.269 and .250), along with his hard-hit rate (25.7, 27.7, and 25.0).

Over the past three seasons, Peraza hit .229 with 71 runs, 13 home runs, 61 RBI, and nine steals over 629 at-bats. His strikeout rate (16.9) remains low, but it has risen in the last three years. He made an effort to add loft to his swing over the previous three years. In 2021, Peraza had the highest HR/FB rate (10.9) of his career, highlighted by the spike in his average hit rate (1.862).

Fantasy Outlook

He’ll turn 28 late in April, but Peraza has only had a starting job twice in his seven seasons in the majors. However, the Yankees tend to find diamonds in the rough, so I could see him surprising if given a bump in playing time.

Starting Pitching

SP Gerrit Cole

Over 42 starts with the Yankees, Cole won 23 games with a 3.11 ERA and 337 strikeouts over 254.1 innings. He finished with six disaster starts (34 runs and 54 baserunners over 32.1 innings) in 2021. Over his other 149 innings, Cole posted a 1.87 ERA and 200 strikeouts.

The crackdown on Spider Tack in mid-June led to regression over his final 16 starts (4.12 ERA and 1.265 WHIP). Over this span, he surrendered 14 home runs (1.4 per nine innings). In August, Cole missed the first two weeks with a Covid-19 issue, plus some time in September with a minor hamstring injury.

His average fastball (97.8) was the best of his career. Batters hit .220 vs. his four-seam fastball. Cole offers an elite slider (.176 BAA) and a plus changeup (.211). The pitches most affected after June 15th by the pitching substance change in mid-June were his changeup (.257 BAA) and curveball (.357 BAA – .299 on the year).

Fantasy Outlook

Cole has an electric resume over the previous four seasons. He comes off the board as the second pitcher behind Shohei Ohtani with an ADP of 9. The pluses outweighed the questions last season, suggesting another elite season. I expect another year with an ERA under 3.00 with 250+ strikeouts. Cole is one of the best winning games, which creates an edge for fantasy teams.

SP Luis Severino

Three weeks after signing a four-year $40 contract in 2019, the Yankees scratched Severino from his start in spring training. The first report suggested rotator cuff inflammation that required a cortisone shot. By the end of March, he was long tossing giving fantasy owners hope that he would be a value after a massive drop in price point due to his injury. In early April, New York shut him down with a lat strain (second injury). Severino didn’t return to the mound (rehab work) until early August.

His first and only appearance in the minors came on September 1st (two runs and three hits over one inning). New York gave him three starts over the second half of the month, which led to a 1.50 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. In the playoffs, he allowed two runs and 14 baserunners over 8.1 innings with 10 strikeouts).

In 2020 in February, Severino blew out his right elbow that led to TJ surgery. Last year his recovery stalled in June, pushing his next appearance to August 3rd. Two appearances later, groin and shoulder issues forced him to miss another six weeks. Severino ended the year with six shutout innings for New York with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Fantasy Outlook

Severino went 33-14 over 384.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 450 strikeouts in 2017 and 2018. His ADP (167) ranks him as the 63rd pitcher drafted in mid-January in the NFBC. He is in the final year of his contract (team option for 2023), so New York should ride him hard this season. His setbacks last summer suggest 2022 won’t be an easy ride, but Severino has the ability to win 15 games with an edge in ERA and strikeouts.

SP Jordan Montgomery

Montgomery was up and down over his eight starts, leading to a 4.75 ERA over 41.2 innings. His arm shined over his next 17 starts (2.89 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, and 90 strikeouts over 93.1 innings. In September, a couple of disaster starts (12 runs and 19 baserunners over six innings) led to a disappointing month (5.33 ERA) despite allowing only one run in each of his other four games over 21 innings.

His average fastball (92.7) rose over the past three seasons. Montgomery features a winning changeup (1.73 BAA) and curveball (.188 BAA), but he needs growth in his cutter (.319 BAA) and sinker (.364 BAA). His flyball rate (36.3) was a three-year high while lowering his HR/FB rate (11.8).

Fantasy Outlook

Montgomery threw the most strikes of his career, highlighted by his first-pitch strikeout rate (67). His WHIP and home runs allowed need work to reach an impact level in ERA. More wins should come naturally. He has an attractive ADP (224). I see a sub 3.50 ERA with over 13 wins and 180 strikeouts.

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