2023 MLB Season Preview: New York Yankees

Image: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

2022 Record: 99-63 (.611 win%, 1st in Division)

2023 Payroll: $267,954,047 (2nd)

2023 Projected Lineup:

1. DH DJ LeMahieu, .274 AVG/.352 OBP/.403 SLG, 2.7 fWAR 

2. CF Aaron Judge, .278 AVG/.384 OBP/.558 SLG, 7.0 fWAR

3. 1B Anthony Rizzo, .251 AVG/.348 OBP/.457 SLG, 2.7 fWAR

4. RF Giancarlo Stanton, .247 AVG/.330 OBP/.489 SLG, 2.4 fWAR

5. 2B Gleyber Torres, .264 AVG/.329 OBP/.445 SLG, 3.6 fWAR

6. 3B Josh Donaldson, .227 AVG/.319 OBP/.397 SLG, 1.3 fWAR

7. LF Aaron Hicks, .228 AVG/.334 OBP/.370 SLG, 1.4 fWAR

8. C Jose Trevino, .245 AVG/.283 OBP/.383 SLG, 2.7 fWAR

9. SS Anthony Volpe .231 AVG/.306 OBP/.386 SLG, 2.4 fWAR

10. UTL Oswaldo Cabrera, .234 AVG/.295 OBP/.402 SLG, 1.0 fWAR

2023 Projected Starting Rotation:

1. Gerrit Cole, 197.0 IP/3.22 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 4.4 fWAR

2. Carlos Rodón 159.0 IP/3.17 ERA/1.06 WHIP, 3.9 fWAR

3. Luis Severino, 154.0 IP/3.60 ERA/1.18 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR

4. Nestor Cortes, 170.0 IP/3.95 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 2.2 fWAR

5. Domingo Germán, 129.0 IP/4.46 ERA/1.29 WHIP, 0.9 fWAR

6. Clarke Schmidt, 107.0 IP/4.07 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 0.8 fWAR

2023 Projected Top 4 Relievers:

1. Clay Holmes, 64.0 IP/3.17 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 0.6 fWAR

2. Jonathan Loáisiga, 66.0 IP/3.51 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 0.4 fWAR

3. Michael King, 67.0 IP/3.28 ERA/1.17 WHIP, 0.7 fWAR

4. Wandy Peralta, 64.0 IP/3.64 ERA/1.31 WHIP, 0.2 fWAR

Important Injured Players (Estimated Return):

RP Tommy Kahnle (Mid April)

SP Luis Severino (Mid April)

SP Carlos Rodón (Mid-to-Late April)

CF Harrison Bader (Late April)

RP Lou Trivino (May)

SP Frankie Montas (Playoffs?)

RP Scott Effross (2024)

Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino will be the second and third starting pitcher, pushing Jhnoy Brito and either Clarke Schmidt or Domingo Germán out of the rotation after each gets a few starts to prove their worth. Kahnle and Trivino will plug in as middle bullpen arms, replacing some young arms that will start the season in the back end of the bullpen. When Bader returns, he will assume the everyday center field role, moving Judge to his normal right field.

What Does Baseball Mean to New York?

New York has, and always will be, a massive sports city, resulting in astronomically high standards. With a large media presence, the pressure is always on. Although there has not been a parade in New York since 2011, the city eagerly and impatiently waits for another. 

Now, with another fully loaded death star, thanks to Steve Cohen, New York has two legitimate chances for a World Series trophy with the Yankees and Mets. Both fan bases are hungry for postseason success because whichever team brings home a championship will have rights to the city until the next New York championship.

2022 Offseason Recap:

The Yankees offseason was almost everything fans could have hoped for. They followed my offseason plan almost exactly. Re-sign and make Aaron Judge captain: ✅. Re-sign Anthony Rizzo: ✅. Add a starting pitcher to replace Jameson Taillon: ✅✅✅(Rodón is a big upgrade). Let Chapman and Britton walk and sign cheaper bullpen options: ✅. Re-sign Benintendi or acquired another left fielder: ❌ (attempted).

Although it appeared for a day that Arson Judge was a San Francisco Giant, the Yankees retained their superstar, signing Judge to a nine-year, $360 million deal. The Yankees had no choice to bring back the reigning MVP who practically carried an offensively struggling team in the second half of the year. Yankee fans are ecstatic that Judge will be a Yankee for life.

The Yankees also re-signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a two-year, $40 million contract. While his batting average was near career low in 2022, the shift restrictions should increase his BABIP (batting average on balls in play). Rizzo also provides invaluable defense and left handed slugging. Tying his single season high in home runs again at 32, Rizzo and the Yankees both were happy to re-up.

After re-establishing the same team as last year, adding Judge and Rizzo, the Yankees felt they needed to make a splash, and they succeeded by bringing in Carlos Rodón. The stud lefty pitcher struggled with injuries from 2017 to 2020 only accumulating 232.1 innings in four seasons. Since then, he has pitched 310.2 innings with a 2.67 ERA, a sub-one WHIP, and 422 strikeouts. If Rodon can continue his dominant tear with the Yankees, Cole and he would be one of the best 1A and 1B options in MLB. 

Other than those three big moves, they let Andrew Benintendi, Tim Locastro, Marwin Gonzlaez, Matt Carpenter, Jameson Taillon, Arodolis Chapman, Zack Britton, Miguel Castro, Lucas Luetge, and Chad Green walk and brought in Tommy Kahnle. 

The majority of the list was depth pieces that have been replaced with younger cost controllable players, especially in the bullpen. While Andrew Benintendi or another left field option would have been icing on the cake, the price tag was too high for the Yankees, leaving them with a rotation of Hicks, Cabrera, and Stanton for the last outfield spot.

2023 Regular Season Preview:

The Yankees lineup is fairly consistent with last year’s, featuring Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Jose Trevino. The biggest questions entering the 2023 season are third base, left field, and shortstop. Aaron Boone has continued to support the Josh Donaldson bounce back season, meaning he will likely see 130+ games at third base or designated hitter again. 

Similarly, Aaron Hicks has stayed a Yankee and projects to be the opening day left fielder, pushing Oswaldo Cabrera to a utility role. Lastly, the Yankees finally pulled the trigger, calling up Jersey native and top prospect Anthony Volpe to be the everyday starting shortstop. Volpe will be the youngest Yankeee to debut on Opening Day since the 1960s. After the call up, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa moves to the bench, joining utility man Oswaldo Cabrera, and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka.

In the offseason, many experts were projecting the starting rotation to be one of the best in baseball if not the best. Then Rodón, Severino, Montas and Cortes got hurt. While Cortes is not expected to miss any time and Rodón and Severino are not expected to miss more than a few weeks, pre-season injuries are concerning for the future health of the rotation down the stretch. If the rotation stays healthy, they will live up to the projections. If Domingo Germán is pitching important playoff innings, there is justification for panic.

In the bullpen, the Yankees have opted to use youth, as no pitcher has accumulated more than five years of MLB service time. The presumed closer, Clay Holmes, was unhittable before the All Star Game and then he collapsed allowing 11 earned runs in 14.1 innings in July and August before a respectable September. Behind him, Jonathan Loáisiga, Michael King, Wandy Peralta, and Ron Marinaccio will likely pitch in higher leverage situations. 

Loáisiga followed up his breakout 2021 season with an opposite year to Holmes as his second half was great but his first half was abysmal. Michael King was lights out with a 11.65 K/9 before his season ending elbow injury in July. Since joining the Yankees in early 2021, Peralta has supported a 2.84 ERA, pitching in pivotal situations, including all five ALDS games. 

In his rookie season, Marinaccio showed tons of promise, pitching to a 2.05 ERA. Behind this bunch, Greg Weissert, Jimmy Cordero, and Albert Abreu will likely pitch in low leverage situations before being replaced by Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino after they return from the injured list.

Player to Watch #1: Carlos Rodón

Watch out AL East! There’s a new ace in town! Rodón has been electric the past two seasons after several early career injuries. With a minimum of 200 innings pitched, he had the lowest FIP (2.42), highest K/9 (12.23), third most WAR (11.1), and the fifth lowest ERA (2.67) in 310.1 innings pitched over the last two seasons. 

Rodón uses his fastball and slider over 90 percent of his pitches. While his change up and sinker combined for around 20 to 30 percent of his pitches early in his career, he almost never throws them now. 

Although Yankees Stadium is known as a hitter friendly park, his 2022 Home Runs Allowed would have dropped from twelve to six if he were pitching in Yankees Stadium as all his allowed home runs were to left field. If Rodon can repeat his recent success for the Yankees, he will become a Bronx legend.

Player to Watch #2: SS Anthony Volpe

When a picture surfaces between Derek Jeter and a new Yankee, fans and the media will instantly get excited. Did I mention he is also a Jersey native, he grew up a Yankees fan, and he’s a shortstop? When these anecdotes arise, the media almost always compare the player to Derek Jeter. While Volpe is a top prospect and looks incredible, he does not need to be Jeter to be considered a success. Please don’t be disappointed if he’s not a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Now that expectations are set, it’s time to get hype about Anthony Volpe. As previously mentioned, Volpe is the fifth youngest player to debut on Opening Day for the Yankees. Brian Cashman is extremely conservative with his top prospects, typically waiting until later in the season to debut them. Recently, they debuted Gleyber Torres on April 22nd. The Yankees must feel so confident in Volpe to announce him as the Opening Day starting shortstop at 21 years old, and they have every reason to support their feelings. 

After reworking his swing and adding strength during a COVID break, he had a 1.027 OPS with 33 stolen bases in A and A+ in 2021 and 0.802 OPS and 50 stolen bases in AA and AAA in 2022 after. For those concerned about Volpe stealing too much, he was successful on 84 percent of his attempts in the minor leagues. The future is here, and we will be constantly watching him all season.

Player to Watch #3: RP Ron Marinaccio

Ron Marinaccio pitched excellently in his 2022 rookie season. In 44 innings, he had a 2.05 ERA with 56 strikeouts, 24 walks, and two home runs allowed. Although he was sent down to AAA three times and had two injured list stints, he will hopefully remain on the Yankees for the full season this year.

In Spring Training, he continued his dominance only allowing two hits but three walks and striking out twelve in 6.1 innings. He is a three pitch pitcher using his fast ball 44 percent of the time, his changeup 38 percent of the time, and his slider/sweeper 18 percent of the time. His changeup caused hitters to be off balance, leading to a 40% whiff rate. 

Position Group to Watch: Young Shortstops

In addition to Anthony Volpe, two of the other young talents are also shortstops: Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza. Both made their debut last season, resulting in Cabrera losing his prospect eligibility. Although technically a shortstop, Cabrera has turned into a utility man, playing all positions except centerfield, catcher, and pitcher last year. 

In 44 games, Cabrera accumulated 1.5 WAR for a 109 OPS+ and 2 OAA (Outs Above Average). Cabrera made the Opening Day roster as a bench player, and he will likely see the majority of his time in the outfield. 

Peraza, unfortunately, did not make the Opening Day roster. At first, he was projected to be the Opening Day shortstop, but Volpe surpassed him in Spring Training. Because he is still an extremely valuable asset, the Yankees decided to demote him to AAA to get consistent playing time. 

During his September callup, Peraza slashed .306/.404/.429, resulting in a start and a couple defensive replacements in the ALCS. Although he has been praised for his defense, he also hit extremely well in both MLB and the minor leagues last year. If the crowded infield is depleted from either injuries or trades expect Peraza to be the first called up.

2023 Record Prediction: 95-67

While this Yankees team is constructed similarly to last year’s, I do not expect Aaron Judge to repeat his record breaking season. Before the season has started, their starting rotation is banged up even though it might be precautionary. Regardless, the Yankees still should be considered the favorites in the East and American League. 

My predictions for them are slightly worse than last year due to some regression to the mean. Similar to the previous few seasons, the Yankees and their fans will not be content with regular season success, so ultimately, their ability to beat the Astros (who they will likely see AGAIN in the ALCS) and win a championship will determine their success.

Categories: 2023 Season Preview, Articles, Season Analysis

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1 reply

  1. This is going to be a great year for the New York Yankees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last year they got close. This year they are going to win it all. They have a stacked rotation and stacked lineup. They even have the best shortstop for the 2023 season Anthony Volpe. I am a HUGE New York Yankees Baseball Fan!! I have been to games, I have watched games on TV, and I have sent baseball cards to some of the players including Aaron Judge. Which by the way none of them responded back to me and none of them signed a baseball card for me. I even told them that I am a HUGE fan and I have been watching them since I was a little kid. I still watch them. I can’t wait for this season to start!! LET’S GO YANKEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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