Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: New York Yankees
Projected Starting Lineup
C: Gary Sanchez--$23. That was how much Gary Sanchez went for in the AL LABR auction draft last weekend. Fantasy owners are in love with Sanchez’s power and they are drafting him early and paying premiums for him at auctions. But where is the value? Sanchez will have to hit 30 HR and knock in 90 RBIs to be worth his lofty price tag.
1B: Greg Bird—The Bird is the word. Well, at least it is the word to savvy Fantasy owners who realize that Greg Bird will be the Yankees starting 1B. Bird missed the entire 2016 season with a bad shoulder but is fully recovered and should be hitting in the middle of the Yankees lineup this season. He had 11 HR in 157 at bats back in 2015. With 450 at bats this season, 20-25 HR should be doable for him. NOTE: The Yankees signed Cris Carter to be their 1B vs. LHP and as occasional DH when Holliday needs to sit. I still like Bird as a sleeper, but Carter’s presence might steal away some at bats if Bird runs into a cold spell early in the season.
2B: Starlin Castro—The Cubs cleared out Castro to make room for Addison Russell and that worked out just fine for the Yankees in 2016. Castro is only 26 and he seems primed to have a career year. I like him in the mid-rounds of most drafts and I think you can get him at a big discount this season.
SS: Didi Gregorius—Didi is one of my big time AL offensive sleepers. He stepped up last year to the tune of 20 HR and showed that he could steal a base or two when needed. The key to his season is whether or not Joe Girardi will bat him 2nd in the order. If he does, he could really score a bunch of runs and will get tons of fastballs to hit. Watch him closely this spring.
3B: Chase Headley—Drafting Chase Headley is like eating a candy bar—all you get are empty calories and empty stats. Headley will hit .250 or so with 10-15 HR and 50 RBIs. He is the type of guy that you can find on your league’s waiver wire throughout the season.
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury—I would think that in the history of bad free agent signings, Ellsbury would be close to the top of the list. He signed a $153 million dollar deal with the Yankees and since he has been with the team he has been a major disappointment. 50 stolen bases are a thing of the past for him (think 20) and double digit HR seems a reach. He is not even hitting close to .300. I guess I would take him as my 5th OF but earlier than that doesn’t make sense.
OF: Brett Gardner—Gardner has become a very steady presence in the Yankees batting order. He makes good contact, knows how to get on base, and can provide sneaky power when needed. Right now Gardner’s fantasy value has dropped due to his tailing off in the speed department. Fantasy owners are used to 40+ bags from Gardner and for the past three years he has been at 21 or less. He has said that he wants to run more this year, but I think that is more spring chatter than anything.
OF: Aaron Judge—Judge is like the Yankees version of Dave Kingman. When he connects, he can hit the ball a country mile. The question is how many times will he connect all season? The Yankees want to be patient with Judge, but at the same time they can’t withstand him striking out all the time to go along with his subpar defense in the field. Watch Aaron Hicks closely. If Hicks can get off to a hot start at the plate, he can steal a few at bats from Judge. Hicks is one of the top defensive players in the AL and is a terrific fourth OF for the Yankees and a sneaky reserve pick in deeper leagues.
DH: Matt Holliday—Holliday is 37 years old and certainly in the descent of his career. Holliday has spent his entire career in the NL so coming to the AL at this point seems to be a bit risky for his offensive production. When pitchers and hitters meet for the first time I generally give the advantage to the pitcher. This does not bode well for Holliday and I can’t imagine rostering him on any of my teams.
SP: Masahiro Tanaka—I marvel at the fact that Tanaka is pitching with a partially torn UCL and could be a candidate for Tommy John surgery at any given point during the season. That said, he still pitched well in 2016, improving significantly on his 2015 numbers. Drafting Tanaka is all about risk tolerance. I have no problems taking my chances with him as my SP3 if I have two guys in front of him who can carry me in case he gets shut down. By waiting on pitching and making him my top starter, I am opening myself up to a possibly disastrous season that could end with me scrambling to make a deal to rectify my pitching.
SP: Michael Pineda—On the one hand, Pineda struck out 207 batters last year in only 175 IP which showed that his swing and miss rate is extremely high. On the other hand, he let up 27 home runs and his walk rate doubled. Simply put, I just don’t trust Pineda in seasonal leagues. I would absolutely roster him in DFS on the nights where I like his matchup, but in seasonal leagues I worry that a bad couple of weeks could set me back in ERA and WHIP into a Fantasy tailspin.
SP: C.C. Sabathia—Sabathia bounced back last year and he had a respectable season for the Bronx Bombers, but at 36 years old one has to question whether he can do it again. Sabathia has thrown for over 3000 innings in his career and is capable of throwing awful games that can kill your team’s ERA.
SP: Chad Green—Green had incredible numbers in Triple-A last year, but was not nearly as effective in the majors. I will keep my eye on him considering the fact that his numbers were so good in Scranton, but I see him as nothing more than a free agent add early in the season.
SP: Luis Severino—Severino is another post-hype sleeper who most Fantasy owners will avoid drafting because of last year’s disastrous season. Severino worked with Pedro Martinez in the off-season and looks to be much improved this spring. Take him in the late rounds of your draft—you will be happy you did.
RP: Dellin Betances—I just love Betances. He is my kind of reliever. By rostering him, I get a few wins, a smattering of saves, and a ton of Ks. In leagues that use holds, he must be close to the top of the list of setup men available.
Closer: Aroldis Chapman—The Yankees rented out Chapman to the Cubs last year for the Cubs’ playoff push and then resigned Chapman in the off-season to a five year deal. He is the closer without question in the Bronx and should once again dominate with over 100Ks. His ERA and WHIP are microscopic and he is without a doubt one of the top closers in baseball.