The Yankees as of right now on paper are relying on guys to have bounce back seasons to help their push for number 28. They have solidified stars who you know will produce in Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Giancarlo Stanton. But you still have a lot of question marks in the lineup when they had the chance to fulfill those spots with bonafide stars this offseason. They had the chance to add guys like Carlos Correa, one of the best all around players in the league, Freddie Freeman coming off an MVP in 2020 and is still one of the hardest outs in the league, and plenty more names but we just don’t have the time. So here today I’ll be giving you 5 guys the Yankees NEED to bounce back for them to be able to have the season they expect to fulfill the prophecy.
- Gleyber Torres
Where did Gleyber go? Where did this talent we thought was gonna give us another 10+ years of straight dominance? Was it the decrease of juiced balls that did it? Was it the pressure of being SS? There could have been so many factors that contributed to his decline but I’m fully confident in the resurgence of Gleyber Torres. Moving back to 2nd Gleyber should shift his focus back to hitting tanks like he used to. People forget just how good Gleyber Torres was in his 1st 2 seasons, 5.6 fWAR, 123 wRC+, 62 HR, .339 OBP, .508 SLG%. Did I mention he’s the youngest Yankees of All Time to reach 2 All Star Games? Yeah he was very very good and at one point untouchable. And hearing his name in trade talks is very weird considering he’s still 25 and is very hungry to be the guy he used to be on the diamond. What do the Yankees need from Gleyber? Well they need him to regroup and just focus on his offense because bad defense at 2nd is expendable, he’ll be in a fight with DJLM at camp for the starting job. Gleyber will be back and that’s a guarantee.
Steamer Projections: .269 BA, 22 HR, 78 RBI, .347 OBP, .448 SLG%, 118 wRC+, 3.5 WAR.
- DJ LeMahieu
Another guy who just had a sudden drop off was All Star 2nd Baseman DJ LeMahieu. Coming into the 2021 season DJ was considered a top 2 2nd baseman arguably the best. In the 2019, 2020 campaign DJLM put up a back to back MVP caliber season which fell just short in the voting. Expectations were high after the Yankees re-signed him to a 6 year/$90 M contract and he fell very short. Statically DJ was just a league average hitter last season with a 100 wRC+ season and a significant drop in Batting Average for you old heads. So what can DJLM do to get back to the glory days of having 155 wRC+ seasons? Well STOP hitting it into the ground, DJ was one of the leagues highest GB hitting players with a 52% GB rate. He also almost led the league in Double Plays created which killed a bunch of rallies and possible wins. DJ still hits the ball pretty hard being in the 74th percentile in Avg Exit Velocity so I think the more simple solution would be just for him to elevate the ball more but hey what do I know I’m not an MLB Player or even a Varsity player. If the Yankees want any chance to make a deep run in October they need the return of one of their best players.
ZiPS Projections: .282 BA, 13 HR, 63 RBI, .344 OBP, .402 SLG%, 107 wRC+, 3.4 WAR
- Aroldis Chapman
It’s safe to say Yankee fans are no longer safe with Aroldis Chapman being the closer. Chapman started off the 2021 campaign on a record pace, Chappy didn’t give up a single run in April and was straight dominant. And he looked more dominant because he added a devastating split finger that went very well with his fastball. And why is that? Well the Split Finger grip looks like a fastball coming out the hand to the hitter and it races to the plate as a fastball and then in a split (no pun intended) second it drops right out of the zone and usually makes every hitter whiff. That devastating split finger had an accumulative 67% Whiff% over 110 pitches. With a minimum of 25 PA, Chapman’s Split Finger ranked 1st in the league in Whiff%, his slider ranks in the top 80 in Whiff% but the real drop off is his fastball which ranked 450TH in the league. Yeah that’s really bad, you saw a slight decrease in velocity and his spin rate went down since the crackdown of Spider Tack. So how can Chapman be feared again? Fix the control, that’s always been his problem. Top 99th percentile in K%, but 1st percentile in Barrel% and BB%, he can no longer just toss in down the pipe with full force when he’s throwing 97-99 mph, it’s no longer gonna work.
ZiPS Projections: 2.98 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 0.8 WAR
- Aaron Hicks
Now it’s not really fair to put Hicks on here when he’s been consistently hurt but the way he was playing early in the 2021 season was straight up unacceptable. Hicks, like Gleyber, was ELITE at one point in the last 3 years. Hicks was one of the best players to get on base, he’s good for around a 15% walk rate if he can stay healthy. Hicks when he’s on is also a very solid hitter and really adds a new dynamic to the lineup if he’s good. You have names like Judge, Stanton, Gallo, and Rizzo in that lineup. The last thing that pitcher wants to handle is a switch hitting on-base freak. All the Yankees need from Hicks is to be an above average defender with insane on-base that’s all I’m asking from him.
FGDC Projections: .228 BA, 19 HR, 68 RBI, .343 OBP, .407 SLG%, 109 wRC+, 2.3 WAR
- Luis Severino
Another guy coming off consecutive seasons of injuries looked good in his 1st Spring Training game consistently pumping 97 mph. His control will ramp up so I’m not concerned about that. Severino before going down in 2019 was the Ace of this ball club and was one of the most promising pitchers in the league. From the span of 2018-2019, Severino racked up 11 fWAR which ranked 5th in that time frame. He ranked above guys like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and now current teammate Gerrit Cole. 11th ranked in ERA, 5th in xFIP, and 9th in K/9, Severino was ELITE and we expect some sort of bounce back of that magnitude.
ZiPS Projections: 3.62 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 9.74 K/9, 2.1 WAR