Over the past two days I’ve reviewed how the Red Sox and the Rays have fared against their preseason CHONE projections. I’ve also handed out some awards. The “Baseball Isn’t Played on Spreadsheets” Award has gone to the player who has outperformed his projection in a significant way. Adrian Beltre earned it for the Red Sox and Evan Longoria earned it for the Rays. The other award is the “He Needs LASIK, a New Workout Regimen, a New Pitch/Stance, and/or To Get Into the Best Shape of His Life” Award and has gone to the player underperforming his CHONE projection. John Lackey received it for the Red Sox and Carlos Pena received it for the Rays. Today, we will look at our beloved Yankees.
C – Francisco Cervelli. Projection: .257/.311/.376, 4 HR, 26 RBI. Performance: .291/.376/.355, 0 HR, 29 RBI.
1B – Mark Teixeira. Projection: .287/.375/.543, 34 HR, 112 RBI. Performance: .224/.343/.390, 10 HR, 38 RBI.
2B – Robinson Cano. Projection: .305/.342/.496, 20 HR, 85 RBI. Performance: .367/.414/.610, 14 HR, 49 RBI.
SS – Derek Jeter. Projection: .302/.373/.434, 14 HR, 70 RBI. Performance: .280/.334/.419, 8 HR, 39 RBI.
3B – Alex Rodriguez. Projection: .282/.383/.548, 34 HR, 106 RBI. Performance: .285/.356/.42, 8 HR, 44 RBI.
LF – Brett Gardner. Projection: .266/.351/.375, 3 HR, 30 RBI (note that CHONE only projected Gardner to have 357 ABs). Performance: .308/.393/.417, 3 HR, 22 RBI in 211 ABs.
CF – Curtis Granderson. Projection: .264/.342/.482, 26 HR, 70 RBI. Performance: .238/.319/.429, 5 HR, 18 RBI.
RF – Nick Swisher. Projection: .242/.362/.459, 27 HR, 79 RBI. Performance: .294/.381/.511, 11 HR, 42 RBI.
DH/Util – Jorge Posada. Projection: .262/.349/.453, 16 HR, 65 RBI. Performance: .291/.403/.552, 9 HR, 24 RBI.
SP 1 – CC Sabathia. Projection: 206 IP, 3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 177 K, 50 BB, 7.73 K/9, 2.18 BB/9.
Performance: 92 IP, 4.00 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, 76 K, 30 BB, 7.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9.
SP 2 – AJ Burnett. Projection: 181 IP, 4.33 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 173 K, 80 BB, 8.60 K/9, 3.98 BB/9.
Performance: 87 IP, 4.33 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 63 K, 33 BB, 6.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9.
SP 3 – Andy Pettitte. Projection: 183 IP, 4.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 131 K, 66 B, 6.44 K/9, 3.25 BB/9.
Performance: 87 IP, 2.47 ERA, 1.111 WHIP, 62 K, 25 BB, 6.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9.
SP 4 – Javier Vazquez. Projection: 196 IP, 3.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 182 K, 50 BB, 8.36 K/9, 2.30 BB/9.
Performance: 70 IP, 5.01 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 62 K, 30 BB, 8.0 K/9, 3.9 BB/9.
SP 5 – Phil Hughes. Projection: 116 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 109 K, 41 BB, 8.46 K/9, 3.18 BB/9.
Performance: 75 IP, 3.11 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, 74 K, 22 BB, 8.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9. Them’s some Cy Young numbers.
Without further ado, the “Baseball Isn’t Played on Spreadsheets” Award goes to…
Robinson Cano! With apologies to Nick Swisher, Cano has blown everyone out of the water this year and is the MVP of the Yankees thus far, with a legitimate claim to the AL MVP award. Cano leads the Major Leagues in Wins Above Replacement, is 4th in the major leagues with a .436 wOBA, and has the second-highest SLG in baseball. Cano has done a fantastic job providing on-base and power skills in a lineup chock full of underperformers. He’s getting some help in the way of BABIP, as expected, but has improved his BB/K ratio and is showing some more power. Generally speaking, the power has come from a higher conversion of fly balls to home runs than he’s gotten in the past. It may not continue at this clip, but a .300/.400/.500 second baseman is still incredibly valuable. It’s going to be a very fun couple of years as Robinson Cano steps into his prime.
The “He Needs LASIK, a New Workout Regimen, a New Pitch/Stance, and/or To Get Into the Best Shape of His Life” Award goes to…
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez! Now, Teixeira has been in a league of his own ineptitude this season. That’s not news to Yankees fans, and I’m not going to detail his failures. I will simply note, by way of reference, the following reasons to expect improvement from Teixiera going forward: 1. Career low BABIP. 2. LD% largely in line with career norms. 3. Career low HR/FB ratio. I know that many authors have noted his troubles with offspeed pitches, and I’m certain that his problem is multifaceted. But it is also good to keep in mind that he appears to be having a lousy time with things entirely out of his control.
Alex Rodriguez is having a bit of a down year as well. His OPS is the lowest it’s been since he broke into the league with the Mariners and he only has 8 home runs. Unlike Teixeira, Rodriguez’s BABIP of .309 doesn’t portend a batted balls correction in the future. In fact, his decrease in OBP appears to be driven by a decrease in his walk percentage, down 6% from 2009 and 2% from his career average. He’s striking out less than he has in the past, which is a positive sign, but does appear to be chasing balls outside the zone more often. The one piece of good news for ARod, if you could call it good news, is that his HR/FB% is 11%, a solid 12% lower than his career average. While we are almost halfway through the year, it’s good to keep in mind that 250-300 ABs is not a large enough sample to draw statistical conclusions. Flukes happen, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see things start to go ARod’s way again.
In sum, Teixeira and Rodriguez’s performances have been causes for concern but no need to panic. The negative impact of their 2010 performance has been mitigated by the career year of Robinson Cano. If the Yankees can get all three of these guys going at the same time, then AL East beware.