Even though the real Pecota Day isn’t until February 16, Baseball Prospectus has jumped the gun and released the latest round of its player projections. With the caveat that even the most sophisticated projection systems are rough estimates at best, following is a quick break down of what BP thinks about the 2013 Yankees.
Not surprisingly, PECOTA predicts Robinson Cano will lead the Bronx Bombers’ offense in 2013, but with numbers well below his three-year average. In fact, with an estimated WARP (wins above replacement player) below 5, Cano falls under the approximate threshold for what BP informally considers “great”, leaving the Yankees without an elite performer in the upcoming season. After the All Star second baseman, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Brett Gardner check in with WARPs of 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, and 2.9, respectively. No one else registers an above-average reading, including Derek Jeter, whom PECOTA predicts will produce a WARP of 1.3, or half of last season’s output.
C.C. Sabathia will again be the Yankees’ ace, according to PECOTA, which projects the big lefty with a 17-10 record and 3.20 ERA in over 220 innings, good for a WARP of 5.0. However, BP’s prognostications don’t think as highly of the rest of the starting rotation. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, and Ivan Nova/Michael Pineda round out the staff with WARPs ranging from 1.5 to 2.3, suggesting relative mediocrity following Sabathia’s lead.
Amongst the relievers, PECOTA expects a bounce back year for Mariano Rivera (not even an objective system would be foolish enough to bet against Mariano Rivera) as well as strong contributions from David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain. This bullpen triumvirate is projected to pitch 168 innings combined with a cumulative WARP of 3.8. Aside from that trio, PECOTA predicts rookie Mike Montgomery will be the team’s most valuable reliever, with veterans Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and David Aardsma chipping in as well.
If you add up the wins and losses that PECOTA forecasts for each pitcher, the Yankees’ record would be 92-69 (the other game a victim of rounding, or maybe a rain out). Although not exactly a dire prediction, in the American League, 92 wins doesn’t guarantee participation in the postseason. Of course, you don’t need a sophisticated projection system to tell you the Bronx Bombers’ margin for error will be much smaller in 2013. In fact, based on the gloomy tone of the off season, more than a few Yankee fans would probably sign up for 92 wins and take their chances. Who knows, maybe Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman would too?