2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: New York Yankees

by Jordan McDonald
2021 Dynasty Baseball Player of the Week: Gleyber Torres

Welcome to another edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive featuring the New York Yankees!

The Yankees were the odds-on favorite to win the American League pennant before this season started. And now, they currently find themselves near the basement of the AL East, a division they have only won once in the last eight seasons.

We aren't even a quarter way through the season but the Yankees have dug themselves a hole early. Plus, they don't play their archrival Boston Red Sox until June, which could pose more trouble based on the trajectories of both teams.

Can the Yankees recover from this slump? Or could this be a permanent sign of things to come? Let's examine some of the key fantasy contributors on the team.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: New York Yankees

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Aaron Judge

The supposed best hitter on the Yankees is currently hitting .263/.385/.500 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. Judge will always be remembered for that ridiculous rookie season with 52 home runs and power metrics that defied reality. But his reputation precedes him, as he hasn't eclipsed 27 home runs in a season since then. However, it is worth noting that Judge has missed almost 40 percent of games since 2018.

For this season, a lack of power is not the issue for Judge. He sits in the 90th percentile or higher for every applicable category and his expected batting average (xBA) is currently .350. And because of this power, teams are careful throwing to him, leading to a walk rate that usually ranks near the top of the league. In addition, he has improved his strikeout rate to 25.3 percent, which is much lower than his career average of 31.1 percent.

Therefore, it seems that Judge has mostly been a victim of bad luck and the offensive struggles from the rest of the lineup aren't helping his cause. The advanced statistics suggest he will improve as the season progresses, just as long as he can remain healthy for a team that desperately needs him to produce.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton has had one of the most interesting careers in MLB history. The power is immaculate and he still leads the league in exit velocity and Hard Hit percentage during a time when players are hitting the ball harder than ever. Although, a slash line of .229/.289/.470 is all he has been able to muster.

If you thought Judge's availability was suspect, Stanton has missed more than 80 percent of total games over the previous two seasons. Therefore, the Yankees have decided to make him the permanent designated hitter for this season to preserve his health. But that still doesn't prevent the team from putting him in the lineup every day.

His fantasy value will always be supported by the power that he possesses. But he also comes with a bloated strikeout rate that may turn people away with the boom-or-bust approach at the plate. He may have to work on making better contact on pitches in order to shed the label of a one-dimensional hitter.

Gary Sanchez

Sanchez has shown a frightening downward trend since the beginning of the 2020 season. Last year, he only managed a .147 batting average with a .618 OPS, and has followed that up with .182 and .617 for this season respectively. Fantasy managers looked past the anemic shortened season and drafted him seventh among catchers according to FantasyPros. And they must be hoping for a rebound since his ownership rating is still hovering around 80 percent.

He has seen a slight decline in power this season, but his real issue is the lack of contact. His Sweet Spot Percentage is currently under 30 percent, which has occurred three times over the past four seasons. The power will not be effective if he doesn't pair it with quality contact. And losing starts to Kyle Higashioka will not help either, considering Giancarlo Stanton has claimed primary designated hitter status.

If Sanchez is burning a hole in your lineup every week, you may want to consider streaming the position instead.

Gleyber Torres

The managers who drafted Torres this season must be agonizing over how to proceed with him. His shortened 2020 season was considered average with a .243 batting average and .742 OPS, and he is continuing the downward trend into this season.

His slugging percentage is .279 and his exit velocity is currently ranked in the bottom eight percent of the league. The alarming dip in power shouldn't be sustainable, but his career metrics suggest there isn't much room for improvement. He has never finished a season with an average exit velocity over 90 MPH or a Hard Hit rate of 40 percent. Truthers may point to the 38 home runs in 2019, but that amount will certainly be out of reach with the lack of power being displayed.

It's unfair to say his best season was an anomaly, however, his expected batting average and slugging were significantly lower than the actual numbers. For his career, he has never exceeded an xBA of .255 or an xSLG of .500. Unless we see a miraculous power surge, he will be considered a middling option among fantasy shortstops.

If you are a disgruntled Torres owner, you may want to see what you can get in return for him. Otherwise, your fantasy team could be a victim of his shortcomings while he attempts to overcome this slump.

D.J. LeMahieu

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I figured that I should add a section for LeMahieu considering he isn't playing up to his standards. The 2020 batting champion is only hitting .270 for the season compared to the astonishing .364 that he posted last season. Despite the slow start, anyone who rosters him should be patient and avoid cutting bait on him too early.

LeMahieu has shown to be an exceptional contact hitter, but his power numbers are actually underrated as well. His career average exit velocity is over 90 MPH and he has only posted one full season with an EV under that threshold. And excluding this year, he has recorded a Hard Hit rate of 40 percent or higher in every season during the Statcast era.

It appears inevitable that LeMahieu will come around with the bat. In the meantime, you could take advantage of his slump and see if somebody will part with him for a fraction of his actual cost.

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers

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1 comment

2021 Fantasy Baseball Statcast Deep Dive: New York Mets - Fantasy Six Pack May 6, 2021 - 10:31 am

[…] week, we covered the New York Yankees and their early-season hitting woes. And now, we head across town to Queens and examine the issues at the plate for the […]


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