2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Is the Yankees’ Offense Really This Average?

by Ryan Kirksey
2022 Fantasy Baseball Yankees

In the latest edition of 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends, it's worth examining an issue that is starting to become a major thorn in the side of Fantasy Baseball managers. Just who is this New York Yankees' offense, and why weren't their bats invited to the start of the 2022 season?

Looking at very early season team stats is often a fool's errand. The Houston Astros are last in their division in runs scored? I'll make a bet against that continuing with anyone who wants the other side. But even three weeks can give us a glimpse into the trends that are developing across Fantasy Baseball.

Once I saw Joey Gallo get dropped in multiple leagues over the weekend in favor of hot FAAB pickups, I knew something was up. And then I saw that the Oakland Athletics had scored 10 more runs than the Yankees this year. Yikes.

This weekly column will look at some of the more intriguing trends over the past week and provide actionable advice on how to handle the data we collected.

For this week's piece, we will examine the New York Yankees' offense through three weeks to see if they have any hope of improving.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Is the Yankees' Offense Really This Average?

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Average Bombers

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There really is nothing wrong with the Yankees' record through 16 games. They are 10-6 and have won three in a row. But for a team that was supposed to be the next coming of Murderer's Row, the fact that they are fourth in their own division in runs scored and tied for 19th in MLB is quite concerning. And when you dig into the numbers, you see that, as a team, they are just....ok at everything.

Here are the Yankees' offensive metrics this year compared to the league average:

RunsAVGOBPSLGwRC+wOBABB%K%Contact%
2022 Yankees58.235.314.380108.3149.2%23.5%74.7%
MLB Average63.5.232.308.368100.3069.0%23.1%75.6%

You can pick apart little things here or there, but these two lines are essentially a carbon copy of each other. Through the first three weeks, the Yankees are perfectly average. That is, however, not at all what they aspire to be. In fact, these issues stem back to last season when the Yankees finished the season 19th in runs scored (711) and had a 101 wRC+ (average is 100). With Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, and Josh Donaldson added Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres, shouldn't we be seeing a lot more.

Two-Thirds of the Lineup is Not Producing

The problem is, too many of these big, high-priced bats aren't coming close to producing near what the Yankees' brass thought they would. Below are the top 10 batters on the Yankees with the most plate appearances, sorted by their wRC+ this season (where 100 is average).

NamewRC+
Anthony Rizzo182
DJ LeMahieu179
Aaron Judge157
Aaron Hicks117
Isiah Kiner-Falefa112
Josh Donaldson101
Gleyber Torres93
Giancarlo Stanton54
Joey Gallo35
Kyle Higashioka-19

Basically, you have three guys who are doing exactly what they are supposed to. Four guys who are slightly above or below average. And then three that are absolutely cratering their team's offense, including your regular number four and No. 6 hitter. Gallo and Stanton are having the worst starts ever to their careers, and they have a combined two home runs and nine RBI between them (and Stanton has two homers and eight of the RBI). A healthy lineup can sustain some of the Hicks and Kiner-Falefa and Torres numbers in the bottom-third of their lineup. But the Yankees are now slotting in batters in a lineup who are hitting at levels magnitudes lower than their average guys.

But now that we know what the problem is, is there hope to fix it?

Statcast Data Looks Good

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The good news for Fantasy managers wanting to know what to do with the Stantons and Gallos of the world, is that there is hope. What you want to see out of your best hitters is that they are making consistent and hard contact on the balls they put in play.

That is not a problem so far for the Yankees this season. as they lead Major League Baseball in hard-hit percentage (48.3%). That is almost three percentage points more than the next closest team (Toronto). They lead the league in total barrels and in barrels per plate appearance. And they are first in average exit velocity. You may, however, think that there are just a couple of outliers skewing those numbers are making them appear better than they really are.

In reality, six of their everyday hitters have a barrel in at least 5% of their plate appearances. That means out of the top 120 batters in the majors this year, six of them are Yankees. Judge, Gallo, Rizzo, and Stanton all rank in the top 40 in barrels per plate appearance. But Stanton and Gallo both have strikeout rates 5% higher than their career averages. If those two guys simply have some positive regression back to what they typically do in their careers, this lineup is going to become much more potent.

I know it's frustrating to hold on to Joey Gallo when he is batting .146 with no homers and one RBI. But for a lefty in Yankee Stadium, he is in too good of a spot to not eventually produce. Keep the faith in these guys.


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