2022 Yankees ZiPS projections expect Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge to anchor team once again

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  • New York Yankees
    New York Yankees
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  • Gerrit Cole
    Gerrit Cole
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  • Aaron Judge
    Aaron Judge
    American baseball player
Aaron Judge hypes up crowd after walk off to clinch playoffs
Aaron Judge hypes up crowd after walk off to clinch playoffs

As is custom when the new year rolls around, FanGraphs released their ZiPS projections, created by Dan Szymborski, which uses "growth and decline curves based on player type to find trends. it then factors those trends into the past performance of those players to come up with projections."

For the Yankees, an expected postseason contender yet again, the projections aren't going to say they should be the World Series favorites. But there's no doubt there is still some powerful talent on the roster.

Starting with the two best based on WAR projections, Gerrit Cole (5.3) and Aaron Judge (5.2) are expected to be the anchors once again. But what else is new, right?

Cole had a bad end to what was a great season statistically for him. A hamstring injury didn't help matters, but nevertheless, we're talking about one of the best pitchers in the game with the Yanks in his third season in the Bronx.

Cole is projected to finish with a 2.82 ERA and 2.78 FIP with 248 strikeouts over 182 innings pitched. Those are Cy Young-type numbers, and that's certainly what is expected of him each season.

As for Judge, ZiPS gave him a slash line of .276/.369/.538 with 36 homers and 95 RBI. Also, they believe Judge will strike out 153 times, which isn't too bad when you consider others on the team.

We're talking about Joey Gallo here, and Yankee fans will understand why he is expected to strike out 200 times this season. That's the name of his game -- launch a ball to the moon or head back to the dugout after three strikes. But his on-base percentage is still projected at .352, with him drawing 93 walks. He's also got the second-highest WAR among position players at 3.7.

Here are some other projections for important position players:

- Giancarlo Stanton: .255/.338/.491, 30 HR, 91 RBI, 2.5 WAR
- DJ LeMahieu: .282/.344/.402, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 3.1 WAR
- Gleyber Torres: .260/.332/.426, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 2.2 WAR
- Gary Sanchez: .208/.304/.432, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 1.0 WAR

Sep 28, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) heads for home on his three run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning at Rogers Centre.
Sep 28, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) heads for home on his three run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning at Rogers Centre.

Looking deeper at the starting rotation, ZiPS is weary.

"Gerrit Cole remains Gerrit Cole, but there are some real concerns once you start thinking about who starts the other 130 or so games," Szymborski wrote.

Jordan Montgomery anchors the back end and ZiPS has a WAR projection of 2.5 -- the best after Cole. Luis Severino, though, gets a 2.0 WAR despite only pitching a few innings last season after coming back from Tommy John surgery. Szymborski said the numbers were generous for Severino, so proceed with caution. Yankee fans would love to see a 3.62 ERA with 105 strikeouts over 97 innings (this makes sense given it's his first full season back plus injury history from the past).

And no, we didn't forget about Jameson Taillon, who is coming off ankle surgery and rehabbing as we speak. ZiPS has him tossing a 4.24 ERA over 131.7 innings with a 1.8 WAR.

These are solid numbers, but just as Szymborski said, there are many questions about the rotation, which is why the Yanks might do well finding someone via free agency once the lockout ends.

And last but definitely not least, the bullpen.

Jonathan Loaisiga gets the nod with the highest WAR among the group at 1.5. He was fantastic for the Yanks in 2021, and could be a closer candidate if Aroldis Chapman doesn't figure out his command issues this season. Chapman still has a 1.2 WAR and a 2.98 ERA expected.

The usual suspects -- Chad Green, Domingo German, Nestor Cortes Jr., etc. -- are all solid as well. But ZiPS projects Luis Gil to be a contributor with a 1.2 WAR this season. Where that will be, rotation or bullpen, is up in the air as of now. It could very well be both depending on injuries and other happenings throughout the year.

Overall, the Yankees do have their question marks, but ZiPS still projects most of their stars will be just that this season. Will it be consistent production, and more importantly, will it result in a playoff berth?

That's why these are just projections -- only time will tell.