I’ve got a pretty bad cold going right now, so I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. There are a lot of high expectations for new players this year and just as many uncertain expectations for some of the holdovers. I want to set an over/under line for some of the more important players on the roster to gauge what kind of seasons people are expecting from them. Let’s get into it.
CC Sabathia– Over/Under 4.00 ERA
The big fella came in at 4.78 last year, a full run over his career ERA coming into the season. It wasn’t only the first time he’d posted an ERA over 4.00 since 2005, it was the first time he’d posted an ERA over 3.50 since 2005. The hope was that another season removed from elbow surgery would get CC back on the right track, but so far his early ST results have left some to start wringing their hands over his velocity. I’m going to be optimistic here and take the under, just barely. Something like 3.97.
Masahiro Tanaka– Over/Under 3.50 FIP
Because there’s no MLB data to work from, the projections for Tanaka this season are all over the place. I’ve seen everything from 2.50 to close to 4.00 for ERA and almost the same split for his FIP. If his stuff translates to consistent swing-and-miss stuff against MLB hitters, I think 3.50 is the perfect starting point for discussion. He’s not going to walk a lot of batters, but his tendency to work up in the zone with his fastball could lead to a few more home runs, as we’ve already seen in his early spring outings. I’ll go opposite of CC here and take the slight over, 3.53.
Hiroki Kuroda– Over/Under 200 IP
He’s tossed 200+ in each of the last 3 seasons, including a career high 219.2 in 2012. He also faded down the stretch last season, he’s 39 years old, and there are talks about limiting his workload early to try to keep him fresh for the end of the year. If this is going to be his final year in MLB, then there’s no reason for the Yankees to hold back too much. But with a postseason return the goal and Kuroda a key part of making that happen, I think they’ll scale him back to 180-190 in the regular season to try to keep some gas in his tank for the stretch run.
Michael Pineda– Over/Under 20 Starts
He’s looked good in his first 2 appearances, although his pitch count is a tick behind everybody else’s due to the delayed start. Joe has already said his workload is going to monitored and limited this year, and he hasn’t been named the 5th starter yet so he could spend some time in the bullpen. I’m a believer that Pineda will provide more than people are expecting him to this season, restrictions and all, so I’ll take the over at 25 starts.
Mark Teixeira– Over/Under 25 Home Runs
We basically know what to expect from the Beltrans and McCanns and Sorianos in the middle of the lineup. What isn’t as certain is what kind of power production Teix will provide coming off his wrist surgery. If he can be 75-80% of what he was a few years ago, that should be enough from the 6th spot in the batting order. If he can’t, the last few years of his deal start to look really bad. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and take the slight over at 26.
Jacoby Ellsbury– Over/Under 100 Runs Scored
In his 4 healthy seasons, Ellsbury has averaged 100.75 runs scored. That figure is slightly inflated by his monster 2011 season, but it allows for such an even benchmark figure that I’ll look past it. On the one hand, he’s hitting in a park that could increase his power output and give him a few more self-provided runs than he had in Boston. On the other, the lineup hitting behind him isn’t quite as strong as the one in Boston last year when he scored 92. As much as I want to see him go nuts and put up 110-115 again, I’m going to take the under and go with 96.
Brett Gardner– Over/Under 40 Stolen Bases
BG was a beast on the basepaths in 2010 and 2011, swiping 40+ bags in both years. He got away from that some last year with only 24, a disappointing output considering he spent his time at the top of the batting order last year on a team that was offensively challenged. He’s probably heading back to the bottom to start the year this year, where he did his most SB damage in years past, but with his new extension in place the need for him to put up numbers to improve his FA value is no longer there. I say he falls just short and gets 38.
Brian McCann– Over/Under 30 Home Runs
He’s never hit more than 24 in a season, so 30 looks like a big jump to ask for from a catcher with as many miles on his body as McCann has. He’s also never played in a home park that’s as perfectly tailored to his left-handed power swing as YS3 is, and he’s never had the benefit of the DH spot in the lineup to give him more ABs on days when he’s not behind the plate. If McCann is in the lineup for 140-150 games this year, 30 should be very achievable. I think he will be and I think he’ll pass the over and hit 32 dingers when all is said and done.