Oddsmakers all in on the Yankees – But do their predictions hold up?

New York Yankees captain Aaron Judge
Michael Bennington
Saturday February 10, 2024

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The baseball world hums with excitement as Spring Training nears, and two major projections have fueled the flames: both ZiPS and PECOTA foresee the New York Yankees as the dominant force in the American League East.

ZiPS, relayed by FanGraphs, predicts an 88-win season for the Yankees, translating to a whopping 74.4% chance of reaching the playoffs. PECOTA, via Baseball Prospectus, ups the ante further: 94.4 wins and a staggering 90.6% likelihood of postseason play. This puts the Yankees in the top four World Series contenders alongside powerhouses like the Dodgers, Braves, and Astros.

Yankees surprisingly projected as contenders – For real?

But before confetti rains down in the Bronx, perspective is the key. These are models, educated guesses, not crystal balls. While ZiPS and PECOTA hold respected positions in the baseball community, they differ from gut calls by executives or seasoned scouts’ eyes-on experiences.

Interestingly, these projections seemingly undervalue the Baltimore Orioles. After their surprising 101-win run in 2023, both project a significant regression, placing them second or third in the division with 85-87 wins. However, the narrative around the Orioles seems to diverge. Despite a quiet offseason, acquiring ace Corbin Burnes and the impending debut of top prospect Jackson Holliday paint a picture of potential repeat success.

The Yankees, on the other hand, haven’t been sitting idle. Despite missing out on the coveted Yoshinobu Yamamoto and concerns about the rotation’s health, they’ve bolstered their roster.

So, what does this all mean? The projections favor the Yankees, but Spring Training and the season itself will reveal the true story. Can the Orioles defy expectations? Will the Yankees’ improvements translate to dominance? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: the AL East promises to be a thrilling race to watch.

Yankees gamble on a mix of veterans and young guns

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo of the New York Yankees

General Manager Brian Cashman swung for the fences this offseason, transforming the Yankees’ outfield with the acquisitions of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham. He also bolstered the bullpen through crafty trades with the Dodgers. The signing of Marcus Stroman, a bargain compared to the elusive Yamamoto, was another shrewd move.

However, beneath the fanfare lies a gamble. The Yankees are doubling down on veteran talent that struggled with injuries last season – players like DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton. Their decline could be a looming specter.

The pressure is on young guns too. Their development and performance will be critical, especially considering the lack of depth, particularly if Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole‘s injury history repeats. Who will step up when injuries hit?

Every team has question marks before Spring Training, but for the Yankees, the path to success seems narrower. All cylinders need to fire for them to compete for a division title, let alone a championship. The Bronx Bombers might be stacked, but this season could be either a thrilling comeback or a gamble gone wrong.

Can the Yankees fly high or fall flat?

My crystal ball predicts the Yankees will land second in the AL East, chasing the surprising Orioles. Imagine a 90-win season, finishing roughly 5-6 games behind the division leaders. They’ll likely snag a Wild Card spot, but the road to October glory might be through the one-game gauntlet.

But before we crown the Orioles, let’s revisit last year’s prophecy. FanGraphs anointed the Yankees as division champs, while Baltimore languished in last-place projections with a measly 75.7 wins. Remember, these forecasts are educated guesses, not guarantees. Injuries, unexpected slumps, and breakout talents can rewrite the script.

So, what about the Yankees’ offseason? Cashman’s moves were bold, but concerns linger. Can veterans like LeMahieu and Rizzo stave off decline? Will the young guns rise to the occasion? Depth remains a question mark, especially if Judge and Cole face injury woes.

The Yankees have the talent to contend, but the path is narrow. Everything needs to click for them to dethrone the Orioles, who themselves defied expectations last season. This season in the AL East promises to be a thrilling tightrope walk, and the Yankees will be right in the thick of it. Buckle up, baseball fans – the Bronx is buzzing with anticipation, and the race for the division crown is wide open.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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