2021 Fantasy Baseball: New York Yankees Team Outlook - Quiet Offseason Fuels Questions & Concerns

Get the inside scoop! 2021 fantasy baseball player profiles, team analysis and stat projections for New York Yankees hitters and pitchers
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2021 New York Yankees

The Yankees' quest for a 28th World Series title ended as it had eight times over their previous 11 seasons. New York's last world title came in 2009. Gerrit Cole did his part (7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts over 73 innings) in the regular season while also going 2-0 in the postseason with a 2.95 ERA 30 strikeouts over 18.1 innings.

The lack of a second ace cost the Yankees in the playoffs. New York hopes to have Luis Severino back midseason after having TJ surgery last February. The success of the backend of the rotation hinges on the development of Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia.

The bullpen has the same cast of characters, which may end up being a strike in the most important games.

New York has yet to add any new free agents. They expect to be competitive offensively, but the Yankees need Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to stay healthy and play up to expectations.

The only losses to free agency look to be SP J.A. Happ, RP Tommy Kahnle, 2B DJ LeMahieu, and OF Brett Gardner. New York did pick up OF Gary Allen in a minor league deal with the Padres.

The Yankees will be in the hunt for the division title in the AL East. A deep run in the postseason will require a healthy season, plus a stellar season from Cole.

Starting Lineup

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1. OF Aaron Hicks

New York will have a tough time replacing DJ LeMahieu in the leadoff spot in the batting order in 2021. Hicks brings an elite walk rate (19.4), but he tends to underachieve with his contact batting average (.290 in 2020).

Over the past three seasons, Hicks only hit .240 with 159 runs, 45 home runs, 136 RBI, and 16 steals over 870 at-bats. His average hit rate (1.842) gives him 30+ home run upside. In 2020, his HR/FB rate (13.3) came in well below his previous two seasons (19.0 and 19.4).

In his career, his bat hasn’t been an edge against either right-handed (.229 BAA) or left-handed (.248 BAA) pitching.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Hicks only has one season of value on his major league resume (2018). Only a backend outfield option that projects to be a liability in batting average with a chance to offer an edge in runs and power. His ADP (280) paints him as a backend fifth outfielder. 

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2. OF Aaron Judge

Since his impressive 2017 season (.284 with 128 runs, 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and nine steals over 542 at-bats), Judge missed 142 of a possible 384 games. In early March, he suffered a stress fracture to one of his ribs while also dealing with a right shoulder issue. The extra time to get healthy after the Covid shutdown allowed Judge to be ready for opening day on July 23rd.

After 17 games at the start of the year, Judge landed back on the injured list with a calf issue. His season started with nine home runs and 20 RBI over 62 at-bats with a 2.90 batting average. When returning to the starting lineup in mid-September, Judge only had seven hits in 36 at-bats with no home runs and two RBI.

His play over the last three seasons would project to a .274 batting average with 108 runs, 39 home runs, 89 RBI, and six steals over 550 at-bats.

Judge has a massive HR/FB rate over the past four seasons (35.5, 29.0, 35.1, and 32.1) while finding more loft in his swing path in 2020 (40.6 percent fly-ball rate – 38.4 in his career).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: His power foundation is tempting on draft day, but Judge hasn’t helped anyone win a league title since 2017. His 2021 ADP in January is 56 as the 14th outfielder drafted. He has league-leading power with a swing and miss approach (31.4 percent strikeout rate in his career). Only in play for me with no injury news in spring training.

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3. SS Gleyber Torres

After a great season in 2019 at age 22, Torres went down as a bust last year despite showcasing his career's best approach. His walk rate (13.8) was well above his first two seasons in the majors (8.3) while also lowering his strikeout rate (17.5).

Over his first 24 games, he only hit .231 with one home run and six RBI over 78 at-bats. Torres missed a couple of weeks late in August and early September with a hamstring injury. He finished the year with 15 hits in 58 at-bats with two home runs and 10 RBI.

Torres made the jump from upside prospect to elite power bat in 2019. His growth was tied to a spike in his average hit rate (1.934) and a career-high HR/FB rate (21.5). Last year, his power loss was due to a much weaker HR/FB rate (7.1).

In his short career, Torres played well in the postseason (26-for-76 with five home runs, 15 RBI, and four stolen bases), which is a sign of his explosive upside.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: In 2021, his ADP (68) is two full rounds lower than last year. On the verge of being a .290/100/35/100 type player with some underlying speed on his minor league resume. Torres should be a target this season unless his value rises quickly in March.

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4. DH Giancarlo Stanton

Over the last two seasons, Stanton hit .267 over 135 at-bats with seven home runs and 24 RBI while missing 181 games. His lack of health continues to frustrate Yankee fans, and he has been delegated to a DH role going forward.

He came into 2020 in better shape (lost 20 lbs.), but Stanton still missed 37 games due to a hamstring injury. In 2019, he suffered a lost season due to four injuries (left biceps, left shoulder, right, knee, and quad).

His temptation comes from his explosive year in 2017 when Stanton led the National League in home runs (59) and RBI (132). He still takes plenty of walks (11.7 percent in his career ), but Stanton has a high strikeout rate (28.1).

He has a balanced swing path with strength in his HR/FB rate (26.7). This season Stanton can be found at pick 120 in 12-team leagues in January.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: When healthy, a great power source, but his injury risk outweighs his even lower price tag in 2021.

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5. 1B Luke Voit

In about half of his 2019 at-bats (429), Voit set a career-high in home runs (22), which was also the most in the American League. Both his run rate (54) and RBI rate (22) created an edge.

Earlier in his career, Voit showed the ability to take walks (13.1 percent from 2017 to 2019). Last season his walk rate (7.3) fell short of his previous resume, but he did lower his strikeout rate (23.7).

He played well vs. righties (.291 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI over 165 at-bats) while offering his best play at home (.319 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI over 116 at-bats).

Over the last three seasons, he hit .278 with 143 runs, 58 home runs, and 150 RBI over 785 at-bats. Voit set a career-high in his HR/FB rate (34.9) while offering a balanced swing path. His 2020 season ended with a battle with plantar fasciitis.

His success a year ago pushes up his draft value in competitive range with the top first baseman in the league. Voit has an early ADP of 61 with a range of 29 to 92. New York will score plenty of runs, and he should hit in the middle of the batting order.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Not a lock for 550 at-bats, but his path points to 30-plus home runs with over 80 runs and 90 RBI. His high contact batting average (.371 in 2020) offsets some of his downside in his batting average.

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6. C Gary Sanchez

The nonsense of drafting Sanchez as an edge catcher looks to be overdue to a rapid rise in his strikeout rate (36.0 in 2020 and 28.0 in 2019). When making contact, he still has an elite average hit rate (2.478), setting a foundation of 30-plus home runs with 450-plus at-bats. The trick here is making enough contact to keep his bat in the starting lineup.

Over the last three seasons, Sanchez hit only .200 with 62 home runs and 154 RBI over 875 at-bats while whiffing 283 times. He had no value against lefties (3-for-32 with two home runs and six RBI) in 2020 with emptiness as well on the road (.092 over 65 at-bats with three home runs and six RBI). Sanchez also had a sharp decline in his contact batting average (.250) last year.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: This draft season, Sanchez will be the 11th catcher off the boards with an ADP of 193. One trick pony (power) with a fading skill set. His only flicker is his hot start to his NFL career over his first 672 at-bats (.284 with 113 runs, 53 home runs, and 132 RBI). Young enough to bounce back, but I’d rather buy at a discount.

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7. 3B Gio Urshela

After a breakthrough season in 2019, Urshela played well last year, but he failed to repeat his success in power despite only a slight dip in his average hit rate (1.664). His RBI rate (21) shows clutch ability while showing growth in his approach at the plate (14.4 strikeout rate and 10.3 walk rate).

Urshela played well against right-handed pitching (.314 with six home runs and 29 RBI over 121 at-bats), but he struggled to make an impact against lefties (7-for-30 with no home runs and one RBI).

Over six seasons at AAA, Urshela hit .275 with 32 home runs and 190 RBI over 1,474 at-bats.

His swing path has a line drive feel, leading to a lower fly ball rate (32.3 in 2020 and 33.4 in 2019). After setting a career-high in his HR/RB rate (17.5) in 2019, it regressed to 14.3 percent last season.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Urshela had surgery on his right elbow in January to remove bone chips. Only a complementary player with a neutral skillset if he earns 500-plus at-bats. 

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8. OF Clint Frazier

Making contact is the biggest obstacle for Frazier, earning starting at-bats in the majors. Over 589 plate appearances with New York, his strikeout rate is 28.9 percent, with a slight improvement in 2019 (28.5) and 2020 (27.5).

He hit .262 in his four seasons at AAA with 33 home runs, 96 RBI, and 14 steals over 832 at-bats. His walk rate came in at 9.0 over this stretch with a better strikeout rate (22.8).

Frazier gave New York 356 productive at-bats over the last two seasons (.267 with 55 runs, 20 home runs, and 64 RBI) while showing improvement in his HR/FB rate (26.7) in 2020.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: With Brett Gardner no longer on the roster and Giancarlo Stanton locked in at DH, Frazier should have his best opportunity in his career in the majors. I don’t expect 550 at-bats, but he should have enough playing time to produce over 25-plus home runs with serviceable runs and RBI. His batting average will be a liability until he cleans up his strikeouts.

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9. 2B Tyler Wade

Over his last three seasons at AAA, Wade hit .286 with 165 runs, 15 home runs, 96 RBI, and 50 steals over 1,00r4 at-bats. New York gave him playing time in the majors over this span, but he failed to make an impact (.190 with 50 runs, six home runs, 28 RBI, and 13 stolen bases over 306 at-bats).

His walk rate (11.4) was a career-high in 2020 while delivering a below-par strikeout rate (21.4).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: New York should sign another option to start at second base before the start of the season. If they do, Wade will be downgraded to a utility infielder. His only intrigue is speed if given starting at-bats.

OF Mike Tauchman

Before 2019, Tauchman spent four seasons at AAA (.309 with 39 home runs, 228 RBI, and 55 steals over 1,393 at-bats). His bat showed growth in 2017 (.331/16/80/16) and 2018 (.323/20/81/12) at Albuquerque, but the Rockies gave him a minimal opportunity in the majors (.153 over 59 at-bats with two RBI).

After a couple of injuries in New York's outfield, the Yankees gave Tauchman his long-awaited opportunity in the big leagues in 2019. He finished with a productive half-season of playing time (.277 with 46 runs, 13 home runs, 47 RBI, and six stolen bases over 260 at-bats).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Last year he failed to make an impact despite a slight improvement in his approach. Tauchman is only a bench player with a respectable skill set if his season starts well.

Bench Options

Kyle Higashioka (C): His bat has an empty feeling in the majors (.186 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI 194 at-bats), but he did show power at AAA (.246 over 647 at-bats with 89 runs, 37 home runs, and 120 RBI) over five seasons.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: He will compete again for the starting backup catching job for the Yankees. 

Mike Ford (1B): Ford is another player that delivered solid production (.259 with 30 runs, 12 HRs, and 25 RBI over 143 at-bats) off the bench in 2019, but he failed to repeat last year (.135 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 74 at-bats).

He has a good approach at the plate (strikeout rate – 17.8 and walk rate – 9.7) with reasonable success in his minor league career at AAA (.274 with 45 home runs and 133 RBI over 755 at-bats). 

2021 Fantasy Outlook: A late-developing player who starts the year at age 28. With a hot start, Ford may work himself into a platoon role at first base.

New York Yankees Aaron Judge

Pitching Staff

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1. SP Gerrit Cole

In his first season in New York, Cole pitched at a high-level, but he didn’t have the dominating feel of 2019. His struggles came from 14 home runs allowed over 73 innings. Over his first eight starts, he only had a 3.91 ERA.

Cole rounded into form in September (3-1 with 1.00 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 27 innings). He followed up with three strong starts in the postseason (2-0 with a 2.95 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 18.1 innings).

His AFB (97.0) was slightly below 2019 (97.4). All three of his secondary pitches (slider – .133 BAA, curveball – .170 BAA, and changeup – .214 BAA) created an edge. Cole had success with his four-seam fastball (.226 BAA), but he allowed 11 of his 17 home runs off it.

Over the last three seasons, Cole went 42-13 with a 2.71 ERA and 696 strikeouts over 485.2 innings. In 2020, three other pitchers (Shane Bieber, Yu Darvish, and Trevor Bauer) had a high SIscore than Cole.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: This draft season, he’ll be the first pitcher off the board in most leagues. Other than the bump in home runs allowed, Cole looks poised to win 20-plus games with a sub 2.50 ERA and over 275 strikeouts.

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2. SP Luis Severino

Three weeks after signing a four-year, $40 million contract, Severino was scratched from his spring training start in 2019. The first report suggested rotator cuff inflammation then required a cortisone shot. By the end of March, he was long-tossing, giving fantasy owners hope that he would be a value after a massive drop in price point due to his injury.

In early April, New York shut him down with lat strain (second injury). Severino didn’t return to the mound (rehab work) until early August. His first and only appearance in the minors came on September 1st (two runs and three hits over one inning). New York gave him three starts over the second half of the month, which led to a 1.50 ERA and 17 Ks in 12 innings. In the playoff, he allowed two runs and 14 baserunners over 8.1 innings with 10 strikeouts).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Last February, Severino blew out his right elbow that led to TJ surgery. New York hopes to have him back midseason in 2021. Investing in pitchers coming off of major arm injuries doesn’t usually end well for fantasy owners.

At the very least, Severino will be a problematic carry with bench ADP (344) in the early draft season.

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3. SP Domingo German

German picked up the slack for the injury of Luis Severino in 2019. He couldn’t match him in overall stats, but German did win plenty of games (18) with serviceable innings.

Over his first 16 games, he went 12-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 88 innings. Batters hit .231 vs. him over this period with 15 home runs. Three disaster starts (18 runs and 28 baserunners over 13.1 innings) over a nine-game stretch led to 5.73 ERA over 48.2 innings, with much of the damage coming via the home run (15).

German missed the last three weeks of June with a hip issue and the final few of the regular season with a domestic violence incident. Major league baseball suspended him for 81 games in January, which cost him all of 2020.

Both his strikeout rate (9.6) and walk rate (2.5) fell in a range of his minor league resume (29-20 with a 2.69 ERA and 458 strikeouts over 465 innings.

This season German needs to remove the home runs allowed to LH batters (.242 with 20 home runs over 310 at-bats). His AFB (93.6) came in lower than his previous resume (95.0 in 2018). He had success getting batters out with both his changeup (.229 BAA) and curveball (.189 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: His early ADP (308) looks favorable if he builds on his growth over the last couple seasons.

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4. SP Jordan Montgomery

After missing almost all of 2018 and 2019 with injuries, Montgomery turned in 10 starts last year. His ERA (5.11) was out of line, but he showed growth in walk rate (1.8) and strikeout rate (9.6). His WHIP (1.295) suggested Montgomery underachieved.

He allowed three runs or more in half of his starts. Montgomery battled home runs (1.4 per nine) while being easier to hit (.265 BAA).

Over his first four seasons in the minors, he went 25-14 with a 2.57 ERA and 297 strikeouts over 300.2 innings, highlighting his success in 2016 at AA and AAA (14-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 134 strikeouts over 139.1 innings).

Montgomery went 13-10 with a 4.14 ERA and 219 strikeouts over 230.2 innings in New York. The combination of his walk rate (2.8) and strikeout rate (8.5) in the majors point to a sub 3.50 ERA with a run at 175 strikeouts.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Interested, but his price tag seems to be rising based on his early ADP (227).

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5. SP Clarke Schmidt

Schmidt has an upside feel as a starter for the Yankees, but he only has 114 career innings over two seasons in the minors. In 2019, Schmidt went 6-5 with a 3.47 ERA and 102 strikeouts over 90.2 innings.

New York gave him three appearances last year, leading to questions about when he’ll be ready for the majors. His AFB came in at 95.4) while relying on curveball and changeup as his secondary pitches.

At age 25, Schmidt already had TJ surgery, but it’s almost go-time for him to pitch in the majors. His arm projects well, but there will be growing pains and questions with the number of innings he can handle.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Pretty much free until his spring training success drives his potential opportunity.

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SP Deivi Garcia

Over four seasons in the minors, Garcia went 17-20 with a 3.37 ERA and 416 strikeouts over 293.2 innings. Before 2020, he only had 40.0 innings of experience at AAA or higher (5.40 ERA).

When New York needed a starter last season, Garcia handled himself over his first four games (3.28 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 24.2 innings). His arm lost value in his final two starts (10 runs and 17 baserunners over 9.2 innings with nine strikeouts).

His AFB (92.3) came in below the league average while offering a plus changeup. Both his slider (.455 BAA) and curveball (.318 BAA) need time to develop.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Garcia is undersized, and his frame can only handle so much bulk. This season he’ll compete for a starting job in New York while needing more seasoning at AAA. His curveball separates him from the field, and I expect more velocity to emerge from his fastball.

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CL Aroldis Chapman

After testing positive for Covid in early July, Chapman didn’t make his first appearance until August 17th. He struggled in his first two games (three runs and four baserunners over one innings) before settling down over his final 10.2 innings (0.84 ERA and 20 strikeouts).

Unfortunately, Chapman finished with three saves in his five chances.

Chapman has a great arm, but he continues to come up short in innings pitched and saves. He’s never had over 38 saves in any season in the majors while pitching fewer than 60 innings in each of his last four full years.

Batters hit .200 or lower against Chapman every year (.161 BAA over 11 seasons). His AFB (98.2) no longer has triple-digit value while still getting batters out (.125 BAA). He still throws a slider (.231 BAA) as his second-best pitch, followed by a show-me sinker (.143 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: This season he has an ADP of 81 as the fourth closer off the board. Chapman hasn’t struck out more than 100 batters since 2015, but he still helps in ERA, WHIP, and saves. Great arm with questionable command while looking for an impact year in saves.

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RP Zach Britton

Last July, in the high-stakes market, Britton became a fashionable closing bet after Aroldis Chapman picked up a case of Covid. He picked up eight quick saves over the first three weeks of the season while posting a 1.08 ERA and eight strikeouts over 8.1 innings.

Over the last two years with New York, Britton has a 1.90 ERA and 69 strikeouts over 80.1 innings. His walk rate (4.4) over this span does invite some disaster games.

Britton throws a sinker (94.8 MPH) as his top pitch (.198 BAA in 2020) while also featuring a plus curveball (no hits allowed over 66 pitches). Both pitches induce a high number of ground balls.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Viable insurance card with more upside if Britton can throw more strikes.

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RP Chad Green

Over the previous four seasons, Green developed into a top arm in the Yankees’ bullpen. He went 20-10 with a 2.90 ERA and 327 strikeouts over 239.1 innings. His walk rate (2.2) is now elite while adding a higher strikeout rate (12.3).

His one negative is a rising HR/9 rate (1.1 in 2018, 1.3 in 2019, and 1.8 in 2020). Green had a slight step back in his fastball (95.7) in 2020, but batters only hit .133 against it. He made the switch from a slider to curveball (.281 BAA) last season.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Green is getting closer to the ninth inning if he can avoid the long bombs.

2021 New York Yankees

The Yankees' quest for a 28th World Series title ended as it had eight times over their previous 11 seasons. New York's last world title came in 2009. Gerrit Cole did his part (7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts over 73 innings) in the regular season while also going 2-0 in the postseason with a 2.95 ERA 30 strikeouts over 18.1 innings.

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