2020 Fantasy Baseball: New York Yankees Team Preview

Fantasy baseball player profiles and stat projections for New York Yankees hitters and pitchers. What to expect from Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and more.
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New York Yankees

The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, which is a significant slump considering the team's dynamic history in baseball. New York has 27 titles, 40 AL pennants, and 55 playoff appearances since 1921. They won 100 or more games in 2018 and 2019, with 22 trips to the postseason over the past 26 years.

Their improvement last year came on offense (1st in runs – 943, 2nd in home runs – 306, and 2nd in RBIs – 904). Before the season started, the Yankees lost their top pitcher (Luis Severino) for most of the year, which was the main reason they slipped to 14th in ERA (4.31). New York tied for the league's most converted saves (50).

Being an ace away from a potential trip to the World Series, the Yankees placed their bet on the rising arm of Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year deal. Their big loss in the offseason was an 81-game suspension for SP Domingo German due to a domestic incident.

In 2019, New York played much of the year without their top two sluggers (Aaron Judge – 62 missed games and Giancarlo Stanton – 144 missed games).

The Yankees are the favorite to win the American League this season thanks to a pair of aces, an excellent power-hitting offense, and strength in their bullpen.

Starting Lineup

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1. 2B D.J. LeMahieu

LeMahieu was an easy player to overlook in 2019, with New York having three options available to play 2B and SS. He hit the ground running over the first 12 games in April (.439 with nine runs and seven RBI over 41 at-bats), setting up the greatest season of his nine-year career. LeMahieu blossomed into an edge in four categories. He finished with the most runs (109), HRs (26), and RBI (102) in his career, with a stud RBI rate (23). His average hit rate (1.584) is now an area where 20 HRs could be expected going forward. 

LeMahieu had the second-most hits of 95 MPH or more while ranking 32nd in hard-hit rate (47.2). He’s tough to strike out (K rate – 13.7) with a below-par walk rate (7.0). Even with a spike in power, his ground ball rate (50.1) is too high, which was offset by a massive jump in his HR/FB rate (19.3). LeMahieu was a beast vs. lefties (.375 with ten HRs and 31 RBI over 160 at-bats) and at home (.338 with 19 HRs and 54 RBI over 284 at-bats). For me, he was the most crucial bat for New York last season (.400 with 44 runs, four HRs and 36 RBI over 75 at-bats in high leverage situations). A top-of-the-order bat in one of the highest-scoring offenses in baseball. With an ADP of 64, LeMahieu could work for the right team structure while expecting a .300/100/20/75 type season.

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2. OF Aaron Judge

There may not be a player in baseball that can match Judge’s power or ability to hit the ball hard (hard-hit rate – 57.1 in 2019) when he makes contact (CTBA - .461, .441, and .435 over the past three years). His average hit rate (1.981) remains elite. His risk comes with a massive K rate (31.5), along with questions with his RBI rate (11.2 in 2019 and 13.9 in his career). Judge takes plenty of walks (14.3 percent) to help his value in runs. He crushed left-handed pitching (.343 with eight HRs and 19 RBI over 99 at-bats). His HR/FB rate (35.1) screams league-leading power, which would be helped by more loft in his swing (fly-ball rate – 32.4 in 2019 and 43.2 in his 50-HR season in 2017. 

Last year he lost two months of the year with an oblique injury. Judge didn’t hit his strike in 2019 until August 15th (.301 with 15 HRs and 23 RBI over his final 133 at-bats). Over two years with missed games, he does have some injury risk while being fully priced on draft day (ADP – 28). With 500-plus at-bats, a fantasy owner can expect a neutral batting average with a 110/50/110/5 skill set. His next step is improving his RBI rate and ability to make contact.

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3. SS Gleyber Torres

Torres made the jump from upside prospect to elite power bat in 2019. His average hit rate (1.934) made massive strides since 2015 (AVH – 1.307). He played well over the first three months of the year (.295 with 19 HRs and 47 RBI over 281 at-bats), but Torres lost his home runs in July (one HR over 88 at-bats). His correction power came in August (.277 with 13 HRs and 21 RBI over 101 at-bats). His approach finished around the league average (strikeout rate – 21.4 and walk rate – 8.0). Torres repeated his fly-ball rate (41.9) with further growth in his HR/FB rate (21.5). There’s a lot to like here while owning more underlying speed in the minors (61 Ks over 1,407 at-bats). His next step points to 200 combined runs and RBI depending where Torres hits in the batting order with 35-plus HRs. His batting average should move closer to .300.

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4. OF Giancarlo Stanton

2019 was a lost season for Stanton due to four injuries (left biceps, left shoulder, right knee, and quad). In 2018, Stanton set a career-high in at-bats (617) and plate appearances (705) while turning in his second straight, healthy season. Even with more playing time, Giancarlo fell short in just about area to his excellent 2017 season (.281 with 123 runs, 59 HRs, 123 RBI, and two SBs). His step back in success had a direct correlation with his failure in strikeout rate (29.9), which almost matched 2015 (29.9) and 2016 (29.8). 

Stanton also lost some value in his walk rate (10.4 – 13.2 in 2017 and 11.4 in his career). His swing played well vs. LH pitching (.316 with 13 HRs and 28 RBI over 152 at-bats) while showing more risk against righties (.249 with 25 HRs and 72 HRs over 465 at-bats). His fly-ball rate (36.5) declined for the third straight year while still producing a high HR/FB rate (25.0 – 26.7 in his career). The shift to more at-bats at DH does help his ability to stay healthy. His ADP slipped to 55 in 15-team leagues in early January in 2020. High-risk, high-reward player who is 3-for-6 in healthy seasons over the previous six years.

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5. C Gary Sanchez

Over the first three months of 2019, Sanchez rewarded fantasy owners with 38 runs, 23 HRs, and 54 RBI over 238 at-bats while hitting .261. His success was an edge at the catching position, but he turned into a hot mess in July (.102 with one HR and four RBI over 59 at-bats with 20 Ks). After missing three weeks with a groin issue, Sanchez returned to his early-season form (.261 with eight HRs and 13 RBI over 69 at-bats). He missed two-thirds of September with a second groin injury, leading to another down month (.200 with two HRs and six RBI over 30 at-bats). 

In the end, his strikeout rate (28.0) faded for the second straight year while continuing to have a slight advantage in his walk rate (9.0). He struggled with lefties (.200 with seven HRs and 14 RBI over 95 at-bats) and on the road (.194 with 15 HRs and 43 RBI) in batting average. His defense remains a problem (15 errors, seven bass balls, and 30 wild pitches), which was a problem as well in 2017 (13/16/53) and 2018 (6/18/45). Sanchez added more loft to his swing (fly-ball rate – 47.6 – 40.7 in his career) while setting a career-high in his HR/FB rate (26.4). Fantasy owners priced him as the second rank catcher in the early draft season in the high-stakes market in January, but they are only willing to pay their 86th draft pick. 

Overall, his quest for more power creates more swings and misses plus many easy outs via fly balls. His AVH (2.261) screams 40-plus home runs with 440 at-bats, but he has downside in missed time and batting average without a rebound in his thought process and/or his approach at the plate. New York would love to get him more time at DH. 

To view the full starting lineup, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 New York Yankees Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Gerrit Cole

After a career season in 2018 (15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 276 Ks over 200.1 innings), Cole pushed his game even higher last season. He led the American League in ERA (2.50), strikeouts (326), and Ks/9 (13.8). His only negative came from 29 HRs allowed (1.2 per nine) while setting a career-best in wins (20). Cole dominated both RH (.198 BAA) and LH (.175 BAA) batters. Over the first two months of the year, he went 5-5 with a 4.04 ERA and 112 Ks over 71.2. 

His failure came from 12 HRs allowed over this span. Over his final 21 starts, Cole allowed two runs or less in 19 starts leading to a 1.73 ERA and 214 Ks over 140.2 innings. He struck out ten or more batters in each of his last nine starts in the regular season while going 15-0 after June 13th. In the playoffs, Cole threw another 36.2 innings (1.72 ERA and 47 Ks). His AFB (97.4) was a career-best with batters hitting only .175 against it. He had strength in his slider (.179 BAA) and curveball (.199 BAA) plus a show-me changeup (.234 BAA). 

Workhorse type who continues to be tougher to hit. A move to the AL East should lead to some regression in his ERA, but Cole will still be the top pitcher drafted in 2020. A high scoring offense and good bullpen should lead to 20-plus wins with a top ERA and another run at 300 Ks. 

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SP2 Luis Severino

Three weeks after signing a four-year $40 contract, Severino was scratched from his start in spring training. The first report suggested rotator cuff inflammation that 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 first (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 ten Ks). His AFB (96.0) was two mph lower than 2018. Both his four-seam fastball (1.80 BAA) and slider (.182 BAA) were tough to hit.

Before the All-Star break in 2018, Luis was one of the best pitchers in baseball (14-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 144 Ks over 128.1 innings). Over his next nine starts, he went 3-5 with a 6.95 ERA and 58 Ks over 45.1 innings while serving up nine home runs. Severino set a career-high in wins (19) with more improvement in his walk rate (2.2). His K rate (10.3) finished just below his breakout 2017 season (10.7). Batters hit .238 against him compared to .208 in 2017 with his best value coming vs. righties (.227 BAA). His AFB (98.0) remained elite, but batters hit .272 against it (.247 in 2017). His best pitch remains a slider (.191 BAA) while his changeup (.270 BAA) fell short of expectations (.171 BAA in 2017).

This season Severino has an ADP of 60 as the 18th pitcher drafted. There is no doubt that he has ace upside with an expected edge in four pitching categories (wins, ERA, WHIP, and Ks). In 2018, Severino was a top ten starting pitcher. His spring training will determine his ultimate fantasy value. For now, treat him as an edge as a SP2 if possible with 15 wins, a 3.00 ERA, and 225 Ks.

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CL/RP Aroldis Chapman

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 the last four years. Chapman had a rebound in his walk rate (3.9 – 5.3 in 2018) while also losing some momentum in his strikeout rate (13.4 – 16.3 in 2018). 

Over the last two seasons, New York won 203 games, but he picked up only 69 saves due to many games being blowouts. Batters hit .200 or lower against Chapman every year in his career (.161 BAA over ten seasons). He pitched well every month except July (eight runs and 20 baserunners over 8.2 innings with 12 Ks) when he issued 11 of his 25 walks. Batters had a massive line drive rate (28.1 percent) against Chapman in 2019. His AFB (98.3) no longer has triple-digit value while still getting hitters out (.220 BAA). He still throws a slider (.149 BAA) as his second-best pitch, followed by a show-me sinker (.121 BAA). 

This season he has an ADP of 88 as the third closer off the board. In 2019, his stats ranked 27th in SIscore rankings. Chapman has fewer than 100 Ks in each of his last four seasons, but he still helps in ERA, WHIP, and saves. Great arm with questionable command while still looking for an impact year in saves.

To view the full pitching staff, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 New York Yankees Team Outlook

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