Every year before the season starts, I make my predictions on what the New York Yankees season might look like, who will star, and who will bomb. Last year I bombed out several times but still had a 50% winning percentage. This year’s predictions were made on March 30, 2021, when things looked risky but pretty rosy for the upcoming season. But, of course, things have changed a lot since then, so let’s examine whether I stared or bombed.
1. Gerrit Cole will not perform as expected!
This year after his average spring training performance, I predicted he would go 15-6 with at least 24 home runs given up. He will also leave several games early. I hit this one -pretty much on the nose; Cole hasn’t come close to his 2019 performance with the Astros. Hed ended the season 16-8 with an ERA of 3.23. In 2019 he was 20-5 ERA 2.50. That’s quite a drop-off, particularly in ERA. I hit the nail on the head with my home run prediction; he gave up precisely 24. Projection grade A.
2. DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!
Last year LeMahieu was the New York Yankees MVP and was all of baseball’s batting champ, hitting .364. At the beginning of the season, I suggested that DJ would not come close to those lofty numbers. He will start the season slowly and only marginally improve after the All-Star break. He has definitely not performed like he did last year, with a batting average of about .100 less. Projection grade A.
3. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!
Clint Frazier hit .267 last year, and his defense improved so much he was nominated for a Gold Glove Award. This season I predicted the same, except that he will have a better batting average and would play his first entire season with the Yankees.Â Oh boy, I made an absolute mess of this one. First, Frazier was not as good in the outfield and has bombed at the plate. His batting average is .186, with only five home runs. Then midway through the season, he came down with some ailment that still hasn’t been fully explained. Dizziness and eye focus problems kept him off the field. Projection grade F.
4. Aaron Judge will have an injury-free season
Last year I predicted that Aaron Judge would have an injury-shortened season, and I was correct; he played in only 28 games while nursing injuries. This year in what will probably prove to be my most foolish prediction, I am saying he will play in at least 135 games and stay healthy for most of the season, hitting over 35 home runs. I did considerably better on this one. He mainly stayed healthy and played in 148 games. He hit 39 home runs, four above my prediction. Projection grade A.
5. Gleyber Torres will lead the Yankees in home runs
Last season after Torres hit 38 home runs in 2019; I predicted he would be much better during 2020. I was wrong. I made nearly the same prediction this season, saying that he would return to his winning ways and lead the Yankees in home runs. Suggesting he could hit as many as 45 long balls. We all know how that turned out. His defense was poor to the point that the Yankees gave up on him as their shortstop. If anything could be worse than that, his performance behind the plate was worse. I bombed big time on my prediction. He batted only .259 after an uptick late in the season; he hung around the .210 mark most of the season. He hit only nine home runs. Projection grade F.
6. Domingo German will be the winningest pitcher
After returning to the New York Yankees from his suspension, Domingo German will be the Yankees winningest pitcher. He started the season pitching magnificently in spring training which is what I based my prediction on. I predicted that he would have a 20 game winning season, returning to his 2019 performance when he went 18-4.Â I completely flopped in this one. German wasn’t close to good. He started the season with a heartbreaking loss and was sent down to Scranton to figure it out. Upon his return, he would go out and have a can’t touch performance, followed by miserable outings. He finished the season just 4-5 in 18 starts. Projection grade F.
7. Jonathan Loaisiga will be the Yankeesâ€™ best reliever
Loaisiga has been growing in Yankee importance for the last few years. This spring training, he was just short of perfect. He didn’t allow a run in his first six games. He had a tiny 1.26. He will outshine all the other relievers and give up less than 30 earned runs in the 2021 season. I will add a caveat that that could be affected by the number of innings he throws. I hit this one on the nose. Loaisiga has been the Yankees’ most dependable reliever. He is 9-4 with an ERA of 2.17 in 57 games. He had five saves. With all the pitching injuries, he quickly became Aaron Boone’s go-to guy. Projection grade A.
8. Gary Sanchez will prove the Yankees wrong
Last year I predicted that Gary Sanchez would have the second-most home runs of any Yankee player. I was correct; he shared that stat with DJ LeMahieu. This year I am saying that the New York Yankees made a mistake in offering him to stay with the team. As much as I would like to see him prevail if his spring training performance is was an indication, he will not. Gary gets into long slides that make him ineffective as a hitter. Although he got ten homers last year, he batted a miserable .147. I predict he will have another poor season that may seal his fate with the Yankees. I was pretty correct for the first half of the season, but after the All-Star break, he improved somewhat. He ended the season with a .204 batting average and 24 home runs. Regardless of the somewhat improved season, he is still a topic of controversy. Projection grade C.
9. Yankees will win 108 games
Last season, a 60 games season, I said that the Yankees would win 48 games; they only won 33. I fell substantially short of my prediction. In 2018 and 2019, they won 100 and 103 games. This year with improved pitching, they will exceed that and win 108 games. Unfortunately, I blew this one big time. The Yankees fell far below my prediction, with Aaron Boone guiding the club to only 92 wins on the season, falling eight games behind the East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. Projection grade F.
10. The Yankees will win their 28th World Championship
Last year I made this exact prediction and was very wrong; they didn’t even win the East Division. However, this year I will stick with the same forecast for several reasons. One is that at least at the beginning of the season, most all the Yankees are healthy. With their new pitching staff and the return of both Domingo German and Luis Severino, the New York Yankees will prevail over the significantly reduced Tampa Bay team, with the Toronto Blue Jays coming in second in the East. The Yankees will go on to beat the San Diego Padres in the World Series in seven games. I guess I am the perennial optimist; if they have a chance of winning it all, they have to have a highly dramatic turnaround.
As the Yankees failed miserably, so did my prediction. They won only 92 games but were good enough at the end to face the Boston Red Sox that I predicted would have a failed season. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost the winner take all wild card game, and their season was over. To add insult to injury on my prediction, the San Diego Padres didn’t even make the postseason. Projection grade F.
Notes: In my years of making annual predictions, so far, this has been my worst. However, in my defense, most industry analysts would have agreed with me. This has been a very disappointing season for the New York Yankees and its fans. No one has been able to come up with a reason that one of the most potent lineups in baseball hasn’t been able to hit the ball consistently. They have made far too many basic ball-playing mistakes and pitching failures. Jameson Taillon and Domingo German have underperformed. The loss of Corey Kluber for three months could not have been foreseen. The only part of the team that has mostly shined is the bullpen.
You usually don’t see substantial changes in teams until after the World Series has been completed. The Yankees have announced that they are retaining Aaron Boone as manager for at least another three years. They also will not renew the contracts of their hitting coach, assistant hitting coach, and third base coach. In addition, their first base coach announced he was retiring from the Yankees.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow him on Twitter @parleewilliam.