New York Yankees: I batted .400 on my 2020 season projections, a look back

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

About a week before the New York Yankees 2020 shortened season started, I made my annual top 10 predictions for the upcoming season. Writers seldom look back at those mostly failed predictions not to embarrass themselves because making predictions is a risky business, kind of like guessing what the weather will be a month from today. Well, as it turned out, I batted .400, which isn’t very good unless you’re a baseball player. Anyway, today I have my big boy pants on and will discuss where I went wrong.

10.  Gary Sanchez will be second in home runs!

Gary Sanchez with fight Giancarlo Stanton for the second-most home runs in the season.  His defense behind the plate will again improve, showing the results of his work with new pitching coach Tanner Swanson.  Sanchez may have his first injury-free season, mostly due to the shortened season. He will catch in just 40 games with Kyle Higashioka will be catching in the remaining games.  With Stanton and Sanchez, who wins the title of 2nd most home runs, will rest on who can stay injury-free.

I eked out a win on this one. He did come in second in home runs, tied with DJ LeMahieu, with 10 apiece. Luke Voit has the most at 22 to lead baseball. Other than his home runs, he had a pretty miserable season, eventually losing out to Kyle Higashioka, who became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Late in the season, Sanchez was often sat, including in the postseason.

9.  DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!

DJ LeMahieu, after a slow start, will have a good season, being on base frequently.  His defense will be MVP-like, but his time behind the plate will not be as effective.  His slow start may be due to not starting on time and remaining somewhat weak early on due to his coronavirus infection.  His last 30 games will be better than his first 30. Instead of his .327 leading batting average, he will end up the season in the .280’s.

Boy, was I wrong on this one? Rather than being good, he was even better in the 2020 season. His excellent defense had him playing at all three infield bases. He finished the season an MVP candidate with another Silver Slugger Award and winning the baseball batting title, the first player to do that in both leagues.

8. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!

A more mature Clint Frazier will finally prove to the Yankees that he is worth having on the team.  He will show his determination by fighting through a season with a foot ailment.  His improved fielding will be needed this season, and his quick bat will make him a DJ LeMahieu-like player for the Yankees in this short season.

This one I got correct. Although he didn’t play at the beginning of the season, when he did, he proved to manager Aaron Boone that he had the stuff to be an excellent player for the Yankees. He did mature and, at times, dazzled Yankee fans with his much-improved defense.

7. Does Giancarlo Stanton return to the player he was in 2017?

Giancarlo Stanton will have a relatively healthy season with the Yankees. He will show signs of the type of player that got him the MVP Award with the Marlins in 2017.  Although he will not top the team in home runs, he will have fewer strikeouts and be more productive.  If he stays healthy, he could be second in home runs.

I’m counting this one as wrong, although some of it is true. We will never know as he again had injuries keeping him out of the lineup, although he did come on strong in the waning days of the season and postseason.

6. Gerrit Cole will not lose a 2020 game!

After going 20-5 with the Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole will again shine for the New York Yankees.  Although he will not lose a game, he will have two or three no-decisions in his ten or eleven starts in the short season.  The Yankee’s excellent bullpen will keep him from losing games.  In the postseason, he will pitch to the greatness of the Yankee’s Andy Pettitte. I want to add that Justin Verlander will not replicate his 2019 and that Cole will win the Cy Young Award. He has come in 4th and 5th, last year, 2nd in the voting.  This year he will win it as New York Yankee.

I guess this one was wishful thinking. At the time, his 2019 season made my projection a possibility. Although he pitched well, he seemed to struggle at times. Proving that he is a workhorse, he pitched more innings than any other Yankee pitcher. But he was far back in the Cy Young voting.

5. Gio Urshela will show 2019 was no fluke.

2019 was a break-out season for the man at the hot corner that replaced the injured Miguel Andujar, that underwent shoulder surgery. He made Gold Glove after Gold Glove catches at 3rd.  He surprised the team with his better than expected play behind the plate. Although he may not make his 2019 batting average of .314, he will nevertheless prove his worth behind the plate and the hot corner.

I won on this one; Gio was the same Gio as in his breakout season. He cements his place at the hot corner and hit .298 on the season with 6 home runs.

4. Aaron Judge will again have an injury-shortened season.

Aaron Judge will have an average season that he will not get through without further injuries. Although he will be 4th in home runs for the team, he will lack playing time in the field, even though manager Aaron Boone will be protective of him.  His oversized body and musculature will surely hamper his season again.

This seemed like a fairly safe bet before the season started, and it came true. As it turned out, he played in fewer than half of the games. He got off to a torrid start hitting 9 home runs, but he never had another home run after rejoining the team.

3. The Yankees will win 48 games in the short-season.

After the New York Yankees won 100 and 103 games during the last two seasons, they will win 48 games this year.  The Yankees will dominate their traditional rivals in the east along with the Miami Marlins.  The few games they will lose will mostly be with the Nationals, Phillies, and the Atlanta Braves. The addition of Gerrit Cole will offset the loss of Domingo German and Luis Severino.

I was big-time wrong on this one, although some other writers were saying the Yankees would win even more games. Lengthy stretches of losses and the Tampa Bay Rays put that hope on the backburner.

2. Gleyber Torres will be the Yankees MVP.

Gleyber Torres, although taking on a new job this season as the Yankee shortstop, will shine again, topping his 2019 performance, and will lead the team again in home runs and doubles.  He will win the MVP for his performance behind the plate.  Although he will not be the best of shortstops, his efforts to be the best will turn out to be adequate.

Nope, the 2020 season will be one that Gleyber Torres will most likely want to forget. After leading the home runs in 2019, he came in 11th in a 9 man lineup. Add to that he came in second in errors at short.

1. The New York Yankees will win their 28th World Championship.

Before the coronavirus struck and the season was shut down, the New York Yankees were the odds on favorites to win the division and the World Series. The shortened season has not changed that; in fact, the shutdown allowed injured players to recover and be ready for play at the beginning of the season.  Although there will be injuries, they will not come close to eclipsing 2019.  The shortened season will cause fewer injuries.

This seemed like a reasonable projection at the time, the Yankees were favored to win it all, but they didn’t come close to that, after losing the East Division to the much better Tampa Bay Rays. They did beat the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card Series, only to lose to the Rays in the ALCS.

I will probably be bold enough to tackle projections for the 2021 season as well. At the moment, it doesn’t look good for the New York Yankees. But we will have to see what they do to improve the team in their continual quest for that 28th World Championship.  The Yankees have won 27 of those championships, but we are quickly learning that the past is not a sign of the future.

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