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2018 MLB Preview: New York Yankees

A look at the New York Yankees with fantasy baseball in mind.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 91-71
Runs: 2nd
Home Runs: 1st
Stolen Bases: 12th
ERA: 5th
Saves: 18th
Strikeouts: 4th

With the AL Rookie of the Year (and near AL MVP) Aaron Judge and a Cy Young caliber season from Luis Severino, the Yankees took the Astros the distance in the ALCS. This offseason, New York added to the already 2nd best offense in baseball, behind those same Astros, with the acquisition of the NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. High expectations now loom in the Bronx, something this franchise is pretty accustom to. Will the offense be historic? Will the pitching hold up another season?

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Giancarlo Stanton

The #5 hitter in fantasy last season is now the Yankees best fantasy option. Stanton put up monster numbers with the Marlins in 2017. The NL MVP hit .281 with a .631 SLG and had a league leading 59 HR and 132 RBI. Perhaps the only player who could match Stanton in power is his new teammate, Judge. The 2 steals for Stanton hurt his overall fantasy appeal, thus making him the #5 hitter instead of the clear #1. The only knock on Stanton is the injury risk. Despite playing in 159 games last year, Stanton only averaged 115 games per season the 5 years prior. One could also say the bright lights of New York, in addition to trying to repeat his incredible 2017, will be a detriment to Stanton. He’s going from a home ballpark which averaged just over 20,000 fans a game to Yankee Stadium, which boasted the 4th best attendance at just under 40,000 a game. All this is just knit picking a clear top 15 fantasy option in 2018. Don’t get too cute when ranking Stanton.

The Sleeper: Didi Gregorius

What if I told you a Yankees SS finished twice as high as his ADP and also set the Yankee SS record for most home runs in a season? Plus, he only played 136 games as he had a late start to 2017 and didn’t see the field until April 28. No, Derek Jeter didn’t come out of retirement a month into the season. This, my friends, is Didi Gregorius! Gregorius finished the year as the #116 overall player in fantasy last season. He did so with an ADP of 221.3 on ESPN, which made him the #260 overall player going in drafts. He’s coming off a season with career highs in home runs(25), RBI(87), runs(73), and a career best slash line of .287/.318/.478. He’s also getting a new teammate and another season with sluggers like Judge and Gary Sanchez. Gregorius is poised to have another career year. Assuming health, and 150+ games, Gregorius is a top 100 fantasy option.

The Guy to Avoid: Aroldis Chapman

Closers are perhaps the biggest headache in fantasy baseball. Chapman was universally drafted as the #2 closer in 2017, behind Kenley Jansen. This gave him an ADP of 56.7. 56.7! People drafted Chapman over players like Stephen Strasburg, Jacob deGrom, and Justin Upton. Chapman finished the year with a 3.22 ERA 69 K and 22 SV. This made him the #33 RP in fantasy. Again, the #2 RP in ADP was the #33 RP at the end of the season. This is kind of a knock on Chapman but more so on the extreme fluidity of the closer position as a whole. Chapman could have a bounce back year in 2018. But the declining skills, giving up more hits and walking more batters, combined with the injury risk and the overall randomness of the position lands me to rank Chapman far lower than his current ECR of 70 overall.

The Prospect To Watch: Gleyber Torres

Torres entered 2017 as a top 5 prospect for Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. He’s now the #1 hitting prospect by MLB Pipeline and pretty much everywhere else. The Yankees have a spot at 2B open with the trade of Starlin Castro and that spot appears tailor made for Torres. The pause for Torres is 2 fold: 1)He’s coming off Tommy John surgery 2)GM Brian Cashman recently said it was “more likely” Torres would start 2018 in the minors. Despite this, I’m a firm believer Torres will see the majority of his 2018 at bats in the majors. Over 55 games between AA and AAA, Torres hit .287/.383/.480 with 7 HR 34 RBI 31 R and 7 SB in 2017. He was on the fast track to the big league roster last year had he not been injured. Torres could be a 20-20 guy hitting around .280 in perhaps the best lineup in baseball.