Friday, December 31, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Yankees


...look, man. I don't know what to tell ya. The Yankees can stock their team with god knows who and god knows what, they can net some of the best talent at the deadline, they can have momentum from a good portion of their big stars, and it's not gonna do anything. And everybody else in baseball's fine with it, cause, well hey, they've won 27 of these, it's not a big loss. Meanwhile, teams like the Rays, with much cheaper payrolls, are getting further and acting like it's nothing. 

It's exhausting, guys. My first year blogging, both my teams played each other in the World Series. Now both of them are just doomed to horrible luck and being outdone by smaller competitors.

Brett Gardner is the last remaining Yankee who remembers the 2009 World Series, and I'd like to think this is the end of the rope for him. We've done the Andy Pettitte thing of just re-signing him on year deals just out of goodwill, but I don't think he has much left at all. Once again, Gardy was intended as a backup outfielder and played 140 games, hitting .222 with 39 RBIs and 10 home runs. 
2022 Prediction: I think he finally retires. The Yankees have signed Ender Inciarte to play the backup outfield role, and Gardy will be 38 next year. Maybe I'm wrong and some low-ball team brings him on. 

With Luis Severino and Deivi Garcia playing little part in the 2021 season, once-disgraced starter Domingo German had a pretty prominent role in things pre-injury. German started 18 games, had a 4.58 ERA, 98 Ks and a 4-5 record. A few shaky starts, but generally a strong option.
2022 Prediction: Well. The 2022 rotation seems to look like Cole, Montgomery, Taillon, Severino barring another injury, and someone else in this post. I don't think German has a spot here because everybody else in that schematic hasn't let the team down as much. So he does relief work and waits for an injury. 

One of the most exciting developments heading into 2021 was seeing Corey Kluber, to this point one of my favorite non-Yankee pitchers, pitch in the Bronx. It went mostly pretty well, as Klu even notched a no-hitter before, conveniently, landing on the IL. In 16 starts he had a 3.83 ERA, 5 wins, and 86 of his trademark Ks. 
2022 Prediction: Will play a similar role to Rich Hill last year when he suits up for the Rays. Some great starts, some human moments, but surprising quality. 

Undeniably, the best bullpen asset of 2021 was Joathan Loaisiga. Not even close. Loaisiga had the 4th-highest WAR on the whole team with 3.3- only Cole, Judge and Gumby had higher. In 57 appearances, he had a 2.17 ERA, 9 wins [more than any starter not named Cole], 69 Ks and only 17 earned runs. 
2022 Prediction: A step back, but still reliable numbers. Might even have to work the ninth once or twice.

Never made a Tyler Wade custom prior to this year? Well damn, here's one. Complete with a cool 9/11 inspired cap. The Yanks' resident super-ute had another nice year, hitting .268 with 34 hits and a team-high 17 steals in 105 games. 
2022 Prediction: I see him making a small team and by the end of the year he's starting. The Yanks kept him hid, he's pretty damn underrated. 

Now a few people who joined the team just barely into the season. Rougned Odor joining the Yankees was a pretty big deal- yes, he hadn't hit for average in a few years, but he's a fun, pesky little hitter who used to infuriate me. Better on our side than theirs. Rougie was a decent replacement during injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, and hit .202 with 15 homers and 39 RBIs in 102 games. Not perfect, but capable of some upsides.
2022 Prediction: The O's are going to like him. He might be in the top half of production in Baltimore, given their quality.

The biggest surprise was this guy, Nestor Cortes Jr. A former Orioles low-tier starting prospect, he relieved some games for us in 2019, was cut by the Mariners prior to the season and wound up back here. We initially used him in a long relief role/taking over for a short start, but we eventually gave him a rotation position, and he was honestly pretty phenomenal, with a 2.90 ERA, 103 Ks, and a 1.075 WHIP in 14 starts. During the stretch run, where we were looking for any bit of stability, Cortes was a nice safety blanket that we did not expect.
2022 Prediction: 10 wins, a similar unsung hero role behind bigger names, and hopefully some higher pay for it.
In a moment of starting droughts, the Yankees called up farmhand Luis Gil, to give him a shot. Gil raised some eyebrows early when he went his first three starts before allowing a run, eventually finishing with a 3.07 ERA and 38 Ks in 6 games. A little less than perfect towards the end, but some stellar energy in August. 
2022 Prediction: Not sure if there's an immediate place for him in the rotation, but he will get some starts in the majors eventually. 
And we end on the big deadline deal I didn't do during the season, that one dimensional outfield bat Joey Gallo. Gallo in New York did exactly what I thought- he had some great defensive numbers, but barely hit for average, with a .160! He didn't completely erase his stellar start, but he did stall in place for a bit. Bottom line is his power numbers didn't suffer, with 22 RBIs and 13 homers. 
2022 Prediction: Numbers a bit more similar to his first half, some more defensive dominance, and giving Stanton and Judge a run for their money with homers.

That's Uncustomed Heroes for this year. Regular customs will be back in February [?], and I've got some things cooked up for the next few months. 

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