Saturday, December 31, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Yankees


As we are about to ring in a New Year, let's remember a Yankees season that was very much reminiscent of the last few. A huge rise, a steep midyear drop-off, some close playoff wins and an inevitable loss to Houston. Same Yanks, different year.

I'm not gonna lie and say there weren't any improvements to this Yankee team, because there certainly were. People like Nestor Cortes and Jose Trevino showed up and became surprise heroes, late additions like Harrison Bader and Matt Carpenter made for an exciting second half, and, well, Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs and gets to be a Yankee for the rest of his life. Even as the highs were higher than a lot of Yankee seasons of late, we still couldn't make a World Series, and it's getting to be that this team may not be able to leg it out for an entire postseason now that it's a month+ ordeal.

Aaron Hicks, this year, played his fullest season in a Yankee uniform since 2018. Though his defense has improved since the injury-plagued years, Hicks' plate numbers left a lot to be desired, as he hit .216 with 40 RBIs and 8 home runs. We've got him for another 3 or so years, and it's looking like he'll be starting the year in the outfield, so I hope he has something left.
2023 Prediction: He doesn't. Oswaldo, you're up, buddy.

2022 was Aroldis Chapman's final one in Yankee pinstripes, and in his absence, Clay Holmes, a 2021 pickup, got the ninth. The first half he was incredible, scoreless through May, and nabbing an All-Star nod. His July was almost enough to sink him, and he allowed 16 earned runs from July to September after allowing just two before then. Postseason Holmes was more akin to his earlier behavior, as he went scoreless in 5 appearances with 7 strikeouts, even if the ninth inning role had been given to another pitcher by this point. Still, Holmes ended the season with 20 saves and a leg up on the closing position going forward.
2023 Prediction: 30 saves. Not cleanly, but still. This is the post-Rivera era of Yankees pitching, not every closer is gonna be clean.

Inevitably, Domingo German had an opening this season to start again. I don't know if the Yankees have forgiven him in the way they forgave Chapman [initially], but he at least improved this year, with a 3.65 ERA and 58 Ks in 15 starts. Not perfect, but the exact kind of extra arm the Yanks had in mind.
2023 Prediction: Seeing as the Yankees will be going with a Cole-Rodon-Cortes-Montas-Severino rotation, and four of those guys have had health issues to this point, I expect 20 starts.

We signed Marwin Gonzalez to be a useful utility bat who can play just about anywhere, and that's exactly what he was for us. His fielding numbers were excellent, with his best fielding statistics since 2019 in Minneapolis. At the plate, while he did have 6 home runs and 18 RBIs, he still struggled to hit for average. 
2023 Prediction: Uses a Korean Leagues season as a ramp to eventually be a useful piece of a 2024 contender.

The Yanks had two relevant bullpen hidden gems for me this year. One of them was Ron Marinaccio, the rookie from Toms River, NJ who began the year in the Yankee bullpen. In 40 games he had a 2.05 ERA, 56 Ks and gained a fan-following. For a kid that grew up a Yankee fan, that's gotta be pretty cool.
2023 Prediction: Finishes in the top tier of the Yankee bullpen and lasts the whole season.

Additionally, Wandy Peralta continued his strong work since coming over from San Francisco. In 56 games he held a 2.72 ERA, only allowing 17 earned runs and coming away with 4 saves. Peralta was the team's primary closer during the postseason, and got 1 save during the Cleveland series, while striking out 8 and allowing 3 earned runs.
2023 Prediction: A down year, but the bullpen won't exactly suffer.

Of all things I expected going into this season, the Yankees signing Matt Carpenter and him being one of their biggest midyear successes was certainly not one of them. After his subpar years with St. Louis, and after a botched Spring Training gig with Texas, I figured he didn't have anything left. In just 47 games, Carpenter hit .305 with 15 home runs and 37 RBIs, finishing the season with a higher OPS than even Aaron Judge. Yes, an injury robbed him not only of a second half continuation but of any pop during the postseason, but that June was enough for us to appreciate him.
2023 Prediction: I don't think the Padres are gonna get much of what we just got.

Speaking of great performances stunted by an ill-timed injury, Andrew Benintendi was a high-profile trade for us, coming over from Kansas City. Though he took a while to get used to New York, he was just getting the hang of things, notching 5 RBI in the last weeks of August and keeping his season batting average above .300. Then, beginning of September he gets injured, Bader takes his place and becomes a postseason hero.
2023 Prediction: A worthy sequel to his 2021 KC numbers in Chicago.

And finally Frankie Montas, the one move I really wished the Yankees wouldn't have made. I figured Luis Castillo was a surer bet, but the Mariners got him and locked him up. Montas always came off as streaky and ineffective. After trading J.P. Sears and Ken Waldichuk to Oakland for him, Montas pitched 8 starts, and had a 6.35 ERA with 28 earned runs in the midst of injuries. 
2023 Prediction: I really hope there's some level of improvement. I really, really do. Cause if not, we just wasted another trade deadline. 

That's all I've got for 2022. I hope you've enjoyed the blog this year. Hopefully there'll be some level of content in the next few months before pitchers and catchers report.

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