2016 Yankees Fantasy Preview

Baseball season is upon us, and while that is certainly exciting in its own right, this also means that fantasy baseball season is in full swing. We find ourselves nearing that sweet spot on the calendar right before Opening Day where many of you are holding your drafts, with all of your hopes and dreams about you.

Baseball Prospectus will help you gain an edge this season by rallying its local sites to provide fantasy previews for their respective teams. You can view each of the local fantasy previews by clicking here.

While the 2016 New York Yankees may not be the legendary wrecking crew that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in years past, don’t gloss over the potential fantasy value to be had here. While quite a few bats are another year older, they still have plenty of life, and there are some new faces joining the party. There isn’t a “top 50” option within the organization, but the Yankees have a healthy amount of depth options that bring plenty of intrigue and value.

N.B.Each player will be listed with their ADP data according to NFBC except for the prospects. The subsequent draft round suggestions given here are based on a standard 5×5, 12-team rotisserie league with one catcher.

There will be four categories: Players worth their draft spot, sleepers, busts, and deeper/keeper/dynasty options. Be aware that sleeper doesn’t necessarily mean superstar, nor does bust mean they’re going to be a total zero. As Albert Einstein allegedly said: “It’s all relative baby.”

Enough chit-chat, I know you want the goods.


Worth Their Draft Spot


Jacoby Ellsbury, OF – ADP: 102

2016 PECOTA Projection – .274, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 84 R, 33 SB


Ellsbury has drawn plenty of ire from the fantasy community for being injury-prone, whether that meant missing time or playing hurt (and therefore posting underwhelming numbers). In honesty, his 2011 was just so strong that it anchored us to unrealistic expectations, so that should be let go. Why can’t 2016 Ellsbury do what 2014 Ellsbury did, and post a 5×5 category line of 71/16/70/39/.271? PECOTA seems to give him a decent shot. Well, here comes that injury monster again; 2015 was derailed by a sprained knee that he suffered on a swing in May.

In 2015, the soft contact rate jumped from 17% to 23.8%, and his ISO fell from .148 to .088. Almost all of the bad numbers came after he returned from his knee injury. Was he pressing after missing so much time? Perhaps he just needed an offseason to reset. With some fragility to his frame, it is disconcerting to heavily invest in a player who posted such poor numbers last year. The thing is, at this point the hatred has pushed Ellsbury’s value too far down, and now he stands to be a great risk to take where you can snag him in the late 8th/early 9th round as an OF3 type. If you take him in Round 7, though, you’re starting to push it.

Expected Draft Round – 8th


Aroldis Chapman, RP – ADP: 77*

2016 PECOTA Projection – 2–2, 2.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 77 K, 33 SV


Chapman will serve a 30-game suspension to open the 2016 season, so you know right now that you are paying for 132 games max. He is losing about a fifth of his season, so let’s take that out of last year’s numbers and see what rough estimate we get: 53 IP with 26 saves and 90 Ks, with his 1.63 ERA and 1.15 WHIP being unaffected. Yeah, that’s still really good.

He’s the closer for NYY when active, and remember, your RP slot at the end of the year will be Chapman’s 132 games + 30 games out of a fill-in. Use this appropriately, but know that his ADP here doesn’t fully reflect the suspension either. I have seen him going as the fifth-to-seventh RP off the board in around the ninth-tenth rounds regularly throughout March.

Expected Draft Round – 10th


Brian McCann, C – ADP: 111

2016 PECOTA Projection – .243, 26 HR, 80 RBI, 68 R, 0 SB


While much is made over his defense, we in the fantasy community care solely about the bombs that come off of his bat. He enters his age-32 season on the heels of a career-high 26 home runs in 2015, and there’s no reason to expect that to drop off. He is the stereotypical old and creaky powerful catcher though, so that low .230s average is here to stay. Sure. it doesn’t help that he gets shifted against so harshly, but there’s no shift that can cover the right field seats. If he can get another 525 PAs in 2016, he should be in contention for the No. 3 catcher ranking. Around the tenth round is a perfect spot to lock him up and get great production out of the C-slot.

Expected Draft Round – 10th


Masahiro Tanaka, SP – ADP: 118

2016 PECOTA Projection – 13–10, 3.78 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 170 K


No one is ever going to feel comfortable drafting Tanaka this year when you consider that partially torn UCL is still kicking, having been rehabbed without Tommy John surgery. This is all about risk and reward given the draft slot, and at his current ADP he is well worth it. In 290 1/3 major league innings he has struck out nearly a batter per inning (280 Ks) and has posted a 3.16 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. His command is elite, your WHIP category will love you for owning him, and while the homers are somewhat of an issue, his aforementioned skill at limiting baserunners helps keep a lid on the damage. Getting potential low-end SP1 numbers out of the tenth round is gold.

Expected Draft Round – 10th


Brett Gardner, OF – ADP: 135

2016 PECOTA Projection – .256, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 70 R, 19 SB


Brett Gardner is not the same speedster from 2010 and 2011 that can give you almost 50 bags, but what he’s lost in stolen bases he seems to have gained in pop. He crossed into double-digit power in a major way in 2014, going from eight home runs to 17! Last year he showed this was no fluke, hitting 16. His ISO rates hover around .140-.150, and the batted ball profile shows that he increased his fly-ball rate as the steals declined. He even brought his walk rate up from 8.8% to 10.4% last year. He won’t excel in any one category, but he should be a five category contributor that can be had later on to round out your outfield.

Expected Draft Round – 11th


Luis Severino, SP – ADP: 154

2016 PECOTA Projection – 10–10, 4.17 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 149 K


Severino makes for a tricky case as you have battling narratives. On the one hand, he is a young prospect who came up and had a great year down the stretch in 2015, so that buzz will follow him. He has the stuff to strike out a batter per inning, ringing up 56 in 62 1/3 innings last year, and his command should continue to improve to his minor league levels of a roughly 6% walk rate (it was 8.6% last year). He also has that aforementioned great defensive catcher in Brian McCann.

On the other hand, he is a starter in Yankee Stadium and is dealing with a rather small sample size of 62 1/3 IP in the majors, with peripherals that do not back up his 2.89 ERA (4.37 FIP/3.72 xFIP/3.84 SIERA). The Yankees also won’t let his workload go unchecked in 2016 either, so be prepared to eat a few skipped starts. You’re walking a tightrope between getting good value and setting the bar too high and creating a “bust” environment with Severino.

Expected Draft Round – 15th


Andrew Miller, RP – ADP: 155

2016 PECOTA Projection – 3–2, 2.41 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 77 K, 9 SV


Miller has risen a bit since the Chapman suspension, as his elite relief numbers are now guaranteed to come with a good shot at 8-10 saves. Miller has posted two nearly identical years out of the pen now, with around 62 innings and 100 strikeouts alongside a ~2.00 ERA and 0.80’s WHIP. Anyone would be pleased at that, on top of the notion that if something happens to Chapman down the road Miller is always the next man up. He’ll pick up a few wins along the way, but his value is mostly wrapped up in bringing down those ratios and providing a fantastic K/9.

Expected Draft Round – 15th


Mark Teixeira, 1B – ADP: 181

2016 PECOTA Projection – .236, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 69 R, 2 SB


Okay so don’t look at his 2015 and think that he’s back, as tempting as that is. Teixeira had a vintage-Tex year where he blasted 31 homers despite only racking up 462 PAs (in the past three years he’s tallied 524, 508, and 462), so some might be thinking that if he’s healthy this year he could be a 35+ HR bat. His HR/FB rate was an uncharacteristically high 23.5%, which should regress to his career average of 18.3%. Don’t get me wrong; I still really like him in this spot for 2016, but don’t do it for a monstrous power surge.

Here are some other encouraging signs though: he posted his highest walk rate (12.8%) since 2010, and brought down his increasing K% to a respectable 18.4% (it had risen to 21.5% in 2014). He did have the highest ISO of his career at .293, with a strong fly-ball rate (42.3%), pull-rate (55.4%), and hard-hit rate (35.3%). I just want to make it clear that Teixeira’s powerful 2015 wasn’t all luck as that HR/FB stat might have you believe, and while that should regress to his mean, he was swinging the bat very well last year. If you can snag him late as your 1B or CI, you should be happy. Do have a backup though, because he seems destined for a DL stint each year.

Expected Draft Round – 16th


Dellin Betances, RP – ADP: 222

2016 PECOTA Projection – 3–3, 2.39 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 93 K, 3 SV


The best “third-best” reliever you’re going to find in the majors. He has a long road ahead of him for saves, but you’re going to get amazing stats out of him regardless of his role. Just as Miller’s average stats over the past two years have been phenomenal, Betances’s have been other-worldly with an average of 87 IP, five wins, 133 Ks, 1.45 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. His swinging-strike rate jumped from 13.0% to 15.1%, because that’s what he needed to improve on.

What does need touching up is the control; his walk rate jumped up from 7.0% to 12.1%, though he just happened to be so good that he could dance around it and remain effective. If the command comes back to him, then he should be even better and see that WHIP drop well below one again. You know what you’re getting with Betances, and if you play with innings limits then his strikeout ratio (as well as ERA/WHIP assistance) can really play nicely for you.

Expected Draft Round – 19th




Michael Pineda, SP – ADP: 162

2016 PECOTA Projection – 13–9, 3.63 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 169 K


There’s a lot to say about Michael Pineda, probably more good than bad. He’s still being undervalued coming into this year thanks to his poor close to 2015, which was most likely due to a workload of 160 2/3 IP that he hadn’t approach since 2011 due to various health issues. Pineda is a sabermetric darling heading into 2016, with his ugly 4.37 ERA hiding his beautiful 3.34 FIP/2.95 xFIP/3.09 SIERA. Using xFIP is tricky with Pineda as he pitches in Yankee Stadium and does have to keep his pitches down more consistently. PECOTA also believes that ERA will dip down.

If you needed more reasoning towards why I think he’s steal at this price though, here you go. His groundball rate shot up from 39.1% to 48.2% with his fly-ball rate plummeting from 42.3% to 29.9%, which does bode well moving forward for the gopher-ball problems. If he can stay relatively healthy in 2016 (and he already has one year with a sizable workload under his belt), then he stands to take huge steps forward and see his surface stats align with those amazing sabermetric ones. Out of starting pitchers who pitched 150+ innings last year, his SIERA was 12th best in the league. You have a legitimate shot at a top-15 SP late here, take your shot.

Expected Draft Round – 12th


Starlin Castro, 2B/SS – ADP: 189

2016 PECOTA Projection – .274, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 49 R, 6 SB


While his name is starting to buzz thanks to the move to Yankee Stadium, he still has a tinge of “letdown” that is weighing him down. He will have just turned 26 when Opening Day rolls around, and his career has plenty of life still in it. There’s no getting around that his 2013 and 2015 campaigns were horribly disappointing, with last year’s atrocious first half leaving many raising their eyebrows when approaching Castro.

His streaky nature has been chalked up to his own mental lapses, but if his new digs do his mindset well then we could see the Castro that hit the ball much better in the second half last year. His ISO in the first half was .074, but in the second half it bounced back up to .169 which was the eighth highest out of all shortstops. If he can sustain that sweet swing out of your MI slot, you could be sitting pretty without having to spend for the same numbers out of a guy like Brandon Crawford.

Expected Draft Round – 17th


Nathan Eovaldi, SP – ADP: 313

2016 PECOTA Projection – 10–10, 4.19 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 18 HR, 119 K


Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild finally helped Eovaldi find a pitch that could complement his incredible fastball in 2015, his splitter. Eovaldi’s 2015 was intriguing as far as perception heading into 2016 goes. He had a 14–3 record in his first season with the Yankees which is hard to ignore, but he paired it with a 4.20 ERA and a horrid 1.45 WHIP. His strikeout rate went up but it appears to have cost his some control. The past two years have seen his ERA be around a full run higher than his FIP, so perhaps people are waiting on a train that isn’t coming. It costs you nothing to see if he can become that mid-threes ERA pitcher though, so in deep leagues he is a sleeper worth your last round pick.

Expected Draft Round – 24th


Carlos Beltran, OF – ADP: 324

2016 PECOTA Projection – .258, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 61 R, 3 SB


Beltran had a strong, albeit under the radar, 2015 campaign that saw him hit 19 homers with 67 RBIs and a .276 average in 531 PAs. Perhaps he is being ignored because people just assume he’s fallen off a cliff, or that he’s bound to be hurt all year, but the facts state that he still had an OPS of .808 and still has a healthy 33.1% hard-hit rate.2016 will be his age-39 season, but if the Yankees platoon him effectively with Aaron Hicks and you have daily moves in your league where you can play him against righties (.831 OPS vs. RHP against a .752 OPS vs. LHP) then you can get the best of Beltran for only peanuts. PECOTA is on the Beltran bandwagon, perhaps you should jump on too.

Expected Draft Round – 24th




Alex Rodriguez, DH – ADP: 268

2016 PECOTA Projection – .243, 22 HR, 74 RBI, 70 R, 6 SB


A-Rod is going to turn 41 on July 27, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at last year’s numbers. He sprang back into relevancy with 33 homers, 83 runs scored and 86 RBIs in a just-as-surprising 620 plate appearances. He had plenty of rest before the season though, considering he missed all of 2014, and his first half was considerably stronger than his second half (.278 average vs. .216). This might lead Joe Girardi to rest him more depending on the health and availability of the other aging sluggers. The other ding on him outside of age and durability is that he’s a DH now, so he’s probably only eligible at Utility.

His average draft cost is late on the surface here, but it honestly depends on which of two groups your leaguemates fall into. If they’re the “savvy sharps” that will let him slip forever because he’s old and breaking down, then A-Rod is a good value. More often I feel like a league will have at least one guy who will “reach” for him based on his name as well as chasing those power numbers from last year. If you do that, he will be a bust relative to where he gets taken (I’ve seen plenty grab him around the 16th round). The Hall-of-Fame hopeful could still be plus value for you with 20+ homers and counting stats that come with hitting in the heart of the Yankees’ order late, but you need to know your league.

Expected Draft Round – 16th


Chase Headley, 3B – ADP: 352

2016 PECOTA Projection – .258, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 66 R, 5 SB


You only want to consider him in the deepest of mixed leagues, or AL-only ones. Unfortunately I’ve seen him being drafted as a 12 team CI option when he has less power than Yangervis Solarte. Headley totaled 642 plate appearances in 2015, and while he scored 74 runs and tallied 62 RBIs, he only hit 11 homers to go with a .259 average. His ISO was .110, its lowest since 2011 when he had a soft-contact rate of 17.4%. His fly-ball rate was the lowest of his career at 30.4%, and he just appears destined for mediocrity. He’s still certainly serviceable thanks to his consistent playing time in deep leagues, but nothing more.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


CC Sabathia, SP – ADP: 462

2016 PECOTA Projection – 12–10, 4.54 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 142 K


Bold, right? I don’t think an ADP exists where I wouldn’t consider him a bust. Don’t do this to yourself, just don’t do it. I know he’s “only” 35 but he’s also been pitching 180+ innings per year since he was 20 so there’s plenty of mileage on the body. He is missing fewer bats, giving up tons of hard contact, and batters are pulling his pitches at a nearly career-worst rate. Simply put, he cannot be an effective pitcher as of now (read: anymore). It won’t cost you anything to take a very late flier on him, but there are just so many other late up-and-comers where Sabathia really isn’t worth it.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Deeper/Keeper League Options


Aaron Hicks, OF – ADP: 301

2016 PECOTA Projection – .238, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 35 R, 7 SB

Hicks’s 2012 with the Twins’ Double-A affiliate saw him hit 13 homers with 32 stolen bases along with a .285 average. Disappointment followed. His skills never fully translated to the major-league level, as seen by a .192 average in 2013 followed by a .215 mark in 2014. He may only be the Yankees’ fourth outfielder as of now, but as we’ve touched on, Ellsbury and Beltran have their own injury concerns and Beltran specifically should see plenty of rest. If Hicks does fall into regular playing time, he has 20/20 skills which would take your team to the next level.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Didi Gregorius, SS – ADP: 374

2016 PECOTA Projection – .253, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 56 R, 4 SB


Deep mixed and AL-Only folks will want to keep Didi Gregorius in mind, as his 578 PAs last year point to his steady job in a Yankees lineup that can generate runs. His projected 56 runs and 55 RBIs from a middle infielder are nice to snag for nothing, even if it comes with no considerable power or speed. His ISO and fly-ball rates took a step back upon coming to New York, but he did start seeing those rates trend upwards in the second half. Perhaps he just needed to get comfortable in the Big Apple, and his age-26 season might see the power take a small step forward. If he goes 60/12/60/6/.260 for you deep-leaguers, you’ll be okay with that.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Gary Sanchez, C

2016 PECOTA Projection – .239, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R


Most would probably guess Sanchez is at least 30 by now, as it feels like he’s been a touted prospect for eons. He is actually entering his age-23 season, although he is clearly blocked on the Yankees by Brian McCann. Last year he hit 25 homers with 83 RBIs across three levels in the Yankees’ system, with the majority of his PAs coming in Double-A ball. Seeing that power translate to real games is one of the last hurdles for Sanchez, and those in keeper leagues would do well to target him with 2017 in mind. He could find himself in the mix for some DH duties or catching to spell McCann by late 2016.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Aaron Judge, OF

2016 PECOTA Projection – .231, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R


Aaron Judge is the next big outfield prospect, though we know how crowded the Yankees’ outfield really is. Judge hit 20 homers in 540 PAs between Double-A and Triple-A last year, showing off a more compact swing in 2015. He might find himself some big-league ABs in late 2016, but Judge has a great chance at staking claim to some OF playing time when Beltran’s contract is up after this year. Keeper/dynasty leaguers will want to stash him now.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Rob Refsnyder, 2B

2016 PECOTA Projection – .262, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB


Refsnyder isn’t the flashiest prospect, and he enters his age-25 season still without a clear path to playing time in the majors thanks to the Starlin Castro trade. Refsnyder’s offensive skills give him a ceiling of a 12/15/.300 type player, but his defense has yet to make the leap. In Triple-A last year he hit nine homers and stole 12 bases with a .271 average in 522 PAs. Deeper keeper/dynasty players won’t want to let him slide by undrafted, but Castro and Gregorius are poised to be the middle infielders in the Bronx for the foreseeable future. Draft him and hope for a trade where he can get regular playing time.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Jorge Mateo, SS


Mateo is a dynasty league draft consideration, as his major league debut probably won’t come until 2018 (he’s only 20), but he has game-breaking speed and stole 82 bases last year in Single-A and High-A ball. He has nonzero power with a healthy swing, and while the payoff won’t come for a few years, dynasty leaguers should get him now if they can. Monitor him as he continues to progress through the minor league system with that bat, but that speed will play at any level and he’s shown enough with the bat to warrant a strong look.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Greg Bird, 1B


Don’t forget about the Birdman as he misses all of 2016 after getting surgery to repair a torn labrum. He hit 11 homers in 178 PAs last year, but you’ll probably want to see how his rehab goes before investing too heavily, just as the Yankees are going to need to see how he bounces back before handing him the keys to first base in 2017 and beyond. Luckily, labrum surgery has quite an effect on draft price for those of you in dynasty leagues.

Expected Draft Round – 25+


Lead photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

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