The New York Yankees triumphed in 102 baseball games in 2022, but exactly zero out of those 102 came when they needed it most. A sweep at the hands of their arch-rival Houston Astros rendered an impressive 99-win regular season from the Bronx Bombers meaningless and exposed the deficiencies that had plagued New York all year. Vegas agrees that the Yankees downturn is only beginning, setting the line at 94.5 wins for 2023. However, the Yankees O/U is too low to make the under good value. Here’s why.
Why the Yankees O/U is Too Low at 94.5 wins
Positive regression from key contributors
A large part of the decrease in projected wins for NY is the offensive regression, especially from one Aaron Judge.
The reigning MVP carried the offense on his back last year and earned a $360 million payday for it. Fangraphs projects Judge to fall to a measly 7.7 WAR in 2023 with only 46 home runs and a 167 wRC+. Even planning for regression, a near 50 home run/8.0 WAR season would be ridiculous from Judge and could still carry the Yankees through slumps.
What is often left unsaid about these Yankees is the positive regression they will get from multiple key contributors. While the production in 2022 mainly came from the top of the order, the 2023 Yankees are primed to strike from anywhere. Josh Donaldson is expected to bounce back from an anomaly of a 2022 season, as he’s projected for a .727 OPS and 111 wRC+, putting him as a solidly above-average hitter.
DJ LeMahieu battled a foot injury toward the end of last year, coincidentally when the Yankees started struggling, and a banged-up LeMahieu still hit .261 with a 116 wRC+ last year.
Oswaldo Cabrera posted an absurd 1.5 WAR in a little over a month last year, and in 2023 he’ll get the chance to extrapolate those numbers over a full season and showcase why he is the left fielder of the future in the Bronx. And that’s not even to mention New York’s two diamonds in the rough, Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, both highly-touted infield prospects that look set to have impressive rookie seasons.
The 2023 Yankees will be much more well-rounded and if Judge only barely regresses, look out.
A Top-Tier Rotation and Bullpen
New York’s pitching is also a major improvement on last year, as they now have debatably the best staff in the game along with a top-five bullpen.
The off-season acquisition of Carlos Rodon gave the Yanks an unbelievable one through four in the rotation, with Luis Severino having the highest projected ERA at only 3.54. Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes, and Severino are all coming off great 2022 seasons and could all reasonably be aces on a fair amount of MLB teams. And if Frankie Montas can come back healthy late in the season and return to his Oakland form, the Yankees will have a rotation of five ace-level pitchers. It wouldn’t be wise to bet against that.
In the pen, while the Yankees did lose Chad Green to the Toronto Blue Jays and Aroldis Chapman to the Kansas City Royals, they get one of the best relievers in baseball in Michael King back after an injury kept him out for most of the season last year. They also re-signed Tommy Kahnle after Tommy John surgery kept him out in 2022.
All-Star closer Clay Holmes will presumably be the favorite to close games, but the Yankees do have other options, as pitching coach Matt Blake has reshaped a number of project pitchers into dependable arms. Assuming the bullpen retains its dominance, the Yankees will be very content with their pitching in 2023.
Unlikely to Repeat a Late-Season Slide
After a 12-5 win in Fenway Park last year, the Yankees were 61-23 and up 15.5 games in the AL East with just under half the season to play. They finished the season 38-40, two games under .500, and backed their way into the division crown unconvincingly.
The Yankees played below average for around half the season last year and still ended up with 99 wins. The odds that happen again are low, and while they likely won’t have another historic start, 99 wins seems a very achievable goal. Also, 2023 is the first year of MLB’s schedule change, and that benefits the Yankees. They now only play each AL East team 14 times instead of 19, and the AL East is one of the best divisions in baseball, so the Bombers’ win total should only increase and the Yankees O/U should be an easy over.
While Aaron Judge might be due for some negative regression, the New York Yankees aren’t, and the Yankees O/U line of 94.5 wins is set far too low. Key contributors on offense will rebound from last year, and the young kids will get a chance to prove themselves on the big stage. The rotation is potentially the best in baseball, and the bullpen might have a claim to that title too. A prolonged skid like last year is unlikely to happen again, and that combined with the new schedule should ensure the Yankees O/U ends up more around their 2022 win total of 99 than their 2023 line of 94.5.
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