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What to expect from the Yankees in the second half

The All-Star break is coming to a close, as the Yankees begin the second half at home against the Blue Jays tomorrow. So what can we expect from some of the players as well as the team in these last 74 games?

Top hitter – DJ LeMahieu

LeMahieu is pacing the American League with his .336 batting average. His expected batting average, however, is .313. The following table breaks it down.

Stat

Batting Average Slugging WOBA BABIP

Actual

.336

.518

.382

.369

Expected .313 .484 .367

Looking at the chart, it seems as is LeMahieu is due for some regression. For reference, an average BABIP is around .300, but his career average is .346. This means that he is more likely to regress only slightly towards that mark, which is still considered elite. Given his history as an excellent hitter as well as his rankings in exit velocity (84thpercentile) and hard hit percentage (79thpercentile), I do not expect any steep drop-off from LeMahieu.

Top pitcher – Domingo German

I could have gone with Masahiro Tanaka here, but I wanted to see if German’s breakout campaign is sustainable. Of course, he will be on some sort of innings limit, but besides that is there any signs that point to a regression?

Right now, hitters are hitting .218 off of German. His XBA is at .245. His hard-hit rate is actually higher than it was last year: 38.4 percent versus 36.6 percent. One thing that he has improved on is his walk rate, which is down from 8.8 percent in 2018 to 6.1 percent this season. He has already thrown 76.0 innings and his career-high at any level is 123.1, which he accomplished in  2014 at Single-A with the Marlins. But besides that his high was last year, throwing 85.2 innings.

I think German can sustain his current success; I don’t think anyone expected him to continue what he doing in the first couple of months of the season. In fact, his FIP of 4.03 (considered a little above average) is actually higher than his xFIP which is 3.79. Innings limit aside, German should be an important piece of the team’s rotation, at least until they acquire a starter.

Team

 Here is how the team has performed in the first half versus the second half in recent years.

Year

First Half Second Half
2018 62-33 (.653)

38-29 (.567)

2017 45-41 (.523)

46-30 (.605)

2016 44-44 (.500)

40-34 (.541)

2015

48-40 (.545) 39-35 (.527)
2014 47-47 (.500)

37-31 (.544)

I have to acknowledge that some of the teams above were much different than what is currently on the roster. Based on this data, there is no clear indication if the Yankees tend to improve in the second half or not. But given that this team has already used 42 different position players and 19 different pitchers, it is safe to say that they have in a way exceeded expectations. Even without a trade, they should get back Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, Dellin Betances, and Luis Severino from injury. Those comebacks alone should boost this team. Additionally, you know that Brian Cashman has a trick up his sleeve and is on the hunt for a frontline starter.

At the break, the Yankees are on pace for about 105 wins. It would be incredible if they reach that number given the numbers of injuries they have had, but they certainly will be in the position to achieve it.

 

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