📌 Join the BPCrew Chapter in your city and meet up with more Yankees fans! 👉 CLICK HERE

2020 Yankees projections: Infield

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2020 season is going to happen (knock on wood).  We are getting a 60 game season and that has some ramifications on the projections on all players.

The cardinal rule of statistical projections is that the larger the sample size, the easier it is to project outcomes.  We are going from 162 games to 60 games and that opens up the door to some crazy end of season stat-lines.  Another factor that is in play is weather.  During a normal season, the first month is played in April where a plurality of games are played in less than ideal weather.  Instead, we will be starting the season in the middle of the summer which means balls are more likely to fly farther.  There’s a very real possibility that we will see a ton of elevated batter’s statistics and that will come at the expense of the pitcher’s end of season statistics.

Let’s take a look at some the current projections from ZiPS for Yankee infielders. Please note that the adjusted ZiPS projection assumes each player will play all 60 games this season which is highly unlikely:

Gleyber Torres 152 622 160 26 1 41 94 115 7 0.287 0.348 0.557 0.905 4.7
DJ LeMahieu 142 633 169 28 3 17 94 75 6 0.293 0.345 0.44 0.786 3.6
Gary Sanchez 110 467 101 18 1 32 67 93 1 0.244 0.323 0.524 0.847 2.9
Giovanny Urshela 137 502 133 27 0 19 66 71 1 0.282 0.319 0.461 0.779 2.3
Luke Voit 127 499 115 20 2 23 69 74 0 0.266 0.361 0.480 0.841 2.2
Adjusted for 60 Games ZiPS
Gleyber Torres 60 246 63 10 0 16 37 45 3 0.287 0.348 0.557 0.905 1.9
DJ LeMahieu 60 250 71 12 1 7 40 32 3 0.293 0.345 0.440 0.786 1.5
Gary Sanchez 60 184 55 10 1 17 37 51 1 0.244 0.323 0.524 0.847 1.6
Giovanny Urshela 60 198 58 12 0 8 29 31 0 0.282 0.319 0.461 0.779 1.0
Luke Voit 60 197 54 9 1 11 33 35 0 0.266 0.361 0.480 0.841 1.0

Gleyber Torres

In the data above, ZiPS see’s Gleyber’s 2019 as for real.  In a regular 162 game season they had him hitting 41 home runs a year after hitting 38.  Overall, his triple-slash and RBI totals would traditionally put him in the MVP conversation.

In 60 games, he could hit 16 home runs to go with 45 RBIs.  Prior to last season, I would have doubted Gleyber could produce power and RBI totals like that in a 60 game stretch but for the 2020 season I think it is completely possible and might even lean towards him besting those totals.  There is some danger though due to the fact that teams will play 40 of the 60 games vs division opponents.  Torres mashed against the Red Sox and Orioles carrying a batting line of .306/.366/.569 and .394/.467/1.045 respectively.

However, his lines against the Rays and Blue Jays were .207/.292/.293 and .217/.333/.413 so depending on how that trend continues will determine how Torres shows out in 2020.

DJ LeMahieu

Wow.  ZiPS is not giving any love to Le Machine.  A .293/.345/.440 slash line after putting up a .327/.375/.518 is just ridiculous.  A 60 game season allows an opportunity to see multiple players hit .400 this year.  If you were to put together a list of players that would do that, LeMahieu would be one of the players on that list.  I think we can reasonably expect LeMahieu to hit .330 or better just because the guy doesn’t have extended cold streaks.

If we want to argue whether he will put up similar power numbers this year in a shorted season, that is a debate worth having.  ZiPS has him hitting 7 home runs but I could see him getting to 10 home runs by the end of the year.  Power isn’t DJ’s job though.  He will hit at the top of the order, put the ball in play, and get on base for the big boppers like Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez.

Gary Sanchez

In my opinion, Gary Sanchez is the hardest player to project for a 60 game season.  Since he came up for good with the Yankees in 2016, Sanchez has been a player of streaks.  His end of year numbers is usually above average but he gets there with a series of hot and cold streaks.  When he is on a heater, he’s one of the best hitters in the game. When he is slumping, he can look like a pitcher in the batter’s box.

ZiPS projects a .244 batting average for Sanchez, and that sounds about right.  They also project him to hit 17 home runs and like Torres, it wouldn’t surprise me if he topped that projection.  Coincidently, in 2016 we have a 53 game sample where Sanchez absolutely went off to the tune of 20 home runs and 42 RBIs while hitting .299/.376/.657.  Could he duplicate his rookie year?  It’s possible but that .299 batting average seems unlikely.

The other factor for Sanchez is the amount of games played.  Since he is a catcher, it’s hard to know how many games he will be playing.  DH is an option but the Yankees have a number of players they would like to have taking those at-bats.  Best case scenario, the Yankees have Sanchez catch 50 games but I’m not too confident that will happen.

Gio Urshela

The breakout star for the 2019 Yankees is getting a bit of regression factored into his 2020 projections.  His power and run production numbers look to be in line with last year but ZiPS doesn’t think he is a true .314 hitter.

His current projection for batting average of .289 isn’t bad, but Urshela doesn’t walk to have a good on base percentage without a high batting average.  In 60 games, it’s conceivable that Gio gets hot and hits .330 but the bigger issue is we can’t be sure that his 2019 was for real.  He’s still only 28 and right in the prime of his career, so maybe 2019 was when the switch flip and he figured out how to be an above average hitter.  Having said that, if Gio goes out there and hits .289 with double-digit home runs while playing stellar defense, we would all take that.

Luke Voit

Luke Voit was the threat of the Yankees lineup before he got hurt last year.  Through the team’s first 81 games, he hit .280/.393/.509 and helped stabilize the offense along with Torres and LeMahieu.  ZiPS basically has him repeating his slash-line from last year with slightly more power over the course of a full season.

Over the course of 60 games, he’s projected to hit .266/.361/.480 with 11 home runs.  I think he could finish with more like 15 home runs and an OPS closer to .900 similar to his first half numbers from 2019.  Voit will benefit from his ability to plug into the lineup every day at first base.  Along with LeMahieu and Torres, I think Voit is a candidate to play all 60 games for the 2020 season.

Final Projections?

We took a look at what ZiPS had projected for the Yankees but what do we really think the Yankees’ infield is going to do in 2020?

Here is what I think is going to happen and we all should hope that it does:

Gleyber Torres 55 223 54 12 0 16 43 49 2 0.291 0.357 0.564 0.921
DJ LeMahieu 58 239 75 11 1 10 46 32 1 0.341 0.393 0.532 0.925
Gary Sanchez 42 173 39 10 0 18 35 55 1 0.248 0.337 0.637 0.974
Giovanny Urshela 50 204 59 10 0 8 33 37 1 0.304 0.341 0.479 0.820
Luke Voit 53 216 54 10 0 13 37 43 0 0.280 0.361 0.530 0.891

Keep in mind, these are my OPTIMISTIC projections.  Anything can happen in a 60 game season but I’m hoping that the best results come for the Yankee’s infield and they can produce a magical streak during that the 2020 season.

Be sure to check out our predictions for the starting rotation here.