Big stars and bigger names dominate the New York Yankees, but which players are overvalued and which ones are undervalued?
As the 2020 season approaches, New York Yankees fans will tend to express opinions about players. This is the usual way of the offseason; fans make statements about a player, people debate the player and a conclusion is reached about the player.
Fans also love to take a hard look at some players who might have been misjudged. Keep in mind, an overvalued player doesn’t mean they are bad; it means the general consensus believes the player is better than what reality produces. An undervalued player doesn’t mean they are stars that people don’t pay attention to; it means they are better than people think they are.
It’s time for the overvalued-undervalued game, Yankees edition.
Miguel Andujar has been a heavily debated player this offseason. With questions around a potential position change, his health and if he’d even be on the team in 2020, he’s gone through a lot of analysis.
Andujar produced great offensive results in 2018, with a 130 wRC+. However, as I’ve written before, it’s questionable if that production is sustainable. The fans tend to just believe he’d be able to repeat that success and don’t really question his bat.
They also expect his defense to magically improve at times. His -21 DRS was one of the worst clips in all of baseball, which takes a lot to improve. For him, to get to even a league-average rate would be surprising. Andujar is not as good as people make him out to be. At the very least, right now, he isn’t.
I like Zack Britton a lot. He, like Andujar, had great results in 2019, with a 1.91 ERA. However, his FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and pCRA are all considerably lower than that. Why? He walks a lot of people.
He has consistently overperformed his peripheral stats in his career because of his ability to get a ground ball. However, as he ages that’s something to look out for. His command will need to improve as his velocity and movement start to fade.
Some have called Britton the Yankees best reliever. That’s just not true, he’s just not as good as Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green or Tommy Kahnle. He relies heavily on his defense and that’s difficult to control. He’s good, but to call him an elite reliever can be misleading.
Gleyber Torres is a good baseball player who is going to be a superstar. A common error when evaluating youngsters happens when thinking about what they’ll become, rather than what they currently are. Torres, right now, is a very good player.
He put forth a 3.9 rWAR, 125 wRC+, and a .358 wOBA. His xwOBA wasn’t as high but that’s because he probably hit more home runs than he should have. Torres’s defense left a lot to be desired in 2019. His -12 DRS was not good and he was worth a negative baserunning value, according to FanGraphs.
All this means is that he has room to grow, which is OK. He’s only 23 years old and has all the tools to be great. He’s not there right now, but he will be. His future evaluation of a player doesn’t make him better right now; it just means he will get better.
All the players that are undervalued by the fans are going to have one thing in common: they were hurt in 2019. Fans tend to forget about how good a player is when they don’t get to see them often. Giancarlo Stanton is one of those players.
No, he didn’t produce at his 2017 level in 2018, but even on a hurt leg, Stanton carried the Yankee offense in 2018. If the floor of a player is a 4.3 fWAR, .360 wOBA, and 129 wRC+, then that player is a stud.
Stanton has a career walk rate around 12 and hits the ball extremely hard, meaning he should project well going forward. This is an MVP level talent and could break out at any moment, yet fans want him gone. He is the second-best hitter on the team and it’s time to recognize that.
Aaron Hicks is undeniably one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. A player who at his peak could produce a 140 wRC+ and 6+ win season, is being paid an average annual value of $10 million. He can produce $48 million in value at his peak.
Yet, fans call his contract outlandish, stupid and a waste of money. Getting Hicks for 10 AAV is a total steal. Hicks is always going to have value at the plate because he has good power with an ability to work the count and get on base.
Like Stanton, he does hit the ball hard, which will translate well moving forward. The man who sacrificed months of his career to try and win a championship should be beloved by the fans.
People knocked Gary Sanchez for his defense while entering 2019, especially taking issue with how he blocks the ball and the passed balls he allows. Yet, in 2017, he had a positive FRAA and was considered a plus framer.
Yes, framing is the most important part of catching. In order to silence his critics, he sacrificed his framing to be a better blocker. That hurt his defensive metrics and proves that you shouldn’t listen to the fans. He can be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, and if he hadn’t tanked in July, he probably would have had a great offensive season.
The fans call him fat and lazy, yet he worked to improve the part of the game fans constantly cited. He’s a top-three catcher in the game and the fans remain clueless on the subject (for the most part).
I hold nothing against any of the players who I think are overvalued. They are good players, just not as good as their public market value. Could they all be that good? Absolutely. Are the undervalued players the best on the team? Well, maybe. That’s not the point, however. The point is to recognize what makes great players great and that reality oftentimes doesn’t match up with public sentiment or value.