New York Yankees: 2024 Projections for Top Yankee Hitters

Yankees Offense

While fans of the New York Yankees anxiously await the moves that Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman will make to improve the team for the 2024 season, Fangraphs is busy at work projecting what 2024 may look like for Yankees players. Projections are fun and interesting ways for fans to pass the offseason and prepare for the changes that 2024 will bring.

A prediction is what someone thinks will happen in the future, while a projection is a what-if scenario analysis of a future situation or trend based on the study of present ones. While no one can predict a Major League Baseball player’s future, given that they may become injured at any time, they can undoubtedly project what they can become.

Fangraphs offers ZiPS projections, Steamer Projections, and Depth Chart projections, which combine the two with playing time allocated by their staff. For the sake of argument, let’s look at Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projections for Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, and Anthony Volpe, four players who figure to play significant roles for the Yankees in 2024.

2023 was unkind to Aaron Judge, whose season was interrupted by his toe injury on June 6, 2023, when he ran into an unforgiving wall in Dodger Stadium. As a result, he played in 106 games, hit 37 home runs with a .267 batting average, 75 RBIs, and three stolen bases. He finished with a 1.019 OPS and a 5.3 WAR.

Certainly, without Judge, the Yankees’ offense struggled mightily. Despite missing a significant number of games in the middle of the season, Judge led the team in home runs, RBI, and OPS, and he did so by a lot. The next-best hitter on the team, Gleyber Torres, did not come close to matching Judge’s offensive production.

Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projects that Judge will hit .270 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 152 games. During the 152-game season, it is music to my ears; I am disappointed that the Captain is only projected to hit 45 home runs. Like many Yankee fans, I hope to see Judge return to his 2022 form, as unrealistic as that may be.

Like Judge, Anthony Rizzo’s 2023 campaign was marred by injury, although the circumstances were not nearly as straightforward as Judge’s. Rizzo was injured when Fernando Tatis, Jr. slammed into him on a pickoff lay at first base in late May. Rizzo was putting up career numbers offensively to that point, batting .327 with six home runs in May alone.

Rizzo is slated to bounce back in 2024, and recent reports are that he is feeling well and hitting with Judge’s personal hitting coach. Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projects that Rizzo will play 131 games in 2024 with a .242 batting average and 24 home runs. Rizzo, who has hit 32 home runs four times in his career, may just hit 33 this coming year if he profits from good health and good coaching.

Gleyber Torres had the kind of season that Yankee fans have been waiting for from him: consistent hitting and solid defensive play, not Gold Glove-level play, but respectable. In 2023, Torres played in 158 games and hit 25 home runs with a .273 batting average and 68 RBI. Torres fell just short of his career-high batting average (.278 in 2019), but nearly 20 points improved his offensive production over his 2022 numbers and was more consistent than in previous years.

In 2024, Fangraphs Depth Chart projects Torres to play in 149 games and hit 25 home runs with a .270 batting average. Yankee fans would sign up daily for these numbers from Torres to have a solid and consistent bat in the middle of the lineup, hitting for average.

Anthony Volpe had a rookie season that was the best and worst of times. Volpe won a Gold Glove for his elite defensive play at Shortstop; however, his offensive performance was off the mark as he struggled at the plate, especially in September when he hit only .160 with one home run. He appeared to run out of gas as the season wound down – no surprise, as he played in 158 games for the Yankees. He hit .209 on the season with 21 home runs and a team-high 24 stolen bases.

Unfortunately for Yankee fans, Fangraphs Depth Chart projects slight improvement offensively for the rookie in 2024. He is projected to hit .228 with 22 home runs in 143 games. This is disappointing as Yankee fans hope Volpe will hit more like his career minor league numbers where he hit .262 with 50 homes and 89 stolen bases in 1044 at-bats. He can improve his offensive performance; perhaps he needs more chicken Parmesan in 2024.

Yankee fans know that injuries derail seasons and careers. For the Yankees to succeed in 2024, whatever improvements are made to the roster between now and Spring Training, Judge, Rizzo, Torres, and Volpe must first remain healthy. Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projections give us a glimpse of what a healthy 2024 season would look like for them.

Yankee fans look toward 2024 to right the wrongs of 2023. Projections remind us of what has been, as they draw on past performance, but they point the way to the future. I found that the predictions for these players were, for the most part, very conservative and would hope, as I think all Yankee fans would, that the players highlighted outpace these projections. Championships are probably won by those who throw projections to the winds, but fans gathered around the hot stove love to crunch the numbers and look into the future on these cold winter days.

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