Cashman's Shiny New Toys

Andrew McCutchen, Brian Cashman, J.A. Happ, lance lynn, luke voit, Yankees, Zach Britton -

Cashman's Shiny New Toys

In Cash we Trust! Cash-god! The Cash-MAN!

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Brian Cashman has been long considered one of the best General Managers in the game of baseball if not all of sports. What he has been able to do over the last few years for the Yankees organization has been nothing short of impressive. The mini “rebuild” in the span of 2 trade deadlines has catapulted the organization out of the “sign all the best free agents in their 30’s and have the highest payroll every year” to actually developing and promoting from within and having one of the youngest, deepest cores of talent in the sport.

The Yankees are in win-now mode and that is evident from a flurry of under-the-radar trades that Cashman was able to pull off over the last few months. Let’s take a quick look at each of the key cogs Cashman added to hopefully fuel a deep playoff run for the Bronx Bombers.

Luke Voit

Not many Yankees fans could foresee the team NOT using one of Greg Bird and/or Tyler Austin as the primary 1st baseman through the stretch run into the playoffs. Here we are though, heading into the last handful of series in the 2018 season and Luke Voit is leading the charge at 1B for the New York Yankees.

Louis Linwood Voit has not only been one of the best hitters in all of baseball in August and September, but he has been THE hottest hitter of any that changed teams heading into the July 31st Trade Deadline.

On the season, Voit has very good numbers between his time with the Cardinals and the Yankees: .308/.372/.615 triple slash line with 9.3% BB%, 29.1% K%, .308 ISO and 8 HR’s in 86 plate appearances. This is not a perfect science by any means and not a good way to predict what could happen, however, extrapolating his current HR/RBI/R numbers to a full season (600 PA’s) is always a fun exercise. Based on his numbers through 86 PA’s, over a 600 PA season Voit would be looking at 55 HR’s, 125 RBI’s and 105 R’s!

What has fueled Voit’s emergence as, what seems to be, a premier young power hitter for the Yanks? A shortened stride that has led to much better quality of contact this year.

Voit has figured out how to trade ground balls for more line drives and flyballs (around 13% less ground balls in 2018) while simultaneously increasing his launch angle (around 4%) and keeping an elite average exit velocity of just above 91 mph.

Finally, decreasing the plate appearance threshold to 50… we see that Luke Voit is among some truly elite territory. Voit is in the top 12 in the league for xwOBA and xSLG around the likes of Mookie, J.D. Martinez, Trout, Carpenter, Votto, Cruz, Goldschmidt, Judge and… Billy McKinney!

J.A. Happ

It was evident to all Yankees fans that the single biggest need for the team heading into the trade deadline was starting pitching. The market for elite starters was very thin, however, so most of us knew the Yankees were targeting a mid-tier rotation option. The big argument between the Talkin’ Yanks crew was Cole Hamels vs J.A. Happ... 2 lefty veteran starters with some playoff experience to bring some stability to the rotation. While Cole Hamels has been arguably the best pitcher in the NL since he landed with the Cubs, J.A. Happ has been a phenomenal addition for the Yankees.

In 8 games started for the Yankees, Happ is 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 46.2 Innings pitched. In pinstripes so far, he has an 8.29 K/9, 1.74 BB/9 and a .244 BABIP so he is clearly doing some things right on the surface level.

Somewhat concerning though are the underlying metrics that show that he might be getting a bit lucky in regards to preventing runs. His HR/9 in those 8 games started is 1.54 and his left on base% is 93.1%. His career HR/9 is 1.12 so I am hoping he can start regressing positively towards his career numbers in that regard. Those numbers considered have resulted in a 4.45 FIP and 4.24 xFIP so Happ could really benefit from limiting the long ball going forward or else he may not see as much success in his next 8 games started as he has seen in his last 8.

Lance Lynn

The Yankees picked up Lance Lynn as well for some much-needed depth for the rotation as well as a long relief security blanket in the instance that he was not needed in the rotation. Well, Sonny Gray ended up pitching himself out of the rotation and Lynn was called upon to step in.

He came out of the gates FIRING with 3 great “appearances” for his first exposure in pinstripes (the first 4.1 innings pitched was in relief of Sonny Gray on 08/01). His last 5 games started have not been as impressive, with only 1 quality start over that span. Overall, Lynn has actually shown some great numbers in his brief time in pinstripes and proving to be a pretty solid buy-low player for Cashman.

In 7 games started for the Yankees, Lynn is 2-2 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 41.1 Innings pitched. To this point with the club, he has a 10.02 K/9, 2.18 BB/9 and a .367 BABIP so he is also, like Happ, doing some things right on the surface level. Where he differs from Happ, however, is that he is actually getting fairly unlucky and should have better numbers than his ERA suggests so far.

When looking into his sabermetrics, which attempts to analyze the results that the pitcher can truly control themselves (Strikeouts, Walks, HRs) we see that Lynn is currently sitting at a 2.29 FIP and 3.03 xFIP with the Yankees so far. This makes complete sense that his ERA estimators are much lower than his actual ERA, considering his Strikeout, Walk and HR numbers have been elite so far in his 41.1 innings pitched with the club so far.

Why does he have a 4.79 ERA and 1.35 WHIP then with those great strikeout, walk and HR numbers?

LOB%

BABIP

2018 with Yankees

63.9%

.367

Career

75.5%

.302

2018 League Average

72.9%

.294

 

To put it in layman's terms, Lynn has really done his part in controlling the things that he can control... but when the ball is put in play he has gotten fairly unlucky. This could be a combination of poor defense and bad luck, however, these things tend to normalize over larger sample sizes so let’s hope that Lynn’s Left on Base % and Batting Average on Balls In Play can be closer to his career numbers/league average numbers going forward for the yanks and we see an ERA closer to mid-low 3’s.

Zach Britton

We all remember the Cy Young candidate, 2016 version of Zach Britton: 67 innings of 0.54 ERA and 47 Saves. One of the best reliever seasons ever pitched… Britton dealt with major injuries all of last year and didn’t have his first major league appearance in 2018 for the Orioles until June 12th. From June 12th to the July trade deadline, Britton looked like a shell of his former self-compiling 15.2 innings pitched with a 7.47 K/9, 5.74 BB/9 and 3.45 ERA. Not horrible numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but also not what we’ve all come to expect out of Britton.

The Yankees acquired Britton hoping that they would get something resembling his 2016 self for their stretch run and bolstering a ridiculously strong and deep bullpen which has proved to be a recipe for deep playoff runs in the last few years. Let’s break down what they have got so far out of Zach “Anglada” Britton…

 

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BABIP

LOB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

w/ NYY

17.1

6.75

3.63

1.04

.260

75.5%

80.8%

4.15

4.72

3.69

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Strikeouts- not great
  • Walks are down a little bit!
  • Elite Ground Ball %

Compared to his career numbers, Britton is not having the season that most people would expect out of him, but he is clearly still working his way back from major injuries. His average Fastball velocity is pretty much right in line with his Career numbers at 94.9 mph this year, however, during his elite stretch from 2014-2016 he was over 95 mph with the main offering. He is also not getting the swing and misses that he was during the elite years, currently sitting on an 11.5% SwStr% when he was closer to around 16% then.

All things considered, I still believe he will continue to get better as the season progresses and he will continue to regain his form. He has been very reliable with Chapman on the DL recently and it would be tough to say where this bullpen would be if we had not acquired him at the deadline. If and when Chapman returns, this bullpen could line up to be one of the most dominant weapons any team has heading into the playoffs and the trade could really pay off. Let’s see if all the pieces fall in line!

Andrew McCutchen

We all wondered why the Yankees didn’t pull the trigger on an Outfielder closer to the trade deadline knowing that Judge would be out for a while and that we were running out the likes of Shane Robinson and Neil Walker in RF with Giancarlo hobbled and Clint still out… The truth was, however, the Giants didn’t make McCutchen available until the Yankees ended up trading for him on the 8/31 waiver deadline. The move made all too much sense though and McCutchen has filled the void that Judge left admirably.

I’ll be pretty brief here since this is a 47 plate appearance sample size, but in my opinion, we really were looking for a few key things out of Cutch: defense and on base percentage.

He is currently running a .404 OBP with the Yankees so far, mostly appearing in the top 3 spots in the lineup. Overall, he is running out a 124 wRC+ and .354 wOBA in his time with the Yankees so the offense has been a plus.

I don’t have a lot of faith in defensive metrics, especially over small sample sizes, however to me (and most Yankees fans) he has definitely passed the eye test as a very viable RF defensively so far…

I think we are all happy with what he’s brought to this club so far and will continue to bring going forward. It is much better looking at the lineup daily with his name penciled in rather than Shane Robinson. When Judge returns we will have a lethal lineup now that Gary and Didi are also back. Boone will have a plethora of weapons to work with on a nightly basis here soon and I commend Cashman’s work over the last few months in acquiring chips to fuel that deep playoff run. Here’s to number 28!

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***Stats from Fangraphs.com, Baseballsavant.com


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