Yesterday we presented a best-case scenario for the Yankees, one that would net them 95 wins should everything break as we said it would.
But what’s the worst-case scenario for this group? The one where almost everything falls apart.
Let’s use the same idea we used in our previous piece of coming up with a collective Wins Above Replacement total for the team
Earlier this winter we asked fans for their collective biggest fears about the 2013 Yankees.
Let’s run through the impact that some of those would have if five of those fears came true.
The chart on the right shows the same numbers we ran through for the best-case scenario, except we made some changes to account for the following ...
Fear No. 1: The older players on the roster show their age or brittleness
This was the most common worry we encountered among Yankees fans. How did we handle it?
We cut the contributions of Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda in half, turning Pettitte from a projected 3-WAR pitcher into a 1.5-WAR pitcher and Kuroda from 4-WAR to 2-WAR.
We changed the 2.5 WAR we were going to assign Mariano Rivera to a 1.5.
We took the 2.5 WAR we gave in a best-case to Kevin Youkilis and made it 1.0.
We eliminated the positive contributions from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Ichiro Suzuki, and had them as replacement-level players.
Fear No. 2: CC isn’t CC
If you include the postseason, CC Sabathia has thrown nearly 1,500 innings over the last six seasons. That’s a hefty total, one that likely necessitated the elbow surgery he had this offseason.
A best-case scenario presumes that Sabathia returns to something resembling an All-Star pitcher.
A worst-case scenario means that 2012 (when Sabathia was worth 3.3 WAR, his lowest total since 2005) was the start of a performance decline.
We gave Sabathia half the value we gave him in our best-case scenario: 2.5 WAR.
Fear No. 3: Mark Teixeria and Curtis Granderson struggle in their injury recoveries
In 10 years of working on our baseball programming at ESPN, one of the most common things I’ve heard from our analysts is that forearm and wrist injuries don’t always heal quickly. The power that a hitter once had may not return right away.
If that’s the case, maybe there is good reason to be skittish about the chances of Teixeira and Granderson this season.
In our best-case scenario, we figured they’d combine for 5 Wins Above Replacement. I halved that for the purpose of worst-case evaluation.
Fear No. 4: The catching platoon fails
I’m sensing a lot of skepticism on Twitter about Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. In our best-case scenario, we made the two of them worth a combined 1.5 WAR.
In our worst-case scenario we wipe that away.
Fear No. 5: The new guys don’t work out
The Yankees are hoping to get something out of Juan Rivera, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Brennan Boesch.
Our feeling was that in a best-case scenario, Brian Cashman would bat .500 on those signings. We gave the group a collective 3 Wins Above Replacement.
In a worst-case scenario, we figured on the four contributing an average of a quarter-win each, or 1 WAR.
Additionally, we docked Michael Pineda the 1-WAR we gave him in a best-case.
What’s the worst-case scenario?
For everything else related to player value, we went with the same numbers from our best-case piece. In other words, Robinson Cano has another MVP-caliber season. Brett Gardner turns out to be fine. Ivan Nova and David Phelps make respectable contributions. And so forth.
Applying all of that, the Yankees collective total comes out to 24 Wins Above Replacement.
Over the last 10 seasons, 37 teams have accumulated from 22 to 26 Wins Above Replacement from their players.
The 37 teams averaged 75 wins for the season.
That enough to scare you, Yankees fans?