Advice to New York Yankees fans: Bring a hard hat with you to batting practice next season. Perhaps consider wearing a full suit of armor?
After already featuring arguably baseball's best pure power hitter in Aaron Judge, the Yankees on Monday announced a trade for the game's arguably second-best, Giancarlo Stanton. They become only the second team in baseball history to begin a season with two defending 50-plus-homer hitters, joining another historic Yankee team: The 1962 squad that had Roger Maris (61 in 1961) and Mickey Mantle (54).
Debate if you wish which between Judge and Stanton has greater raw power: Judge led the majors in average fly-ball distance (332.3 feet), average exit velocity (94.9 mph, per Statcast), average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (100.2 mph), barrels (87) and barrels per plate appearance (12.8 percent) and was second in home runs (52) and isolated power (.343) last season. Stanton led in home runs (59), isolated power (.350), home-run rate (8.5 percent) and "No doubts" home runs (24) and was second in average home-run distance (418.3 feet), average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (99.8 mph) and barrels (76). Barrels, incidentally, are Statcast's metric counting batted balls with an optimal combination of exit velocity and launch angle. "No doubts" home runs are ESPN Home Run Tracker's metric counting homers that cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet and landed at least 50 feet past the fence.
Any way you slice it, they're both pretty darned powerful.
Stanton's fantasy value isn't necessarily improved by his donning pinstripes. His power was so immense it could play in any of the 30 big-league ballparks, as evidenced, again by ESPN's Home Run Tracker, that 35 of his 59 homers would've cleared the fence in all 30 big-league ballparks, while another 12 would've been out of at least 25 of the 30 parks. Yankee Stadium does, however, represent a significant ballpark upgrade for him, and that will raise his power floor -- for fantasy, that will make him a safer investment in terms of his chances at repeating his 59 homers (or a comparable per-PA rate in the games he gives you). In short, it makes me feel a heck of a lot better about my No. 11 overall ranking of him, even if it doesn't move the number.
In its nine years of existence, New York's Yankee Stadium has never finished lower than ninth in terms of home run factor on our Park Factors page -- those are single-year metrics -- or 1.128 in terms of the specific factor, and along with Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park and Colorado's Coors Field, it is one of only three venues to rank among the top 10 in that category in every year since 2009. While Yankee Stadium has a reputation for being a great venue for left-handed power (and also shows its most noticeable park-measurement differences compared to Miami's Marlins Park in the right-center and right-field areas), in the past five seasons combined, Yankee Stadium had the second-highest right-handed home run factor (1.288, behind only Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park's 1.312, with these my own calculations following the Park Factor formula), compared to Marlins Park's 27th-ranked 0.848.
There is no doubt that the ballpark switch alone helps, primarily because Stanton is plenty capable of driving the ball to all fields: His 11 opposite-field home runs last season tied for sixth in the majors. Judge, by the way, ranked second with 17.
The other area that won't improve much with the trade is Stanton's injury history. In New York and the American League, he'll now have the safety net of the designated hitter spot, which elicits the age-old "that'll help keep him healthier" reply from many in the fantasy community. It's unclear, though, how the Yankees will strategize position-wise between Stanton, Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury in their outfield and at DH. Stanton and Judge have played almost exclusively right field as pros, and Stanton's defensive metrics (10 defensive runs saved, 0.4 defensive wins above replacement) were slightly better than Judge's (9 DRS, 0.3 dWAR) last season, but the team could go with some sort of rotation between the corner outfield and DH spots, keeping Stanton in the field a good amount.
In addition, four of Stanton's past five long-term injuries (three resulting in DL stints, the fourth coming in September when such a roster move was unnecessary) occurred on events that weren't on defense: He suffered a hamstring injury in July 2012 while running out an infield grounder, facial fractures and a laceration in September 2014 when he was hit in the face by a pitch, a broken left hand in June 2015 while swinging at a pitch, and a groin injury in August 2016 while trying to stretch a single into a double. Any of these could've happened had Stanton been serving as a DH, and that he missed 125 of 809 Marlins games, or 15 percent, in the five years (2012-16) that preceded his 2017 season of career highs in games played (159) and plate appearances (692) shouldn't be forgotten.
The biggest impacts in this deal are actually things that don't specifically involve Stanton. Again, he clutters an already-cluttered outfield, casting a degree of playing-time doubt on the six aforementioned names (Stanton included), but almost entirely adversely affecting Ellsbury's, Frazier's and Hicks' plate appearances in that order. Ellsbury, who probably won't even be with the team come Opening Day, drops to only a bench player/injury fill-in who is barely even draft-worthy in AL-only leagues. Frazier might have to settle for another year in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, again serving an injury fill-in with minimal AL-only value. Hicks, a regular for the Yankees in the 2017 postseason and whom general manager Brian Cashman declared a projected regular for the 2018 team, now might see enough of a cut in PAs that he's not a mixed-league value. Expect 400 PAs from Hicks for now, keeping him out of my top 80 outfielders.
Stanton also boosts the Yankees' overall lineup strength, since he'll replace primarily the PAs occupied by players like Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier, while the departure of Starlin Castro to Miami in this trade thrusts Ronald Torreyes into the lineup with Gleyber Torres a strong candidate to grab the second-base job instead. The Yankees ranked second in baseball with an average of 5.30 runs per game and led with 241 home runs in 2017, and their odds of repeating or improving both are good. This team should turn the lineup over as often as anyone -- that's a boost in fantasy in terms of volume for their players -- and their individuals' RBIs and runs scored numbers will improve slightly as well. The lineup order will ultimately dictate who benefits in those categories, as a Gardner-Judge-Stanton-Gary Sanchez-Didi Gregorius top five could mean a huge RBI benefit for Sanchez and especially Gregorius, and the top three could all be locks for 100-plus runs with Judge a candidate for the league lead.
Rankings-wise, that won't move any of those individuals up significantly -- my ranks won't change for them until we get a firmer read on the specific order, if even then. But this makes them stronger picks in their rounds and perhaps guys for whom to reach a round sooner in drafts or toss an extra buck at in auction formats.
Torres is the most interesting individual name affected by this deal, however. The Yankees' -- and perhaps all of baseball's -- clear No. 1 prospect, he now stands a much better chance at capturing an everyday role come Opening Day. A .287/.383/.480 hitter combined in Double-A and Triple-A but limited to 55 games because of injury last season, Torres combines decent pop with plus speed, and if not for Shohei Ohtani, might soar to the top of the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year favorites list. Torres will probably be tasked with winning the job outright in spring training and might start the year in the minors for more seasoning after his 2017 missed time. But he could provide a .270-ish batting average, 10-12 home runs and 25-steal speed if given regular PAs. I've moved Torres up to 23rd among shortstops and within my top 250 overall with news of the trade, which is in the same general range as players like Dansby Swanson, Tim Beckham and Amed Rosario, but his upside is better than all three.
The Yankees' gain, unfortunately, comes at the Marlins' expense. Stanton's departure -- coupled with the Dee Gordon trade earlier in the week -- dramatically lowers their lineup potency. This offense that ranked 11th in runs per game last season (4.80) could now plummet into the bottom 10, or worse yet, the bottom five. It's bad news from an RBIs and runs scored perspective for important fantasy names like Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Justin Bour and Castro.
Castro's fantasy value suffers most, as the move to Marlins Park significantly decreases his power potential as well. In the past two seasons combined, he hit 25 of his 37 home runs at Yankee Stadium. He moves down 14 spots in my rankings overall, behind Jose Peraza, to become my No. 18 second baseman as a result.