ZiPs: Tanaka good for 3 or 4 extra wins ...

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23

Now that Masahiro Tanaka is in pinstripes, what are your expectations for the 2014 Yankees?


Discuss (Total votes: 19,489)

... but, according to Dan Szymborski, and his ZiPs machine, the Yankees need more than that to become a playoff team. Before they got Tanaka, Szymborski and his fancy computer had the Yankees as a likely 82-win team.

With ZiPs assigning Tanaka's WAR at 3.8, the Yankees would still be on the outside looking in come October.

In the end, after simulating the 2014 season a million times (assuming current roster construction), the pre-Tanaka Yankees won the division 7.2 percent of the time, made the playoffs either through a division championship or a wild card 19.7 percent of the time, and won the World Series in 1.7 percent of the million simulations. Adding Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann helps the team, but only really cancels out the loss of Robinson Cano -- it doesn't fix the team's other holes. The only question is just how much Tanaka moves the needle.

Tanaka's projections in New York are solid, but the problem for the Yankees is that Tanaka is unlikely to be a true superstar, someone like Clayton Kershaw, who can actually add six to 10 wins to a team.

His projected 3.8 WAR represents a three to four-win upgrade for the Yankees, with his innings likely to displace some combination of innings thrown by David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno and a few others, projected to be somewhere between around 1.0 WAR.

Running the simulation a second time, with the Tanaka boost now built-in, the outlook for the Yankees improves, but not to the degree that it thrusts the franchise back into the first tier of playoff contenders. The Tanaka Yankees simulate to an 83-80 average finish, which keeps them behind every other AL East team other than Baltimore, and gives them a 12.0 percent shot at the division, 29.4 percent playoff odds and 2.6 percent odds of winning the World Series.

To put the probabilities a different way, Tanaka improves the Yankees' chances to win the AL East by only 4.8 percentage points, claim a wild card by only 9.7 percentage points, and win the World Series by less than 1 percentage point.

Tanaka's likely to succeed in the majors, but he doesn't fix the Yankees by himself.

QUESTION: Are the Yankees a playoff team now or not?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »



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Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146