A major trade from the weekend, which did not involved the Astros, became official on Monday.
On Monday, the New York Yankees officially acquired the 2017 NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, in a trade. The Miami Marlins’ new ownership group decided that they couldn’t keep Stanton, or rather, his expensive contract. It was essentially a salary dump by Miami that netted them Starlin Castro and two low-level prospects. This addition of Stanton to the Yankees has only cemented New York as one of the Astros’ top rivals for American League supremacy next year.
Yes, the Astros have rivals, namely the Indians and Yankees. Not historic rivals; just current day ones. That happens to be a byproduct of a contending ball club.
Despite the improvement that Stanton will undoubtedly bring to the Yankees’ lineup, the Astros shouldn’t be too concerned about their own standing in the American League. After all, the two teams only play each other only six times per season. Even when healthy, Stanton will have minimal effect on the Astros’ season unless something of particular importance is on the line. Home-field advantage in the postseason could be one. But certain events would have to transpire for Stanton to have notable sway on Houston’s fortunes. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, however, the odds have to be quite low. That said, another postseason series between the Astros and Yankees would allow Stanton a greater probability of ruining the team’s season.
In regard to the actual rosters, the Astros are still loaded with talent at nearly every position. The infield, in particular, is arguably the best in baseball. I’m sorry, New York, but Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman beats what you have right now.
Don’t believe me?
Well, you can check out the Depth Chart projections over at Fangraphs. Of course, projections are just that: projections. And the Yankees are currently projected to be better at catcher with Gary Sanchez along with the team’s being currently tied for first base fWAR (2.2). But it’s the other infield positions that the Astros obviously hold the advantage right now.
Again, the offseason can still change these projections. Keep an eye on New York’s front office as they sift through their third base situation.
The Astros’ outfield, led by George Springer, is one of the better units in the game. The Yankees have the edge though with Aaron Judge and now Stanton presumptively occupying the corner spots. That’s not a shocker. The Yankees’ outfield is quite good. If Judge can replicate his fantastic rookie season and Stanton can produce similar results from his 2017 MVP campaign, well, opposing pitchers won’t be able to rest. Or find peace. The Astros’ outfield, though, is no slouch, but it’s hard to match that Yankee outfield firepower.
The pitching staff for both teams by the Depth Chart projections appear to be relatively close.
For example, the Astros’ starting rotation is currently projected for a 16.1 fWAR. The Yankees’ starting rotation? 14.5 fWAR. Roughly one-and-a-half wins separate the two starting rotations. And that could change as both teams look to upgrade where they can this offseason.
In terms of the bullpen, the Yankees are projected to be the best with a 5.8 fWAR. Again. Quite frankly, it’s no surprise; however, the Astros’ bullpen is projected to be tied for second with a 4.4 fWAR based on the projections. The difference between the Astros and Yankees, again, is roughly a win-and-a-half. Stanton, as great as he is, cannot directly improve the pitching staff.
Side note: I’m curious to see what the projections will look like once Fangraphs fully integrates the ZiPS numbers from Dan Szymborski into the player profiles. The Depth Chart projections, like all projections, are not perfect. It may be worth doing a comparison after the off-season dust settles between Steamer, Depth Chart, ZiPS and PECOTA (Baseball Prospectus) projections.
If you jump over to the projected standings over at Fangraphs, the Astros are currently slated to win 97 games. That’s the best in baseball. The Yankees are currently projected to win 91 games. That projected total ties New York with the Red Sox and Nationals. In other news, the AL East is going to be top heavy next season.
If my recollection is accurate, the Yankees’ projected win total before the Stanton acquisition was 89 wins per Fangraphs. This means that the Stanton acquisition has added two wins to the Yankees’ total while trading Starlin Castro, who is projected to post an 1.1 fWAR next season. Castro posted a 1.9 fWAR in 2017 for what it’s worth.
SImply put, the Stanton trade didn’t make an immediate impact on the Astros. Houston is still projected to win 97 games per Fangraphs. And it’s not like the Astros reside in the AL East so the frequency of face time with Stanton will be low. In related news, please pray for the AL East. The aspect of this trade that could notably impact the Astros would be in the postseason. One powerful swing from a hitter like Stanton can change a game. A few powerful swings from him could change the course of an entire postseason series.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs**