2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: New York Yankees

Yankees to target and avoid this draft season.

The 2023 Yankee season can be summed up with Gerrit Cole winning the Cy Young Award and Aaron Judge continuing to be a force despite an extended stint on the IL with a toe sprain thanks to a concrete slab at the base of the wall in Dodger Stadium. Otherwise, you didn’t really miss a whole lot if you avoided this team. They finished with an 82-80 record, their worst winning percentage since 1992, the year Judge was born.

Their offensive woes were astonishingly bad, too; they finished 25th in runs scored, and their .304 team OBP was ahead of only the Royals, A’s, and White Sox. However, the addition of Juan Soto changes everything; he and Judge should be an entertaining tandem to watch. How the rest of the lineup performs, though, is a legitimate question.




Anthony Volpe


2023 stats (601 PA): .209 AVG, 62 R, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 24 SB

Volpe became the first Yankee rookie with 20 HR and 20 steals. Sure, the rule change helped, but still, that’s not a bad way to start an MLB career. And, hey, he won a Gold Glove, too.

Now, here comes the ugly part: a .209/.283/.383 slash.

However, we saw a couple of improvements in the second half of the season. For one, he dropped his K rate from 28.9% to 26.3%.

He also made better swing decisions as the season went on. Breaking pitches can be tough for rookies to manage, but Volpe seemed to get better at recognizing them which probably helped shrink his K rate.

But his ability to make contact against fastballs didn’t improve a whole lot and still ended well below average; that’s definitely something to be aware of.

Last year was a mixed bag. Volpe ended with above-average grades in SZ Judgement (55), Decision Value (55), and Power (55). But his contact ability (45) is still a question mark. We saw some improvements in the second half, but I can’t gloss over his contact deficits against fastballs; that’s definitely a little worrisome.

Still, Volpe’s power and speed upside is readily apparent provided he improves his rate stats. Truthfully, I don’t think the Yankees have a surefire leadoff hitter on their roster. Aaron Boone started Volpe in the leadoff spot for 29 games last year, reiterating how badly they struggled to generate offense. Regardless, I get the sense they want Volpe to be their leadoff hitter, given his blend of athleticism and power. But he’ll have to earn it. The pie-in-the-sky scenario is him as the leadoff hitter in front of Judge and Soto with maybe a shot at a 30-30 season. Volpe is currently the 15th SS off the board with an NFBC ADP (10/1/23 through 1/10/24) of 135.7.

In the meantime, we’ll probably see D.J. LeMahieu assume that role, at least early on. The newly acquired Alex Verdugo is another possibility, too. Edit: I somehow forgot Gleyber Torres, who was the Yankees’ second-best bat, hitting .273 with a .800 OPS while also striking out a career-low 14.6%. He started 33 games last year as the leadoff hitter. LeMahieu started 58 games at leadoff.

Speaking of LeMahieu, he’s at least worth mentioning as a value pick, more so in deep leagues, given his less-than-exciting skill set. Still, if the Yankee offense ticks back up, he might provide some value as an accumulator, maybe something like what Yuli Gurriel did with the Astros in 2021. Patrick Connors recently detailed LeMahieu’s up-and-down 2023 season. 


Nestor Cortes


2023 stats (63.1 IP): 4.97 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 67 K, 5 W

The past two seasons have been night and day for Cortes. The number one thing is that he’s cleared the rotator cuff strain that shelved him for good last August. Aaron Boone said that Cortes began a throwing program on December 4th, so he should be good to go for next spring.

That leaves us to decipher last year’s near 5.00 ERA. He might’ve pitched through pain at some point, but really, I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure.

What you should know about Cortes, though, is that despite the poor results, he still earned impressive grades on PLV. Take a look at his arsenal last year vs. 2022, and you’ll see it wasn’t all that different.










Oddly enough, he finished with a higher PLV last year than in 2022, the season he, you know, had a 2.44 ERA over 28 starts, which would’ve placed him ahead of Max Fried and behind Shohei Ohtani for seventh among qualified SPs.

Granted, his K-BB% declined slightly (20.3% to 17.7%), and that’s usually not what we’re looking for. But PLV is indicating that he’s a really good buy low.

A key reason Cortes thrived in 2022 was because of the induced vertical break of his fastball, which was well into the upper tier at 19.5″. IVB is a great skill to have for whiffs, and Nestor’s remained intact last year (19.0″). His Adjusted Vertical approach angle (VAA) of 1.2 is another good marker and that was identical to 2022.

If you’re wondering about Carlos Rodón as a potential buy-back, at the very least, his fastball shape last year in terms of IVB and VAA was similar to 2022, which is a good sign. Admittedly, Rodón has more strikeout upside than Cortes, but given that they’re both coming off an injury, I’d rather target the one who is going later, which looks to be Cortes. Nasty Nestor’s NFBC ADP is 293, whereas Rodón’s ADP is 176.

Anthony Rizzo

2023 stats (421 PA): .244 AVG, 45 R, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 0 SB

It might be easy to forget that Rizzo hit .303 with 11 home runs through May 27th (52 games). But then he had a head-on collision with Fernando Tatís Jr.’s right hip on a pickoff attempt. Rizzo then proceeded to hit .170 with one home run through June and July (45 games). In this case, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

This was very strange, to say the least, because I think plenty of fans were convinced that he was clearly out of sorts, and yet the Yankees continued to roll him out. Whatever the case may have been for the delay, Rizzo was finally diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in early August and shut down for the season in early September. Most importantly, Aaron Boone recently indicated that he should be ready to go for spring. Considering he was clearly dealing with a traumatic injury, he makes a lot of sense as a buy-low. Rizzo is currently the 28th 1B off the board with an ADP of 297.



Giancarlo Stanton


2023 stats (415 PA): .191 AVG, 43 R, 24 HR, 60 RBI, 0 SB

I’m torn. This has to be a low point for Stanton, right? If so, then you could make the argument that he’s actually not a bad buy-low. He’s currently the 79th OF off the board in NFBC with an ADP of 372. At that point, why not? That’s not a bad price at all in a 15-team league, but in standard-sized leagues, Stanton’s bat might not cut it anymore.

At this point, we don’t have to rehash his injury history. Last year, Stanton’s injury came on April 15th in the form of a strained hamstring. He returned in late June, but if you caught any of the Yankee games, you’d know that watching him trying to score from second on a double, let alone a single, was agonizing, to put it nicely. Although, in fairness, he was more than likely never close to 100% and probably trying to guard against another leg injury.

This offseason, he’s striving to add athleticism. That’s great to hear, but I think at this point, we’ve no choice but to be highly skeptical. As Chris Kirschner wrote in The Athletic earlier this offseason, Stanton’s declining athleticism is doubly a concern because he has always hit a lot of groundballs. Once upon a time, he had enough speed to pick up the slack, but now, not so much, meaning he should continue to be a batting average drain after hitting .202 over his last 867 PA.

His performance against fastballs is also hard to overlook. Last year, he hit .201 against fastballs and had a 29.5% whiff rate; in 2022, those numbers were .207 and 32.5%. They’re the worst numbers he’s posted during the Statcast era. And he didn’t end last year on a good note, either.

Projections aren’t particularly keen either. Steamer has him slashing .231/ .269/ .313 with 28 HR, 58 R, and 68 RBI across 440 PA.

He also slashed an abysmal .162/ .263/ .376 with a 32.6% K rate against RHP last year. His .265/ .324/ .618 slash against LHP was more or less last year’s lone silver lining.

I don’t want to completely ignore Stanton’s upside. Perhaps he could do something like Marcell Ozuna did this past season with 35 HR and 100 RBI, albeit with a much lower BA. Maybe everything clicks, and Stanton pulls a rabbit out of his hat with a Comeback Player of the Year award. But I think the more likely scenario is that we’re seeing an oft-injured slugger who has hit the aging curve hard. In standard-sized leagues, Stanton might be a temporary plug-in for HR/RBI, but otherwise, there will probably end up being more enticing options worth chasing on the wire or late in the draft.



Clay Holmes


2023 stats (63 IP): 2.86 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 71 K, 24 SV

The Yankees have a top-heavy roster with Cole, Soto, and Judge at the top, and I don’t think any of them seem like bust candidates. Otherwise,  there aren’t a lot of options that could really hurt you at their ADP. I was tempted to consider Clarke Schmidt because his upside at this point kinda seems a little unexciting, given his 21.5% K rate, but I didn’t want to pick two players going really late.

That kind of leaves me to pick Holmes by default more because I prefer to either pay up for a closer with a longer track record or speculate late. Holmes has an ADP of 126 as the 54th pitcher off the board, so he’s in that weird middle-tier group. Relative to other closers, Holmes is behind Tanner Scott (51st pitcher) and ahead of Kenley Jansen (55) and Adbert Alzolay (57).

Holmes has done a pretty solid job all told, and that’s probably selling him short. His sinker returned a barrel rate and a ground ball rate in the 99th percentile or better last year. But as a sinkerballer, his strikeout rate is a bit lower (27.1% last year) relative to other closers, so he’s more liable to carry a higher WHIP.

Another thing to note about Holmes is that his sinker’s PLV actually declined last year a bit from 4.88 to 4.66. Does that matter a ton as far as predicting what happens next season? Maybe not, but, still, I’d like to see a better grade from the pitch he threw 69% of the time last year.

It’s also worth noting that Michael King got ten save opportunities last year, Wandy Peralta got seven, and Ron Marinaccio also got six. Granted, King isn’t here anymore, but the point is to say that we’ve seen Boone mix and match a bit. With Soto in tow for one year, expectations are sky-high after the team’s worst season in a long time, so that might mean Holmes might not have a long leash. Perhaps a few groundballs find holes, and Holmes doesn’t convert a couple of save opportunities. All of a sudden, we might be looking at a committee approach in the pen. All things considered, I think Holmes is a pretty solid pick, but there are ways it can go sideways, so he would be another fade for me.

Photos by Melissa Tamez, Kiyoshi Mio | Icon Sportswire| Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram

Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

One response to “2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: New York Yankees”

  1. Sasha Fletcher says:

    really liked this one, but a note that it doesn’t seem to show up under the sleepers and busts tag

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