The New York Yankees offense is an interesting bunch. The group features immense levels of talent, but question marks pop up throughout the lineup in the form of injury and production concerns.

That said, where there’s bust potential, there also tends to be boom potential. This holds true for the Yankees offense as well.

The Yankees will bank on players remaining healthy this year, and if they do, the team could easily surpass what are seemingly modest win-total projections for the 2015 season.

So the Yankees offense presents us with two contrasting paths for the 2015 season. One could bring about their first playoff appearance since the 2012 season, while the other could drop the Yankees all the way to last place in the American League East.

With both scenarios set, let’s take an in-depth look at how both can come about and what results they might produce for 2015.


Worst-Case Scenario

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.

To be fair, there’s plenty of cause for concern with the Yankees. That projected roster I linked above is riddled with injury possibility.

Take a quick look at the Yankees projected lineup and their games-played totals over the last four years.

Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Headley, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran all have extensive injury histories (you can view those histories by clicking on their name and scrolling to the end of their Baseball Prospectus pages) and it’s totally fair to question whether or not these six players will be able to remain healthy over the course of the 2015 season.

If they don’t, there’s not a lot in the way of big league-ready minor league talent in the system. In fact, according to Bleacher Report’s Mike Rosenbaum, the only position players in his his top-10 rankings with ETAs during the 2015 season are Rob Refsnyder and Gary Sanchez.

Refsnyder could be called up to play outfield if the team finds themselves in dire straits, and depending on what point in the season he’s called upon, Sanchez could prove a viable option behind the plate.

Beyond that, though, things get a little cloudy.

If the Yankees lose Teixeira, Headley, Ellsbury or McCann, the season could go south in a hurry.

Carlos Beltran, in his age-38 season, is an ever-present injury concern, and his 2014 season could serve as a precursor for further decline as he nears the end of his stellar career.

Injury concerns aside, there’s reason to be concerned about the production the team will receive from the bottom three in that projected lineup, as well as Beltran. 

Rodriguez, Beltran and Drew are all coming off of seasons they’d rather soon forget.

Drew posted career-worst numbers across the board, and his 44 wRC+ last season was the worst among 263 players with at least 300 at-bats last season. Beltran clocked in with a much more respectable mark of 95 (just five points below average) but his advanced age could bring about further decline.

Rodriguez is arguably the biggest question mark in the lineup. The 39-year-old was serviceable when he last played, but that was back in 2013.

The possibility of injury, along with the uncertainty surrounding many of the team’s main contributors, could prove a disaster for the Yankees. Providing some combination both, the Yankees could suffer through another year of mediocrity and production fitting for a team near the bottom third of the league.

Assuming this scenario holds true, the Yankees will likely fail to reach that 80-82 record PECOTA predicted for them.


Best-Case Scenario

Where there’s legitimate reason to fret over the Yankees offense, there’s also some room for optimism. After all, the Yankees are healthyfor now.

So long as the team stays healthy, there’s plenty of room for them to surpass those modest win projections we talked about early. Providing the team stays moderately healthy, they’ll benefit greatly from a full season of Headley, Teixeira, McCann and Beltran.

Consider those four players and their ZiPS projections for the 2015 season:

These are solid seasons the ZiPS model has projected for Headley, Teixeira, McCann and Beltran. All four are projected for double-digit home run totals, and, aside from Headley, all of them are projected to exceed their WAR totals from the 2014 season.

Last year, Teixeira, McCann and Beltran managed seasons worth just 0.8 WAR, 2.3 WAR and -0.5 WAR, respectively, per Their projected improvements for 2015 should go a long way toward bolstering the team’s overall output, but they aren’t the only concerns.

At the bottom of the order, it’s tough to figure out what to expect from the combination of Gregorius and Drew.

With Drew, it’s pretty safe to say that he can’t possibly be as bad as he was last season. We highlighted his disappointing 2014 effort up top, and fortunately, in 2015, his ZiPS projections show a much-improved yet still very flawed player.

Per, the ZiPS model has Drew projected for a .211/.285/.360 batting line with nine home runs, 18 doubles, 40 RBI, 36 runs scored and 0.8 WAR. It’s not a good season, but it’s certainly much better than last year.

Realistically, Drew should still surpass those projections if he displays even a glimpse of his former self. Prior to being sent to Oakland, between 2006 and 2011, Drew averaged a .270/.330/.442 triple slash and, per-162 games, averaged 16 home runs, 12 triples, 38 doubles, 71 RBI and 84 runs scored. 

If I were a betting man, I’d put the 2015 version of Drew somewhere right in between his ZiPS projections, and his 2006-2011 averages. That makes for roughly a .240/.305/.400 batting line and a solidly average second baseman.

At short, Gregorius is entering his age-25 season, and his confidence is as high as ever. The young shortstop spoke with Bleacher Report earlier this month and told Mike Rosenbaum that “I’m just going to relax and play the game right and be the best I can be whenever I go out there. Don’t worry about anything else; just go game by game.”

Calm, cool and collected, Gregorius will be looking to fill some rather large shoes at shortstop, but if his demeanor is any indication, he appears to be up to the task.

Gardner and Ellsbury are much smaller question marks, and entering their age-31 seasons, they should find themselves in prime position to continue leading the offense.

That brings us to the biggest question mark of them all: A-Rod.

After a year on the shelf after a PED suspension, Rodriguez has a lot to prove. And at 39 years old, that may prove easier said than done.

Rodriguez struggled against inside fastballs during his limited 2013 showing, and age, combined with numerous injuries could cause him to struggle with those same pitches again in 2015.

That said, Rodriguez is making a strong statement with his play this spring. Over 21 plate appearances, Rodriguez owns a .353/.476/.588 slash line with a homer, a double, two RBI, a run scored and a 3-4 K/BB ratio. 

If Rodriguez hits and is able to produce anything close to what he did in 2012, he’ll help to make the offense a formidable one in the AL East.

When everything comes together, the Yankees could be one of the top-five offenses in the American League. This, combined with what looks like a rather strong starting rotation, could make the Yankees a viable candidate for one of the two American League wild-card spots.


All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Advanced stats via

Tyler Duma is a Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TylerDuma.

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