2017 was a bit of a revival for the New York Yankees. After finishing fourth in the A.L. East in 2016 and well out of a playoff picture with a 78-84 record, they returned to the playoffs with a 91-71 record. Good for second in the division behind the Boston Red Sox.
Riding the momentum of a 20-8 month of September, the Yankees took the Houston Astros to seven games in the ALCS, knocking on the door of their first World Series in nearly a decade. This renaissance for the Yankees was due in large part to the youth movement they have experienced the last couple seasons.
MLB 30 in 30 Series
- 30 in 30: Boston Red Sox
- 30 in 30: New York Yankees
- 30 in 30: Milwaukee Brewers
- 30 in 30: Chicago Cubs
- 30 in 30: Los Angeles Dodgers
Leading the youth movement was Aaron Judge (age 25) and Gary Sanchez (age 24). The two combined to slug 85 home runs and drive in 204 runs. The duo helped lead the second-best offense in the Majors, behind only the Houston Astros. On the mound, 23-year-old Luis Severino went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts to lead the rotation. In addition, number two pitcher, Mashiro Tanaka, struck out a career-high 194 batters. However, he did also have a career-worst, 4.74 ERA.
Despite Success of 2017, Major Changes Came for 2018
Many would consider the 2017 season a success for the Yankees. Especially considering their fourth-place finish the year before. However, the Yankees brass felt it needed a new voice in leading the locker room.
Following the season, the team decided to move on from manager, Joe Girardi. Girardi led the Yankees out of the Joe Torre era and helped lead the Yankees to their first World Series in nearly a decade in 2009. Now, they turn to another former Yankee to help guide them into this new era.
Aaron Boone, who famously launched the Yankees into the 2003 World Series with his Game 7 walk-off home run against the Red Sox was hired out of the broadcast booth in the offseason. Similar to plucking Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth to coach the Raiders. However, the difference is that Boone has no managerial experience to lean on. Gruden, on the other hand, does. That’s not to say that the role of an MLB Manager is as important as an NFL Head Coach.
Boone’s Former Teammate Throws Him a Bone
Not long after Boone dawned the Yankees’ pinstripes for the first time since he retired, a former teammate and Yankee legend helped make his first year managing a whole lot easier.
Derek Jeter, a five-time World Series Champion with the Yankees, led a group in purchasing the Miami Marlins. One of their first tasks was to unload their best hitter and one of the best hitters in the entire league—Giancarlo Stanton.
After consecutive injury-riddled seasons in 2015 and 2016, Stanton played 159 games in 2017 with a career-high 692 plate appearances. Given the new found durability, Stanton produced. The 28-year old slugger led the Majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBI’s. His .631 slugging position led the league as well. In addition, his 1.007 OPS was another career high. Now, he will bring that power and hit in between Sanchez and Judge.
Projected Starting Lineup
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Aaron Judge
- DH Giancarlo Stanton
- C Gary Sanchez
- SS Didi Gregorius
- CF Aaron Hicks
- 1B Greg Bird
- 2B Neil Walker
- 3B Brandon Drury
The addition of Stanton gives the Yankees one of the deadliest lineups in the Majors with the potential to be historically great. The trio of Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton combined to hit 144 home runs in 2017. Or in other words, more than the entire San Francisco Giants team in 2017.
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The Yankees lineup depth doesn’t stop at those three. At one time, Greg Bird ranked as a higher prospect than Judge and Sanchez. The team now hopes to see him fulfill some of that potential after a strong postseason for the Bombers. Didi Gregorius was third on the Yankees last year with 25 home runs and 87 RBI’s. His .287 average was second on the team only to Starlin Castro’s .300 average. Needless to say, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if this team easily leads the league in runs scored.
Potential Achilles Heel? The Starting Pitching
As great as the Yankees lineup is, they can only go as far as their rotation carries them. They benefitted last season from incredible health. Their top four starters all started at least 27 games with two (Severino, Tanaka) starting more than 30. The team will greatly rely on Severino duplicating his performance from a year ago. In addition, they hope that Tanaka can turn back the clock to his first season in Pinstripes when he pitched to a sub 3.00 ERA.
Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, attempted to upgrade the rotation in the offseason but settled on bringing back C.C Sabathia. At age 36, Sabathia went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA and 120 strikeouts. However, it’s fair to wonder if he can come close to that mark again at age 37.
As for the bullpen, it rivals what they have in the lineup… eye-popping talent. Aroldis Chapman will once again close games for the Yanks. Chapman picked up 22 saves last season for the team and struck out 69 batters in 50.1 innings. This year, the Yankees have a bevy of talent coming out of the pen before even getting to Chapman. Most notably, righties Chad Green and Dellin Betances. David Robertson, Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, and Tommy Kahnle round out the rest of the projected bullpen.
How Does it all Shake Out?
The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry has been dormant for a number of years now. And rightfully so. Old legends have left and each team has suffered through some lean years in the last decade. However, we may be witnessing the beginning of an all-new era of the best rivalry in baseball.
It starts with the managers. Both Boone and new Red Sox Manager, Alex Cora, were members of their respective teams as players at the height of the most recent rivalry between the two clubs. In addition, both clubs feature a slew of young homegrown talent supplemented with some of the games best players.
The Red Sox have won back-to-back A.L. East division crowns and look poised to win a third with the addition of Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez in consecutive offseasons. This is despite the Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton. However, from the onset, this looks to be a dogfight until the very end with each team poised to win over 90 games. And possibly closer to the century mark.
Record: 93-69 (2nd in the A.L. East)
First Wildcard Spot