New York Yankees 2018 Season Preview
For first-year manager Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees, this could be the first of several if not more spring training where there will be a bright spotlight shining on him and his team.
That’s because he’s not only managing one of the most well-known sports franchises on planet Earth, but he’s doing so amidst the highest expectations this team has had in almost a decade.
The headliner, of course, was New York’s acquisition of star hitter Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. Stanton has spent eight years dealing with a sub-optimal ownership dynamic and playing before small crowds in Miami. Now, he finds himself about a thousand miles up Interstate 95, penciled in the same batting order as Aaron Judge, who himself is considered to be one of the faces comprising the “future face of baseball,” after hitting 52 home runs as a rookie. Stanton goes from the 25th-most-generous home run park in the majors to the No. 2 yard.
New York Yankees 2018 – The year of the times
With Stanton in the lineup, it’s entirely possible we could see four different players in this lineup go for more than 30 home runs this year: Stanton, 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez (one season removed from being New York’s top rookie sensation), and Greg Bird.
Stanton led all of MLB in home runs (59) and RBI (132) while batting .281, and adds even more power to a team that led Major League Baseball in home runs last season. In 28 games hitting second last season, Judge had a .327/.465/.827 slash line with 13 homers in 98 at-bats. Right now, Boone is trying to figure out where he’s going to put his two gargantuan and powerful hitters in his lineup.
The Sanchez connection
Gary Sanchez is set to return as the starter at catcher after hitting a career-high 33 homers in 2017, giving him 53 in just 177 big league games. The left-handed bats of Bird and Didi Gregorius will keep opposing batting coaches awake at night. Before Sanchez’ breakout year in 2016, it was Bird who first opened up a lot eyes when he filled in for an injured Mark Teixeira in 2015. Bird was considered the best hitter in the Yankees organization in 2015, ahead of even Gary Sanchez.
The Bird’s flight
But unfortunately for Bird, he’s had to battle a number of injuries which has limited the number of games he played in. Bird has only played in 94 games since 2015, but has been extremely productive when he has played. Hitting a total of 20 home runs in only 304 at-bats, while driving in 59 runs.
The Yankees made the playoffs last season as a 91-win Wild Card team. But as anyone who follows baseball would know: when you have this type of talent assembled in the Bronx, just making the playoffs is not an option.
The focus is set for blast off
The Yankees now have their eyes set on taking back their supremacy in the American League East division, and wresting said control away from the hated Boston Red Sox. In order to get past their biggest rival, they’ll need their starting pitching to stay healthy and for their bullpen to be as effective as it was in 2017 when New York finished fifth in the MLB for team ERA (3.72).