MLB / american league

marcmalkoskie
The New York Yankees will win the 2019 World Series...here's 28 reasons why
By MARC MALKOSKIE While another season of America's greatest game is finally upon us, America's greatest sports team is on the verge of a champion-less decade for just the second time since the 1910s. Yes, I'm talking about the winningest sports franchise ever — The New York Yankees. Yes, they'll have 27 rings come November — plus one. Here are 28 reasons why the Bronx Bombers will win their 28th title in 2019 (no particular order): 1. Improved bullpen The 2018 Yankees had the MLB's best bullpen, with the highest WAR of the thirty teams (9.2). They also led in K/9 by almost a whole strikeout (11.40), and were also ranked third in FIP (3.33) and fourth in ERA (3.38). While veteran reliever David Robertson was lost to free agency (Phillies). While it's debatable if Adam Ottavino could strike out Babe Ruth like he stated in a December interview, the impact of his signing is not up for much debate. Number 0 ranked in the top 10 in both WAR and FIP among relievers who pitched at least 50 innings last season. Zack Britton, formerly known as Zach Britton, is also back in pinstripes, and will get to serve as another lefty option in the back end of the pen for a full season. 2. Boston's lack of a bullpen Red Sox relievers had the ninth most walks per nine innings last season (3.75), and lost setup man Joe Kelly and closer to the free agent market, or lack thereof. Many baseball websites have Boston’s projected 2019 win total as low as 90 or 91 mainly for the question mark that is its bullpen. 3. A bolstered rotation The Yankees’ starting pitchers ranked fourth in WAR (16.2) in 2018. Insert lefty James Paxton, who finished fifth in K/9 (11.68) among pitchers with 150 IP under their belt last year, and you have one of the three best rotations in baseball (Astros and Mets are also really good). 4. Gary Sanchez — AL Comeback Player of the Year It’s no secret the Yankees catcher had a historically bad season last year, batting just .186. Sanchez also swung at 32.3% of pitches he saw outside of the zone, connecting on just 55.7% of them. To his advantage, the Kraken worked with hall of famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez this offseason not only to repair his offensive woes, but to also work behind the plate blocking balls in hopes of cutting down on Sanchez’s number of past balls this season. 5. The best backup backstop in the show Due to Sanchez’s lingering hamstring injury last season, backup catcher Austin Romine caught in 76 games — just as many as Gary. The second-stringer didn’t disappoint, recording career-highs in homer runs (10), RBIs (42) and batting average (.244), good for a 1.3 WAR, the highest among catchers listed number two on the respective depth charts. 6. Giancarlo wants to hurt more baseballs Only two guys — Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion — have hit more home runs since 2012 than Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees slugger has 97 in the past two seasons, and led New York in games played (158) last season. If he stays healthy, he’s a lock for a third consecutive season of 35 HRs and 100 RBIs. 7. Judge might hit 40 deep balls — at home My goal in life is to find a girl that loves me half as much as Aaron Judge loves the short dimensions of Yankee Stadium. 54 of his 83 career roundtrippers have come in the Bronx, including 33 of his 52 in 2017. The scary thing is he could best 33 in 2019. 8. Luke is no fluke First baseman Luke Voit burst onto the scene for the Yankees after being traded from St. Louis in exchange for pitchers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos right before last year’s trade deadline. And to say he impressed would be a significant understatement. “King Louis” averaged a homer every 9.43 at-bats in his 39 games with the Yankees, a much more frequent quotient than one HR per 25 at-bats in 70 games with the Cardinals over the last two seasons. Perhaps even more important than his on-field abilities, Voit provided the spark of energy New York needed for two-and-a-half months last summer/fall. Look for him to carry both factors into his first full season in pinstripes. 9. Gleyber and Miggy — both better than Ohtani Miguel Andujar wasn’t the only Rookie of the Year snub last year. In my opinion, Gleyber Torres was also more deserving of the award than eventual winner Shohei Ohtani, especially considering the Japanese stud played in just 114 and pitched a little over 50 innings despite getting a reception as if he tossed a whole season. Regardless, the two rookie standouts on NYY, who combined for 51 HRs and 166 runs scored, will be very fun to watch in their sophomore campaigns. 10. Veteran leadership Even after Robertson’s departure for Philly, the Yankees still have two veterans returning from the 2009 World Series team — outfielder Brett Gardner and starting pitcher CC Sabathia. Both have served as unofficial captains in the clubhouse since 2014, and both likely have one more run at bringing another long-awaited title back to the city that never sleeps. Sabathia has already announced this season will be last, and Gardner wasn’t even expected to get offered the 1-year deal he accepted to stay with the only team of his long, underrated career back in November. 11. Win it for CC Only a handful of players come to mind when I try to think of recent players that had more respect from their peers than Carsten Charles Sabathia is within his Yankees clubhouse. If there was any doubt of this, Austin Romine’s postgame interview after Sabathia was ejected for standing up for him by intentionally plunking Rays catcher Wilson Ramos in his most previous regular season start — from which Sabathia will serve a five-game suspension for, starting with tomorrow’s game. The 38 year old workhorse is also has the most wins (246) among active pitchers, and has a legitimate stop at making it to Cooperstown down the road. 12. James Paxton — AJ Burnett a decade later? An overlooked piece to the 2009 championship run was starting pitcher AJ Burnett, who had just been signed as a free agent the offseason before, along with Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira. While Burnett’s 13-9 record and 4.04 ERA from that season won’t drop jaws, he still fit perfectly into his role of the number three pitcher behind Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, and showed up when it mattered most. Look for the same in Paxton following Luis Severino (once he’s healthy) and Masahiro Tanaka this season. 13. No Machado? No Problem Contrary to what several Bob Nightengale reports read, the Yankees were never true favorites in the Manny Machado sweepstakes. And they didn’t have to be. Rather than forking over $30 million annually for the Padres star, GM Brian Cashman looked elsewhere, scooping two former Rockies teammates — 2016 batting title winner DJ LeMahieu and 5-time all-star Troy Tulowitzki for a combined $12.5 million. Tulo, who was considered by many to be “washed-up,” went deep four times in just 33 spring training at-bats, enough to earn him the starting shortstop position on the Opening Day lineup card. 14. The Bronx faithful is hungrier than ever If you watched a single playoff game at Yankee Stadium the past two years, you could fill the intense playoff energy radiating from the 46,000+ fans in attendance for each game through your television set. Derek Jeter wasn’t telling a tall tale when he referred to Yankee fans as “the most faithful fans in the world.” 15. Bird might still have a word Like Sanchez, Greg Bird also had pungent 2018 season, batting just .199 and literally adding no value to his squad with a WAR of zero. But similar to Tulo, Bird turned heads this spring, reaching base safely in 28 of his 56 plate appearances, good for a .500 OBP and .333 batting average. 16. Tanaka will finish Top 5 in AL CY voting When the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka from the NPL in 2014, they were a significant risk. To this point, that risk has paid off, as the Itami native currently has a 64-34 career record and is sporting a respectable 3.59 ERA. That ERA will be lower after he goes 15-4 with a 3.12 ERA this year, which will be good enough for fifth in the AL Cy Young voting, trailing only Justin Verlander, Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and maybe Gerrit Cole. 17. Home-field advantage over Boston in the playoffs Mark my word. The Yankees will win the AL East. I also believe they will meet the wild-card-game-winning Red Sox in either the ALDS or ALCS, depending on whether New York can also beat out Houston in what will be a heavily-contested AL regular season pennant race. If the two archrivals do indeed square off in the postseason again, the Bombers will get to play three of five or four of seven games away from Fenway. 18. Sonny Gray is no longer a Yankee Sonny inched his way into Carl Pavano territory in the worst Yankees ever debate after posting horrendous numbers in 2018. I do think his struggles in New York directly paralleled with the big city atmosphere being too much on his nerves, and wish him the best of luck in small-market Cincinnati, where he honestly might thrive. 19. Bye bye Lance Lynn I simply have no answer why the Texas Rangers are paying this mess $30 million over the next three years, but as long as he’s not back in pinstripes, I’m fine with it. 20. Stephen Tarpley is the next next Zack Britton Tarpley only had a small sample size of nine innings in the big leagues last year, but had a 3.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts in that span. The 26 year-old was awarded the James P. Dawson award for best rookie player at Yankees spring training this year, which helped him earn the 25th Opening Day roster spot. 21. Didi will come back stronger than ever As another clubhouse leader in New York, when news broke in October that Didi Gregorius suffered a torn UCL and would miss at least half of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees staff were devastated. Just over five months later, Gregorius is already taking 100 dry swings each day and should return to full health soon after the All-Star break. 22. If injuries happen...depth won't be an issue This year’s squad is particularly deep. With a projected bench of LeMahieu, Romine, Bird, and newly-acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman, depth will not be an issue unless an unforeseen quantinty of injuries occurred. Three players who would be solid bench players anywhere else at the very least — Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury — yes, he’s still a person — are even starting the season of in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 23. Remember that time Boston played "New York, New York" in the locker room? As if the Yankees needed any more motivation to go win #28 this season…or even sweeter, eliminate their top foe along the way. Close your eyes and picture this: New York clinches a World Series berth in Game 5 of the ALCS in Boston…Aaron Judge and company exits the stadium with “Sweet Caroline” blaring through the boombox speakers. 24. Open door on back end of rotation Don’t be surprised if the end of the starting pitching rotation is a revolving door for the majority of the season. Between Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga, the number five rotation spot could be shared, even after Severino’s return if Sabathia doesn’t overperform. German locked down a rotation spot with a decent spring. Cessa looked like an ace on the mound in his three spring starts, allowing just two runs and 11 hits in 18.1 innings of work while fanning 19 batters. 25. Aaron Boone is coaching for his job Sounds crazy, right? I mean after all, the guy led his team to 100 regular season wins in his first season as manager. Well that’s great and all, but winning championships isn’t everything in the Bronx, it’s the only thing. Boone has to at least guide his squad to the World Series this year if he wants to stick around for the final year of his first coaching contract. 26. Team chemistry reminds me of a certain 2009 team... Few teams show chemistry as thick as the Bombers showcased in 2009. The core four, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia, Melky Cabrera, Robby Cano, you name it. That team had serious swag. Well, whether it’s the new witty “commercials,” home run celebrations or clever nicknames, last year’s squad started to display resemblances of the most recent champion team. All this offseason did was give the youthful Yanks more time to bond even more than before. 27. Jordan Montgomery is solid (when healthy) He might not be returning from Tommy John until August, but don’t forget what a specimen Montgomery showed us he was before his injury. The 26 year-old is 11-7 with a 3.84 in 35 career starts, and could make the postseason roster if he returns before the September 1 deadline and resumes where he left off in early 2018. 28. Severino has another year of postseason experience under his belt Let’s flash back to the 2017 wild card game. Luis Severino, then just 23 years old, exits in the first inning after giving up three earned runs, recording only one out. Not a good look. The following year, he gives four shutout innings on the same stage against Oakland. The following series, however, Sevy surrendered six runs in just three innings of work, and the Red Sox rout in New York, 16-1, to take the pivotal Game 3. Trust me, the Yankees ace will have been waiting a whole year to expend that bulletin board material come this October. Marc Malkoskie knows more about the New York Yankees than the average person. He plans on beating his record of 167 Yankees games watched this year. Follow him on Twitter at @mmalkoskie.
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marcmalkoskie
The New York Yankees will win the 2019 World Series...here's 28 reasons why
By MARC MALKOSKIE While another season of America's greatest game is finally upon us, America's greatest sports team is on the verge of a champion-less decade for just the second time since the 1910s. Yes, I'm talking about the winningest sports franchise ever — The New York Yankees. Yes, they'll have 27 rings come November — plus one. Here are 28 reasons why the Bronx Bombers will win their 28th title in 2019 (no particular order): 1. Improved bullpen The 2018 Yankees had the MLB's best bullpen, with the highest WAR of the thirty teams (9.2). They also led in K/9 by almost a whole strikeout (11.40), and were also ranked third in FIP (3.33) and fourth in ERA (3.38). While veteran reliever David Robertson was lost to free agency (Phillies). While it's debatable if Adam Ottavino could strike out Babe Ruth like he stated in a December interview, the impact of his signing is not up for much debate. Number 0 ranked in the top 10 in both WAR and FIP among relievers who pitched at least 50 innings last season. Zack Britton, formerly known as Zach Britton, is also back in pinstripes, and will get to serve as another lefty option in the back end of the pen for a full season. 2. Boston's lack of a bullpen Red Sox relievers had the ninth most walks per nine innings last season (3.75), and lost setup man Joe Kelly and closer to the free agent market, or lack thereof. Many baseball websites have Boston’s projected 2019 win total as low as 90 or 91 mainly for the question mark that is its bullpen. 3. A bolstered rotation The Yankees’ starting pitchers ranked fourth in WAR (16.2) in 2018. Insert lefty James Paxton, who finished fifth in K/9 (11.68) among pitchers with 150 IP under their belt last year, and you have one of the three best rotations in baseball (Astros and Mets are also really good). 4. Gary Sanchez — AL Comeback Player of the Year It’s no secret the Yankees catcher had a historically bad season last year, batting just .186. Sanchez also swung at 32.3% of pitches he saw outside of the zone, connecting on just 55.7% of them. To his advantage, the Kraken worked with hall of famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez this offseason not only to repair his offensive woes, but to also work behind the plate blocking balls in hopes of cutting down on Sanchez’s number of past balls this season. 5. The best backup backstop in the show Due to Sanchez’s lingering hamstring injury last season, backup catcher Austin Romine caught in 76 games — just as many as Gary. The second-stringer didn’t disappoint, recording career-highs in homer runs (10), RBIs (42) and batting average (.244), good for a 1.3 WAR, the highest among catchers listed number two on the respective depth charts. 6. Giancarlo wants to hurt more baseballs Only two guys — Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion — have hit more home runs since 2012 than Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees slugger has 97 in the past two seasons, and led New York in games played (158) last season. If he stays healthy, he’s a lock for a third consecutive season of 35 HRs and 100 RBIs. 7. Judge might hit 40 deep balls — at home My goal in life is to find a girl that loves me half as much as Aaron Judge loves the short dimensions of Yankee Stadium. 54 of his 83 career roundtrippers have come in the Bronx, including 33 of his 52 in 2017. The scary thing is he could best 33 in 2019. 8. Luke is no fluke First baseman Luke Voit burst onto the scene for the Yankees after being traded from St. Louis in exchange for pitchers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos right before last year’s trade deadline. And to say he impressed would be a significant understatement. “King Louis” averaged a homer every 9.43 at-bats in his 39 games with the Yankees, a much more frequent quotient than one HR per 25 at-bats in 70 games with the Cardinals over the last two seasons. Perhaps even more important than his on-field abilities, Voit provided the spark of energy New York needed for two-and-a-half months last summer/fall. Look for him to carry both factors into his first full season in pinstripes. 9. Gleyber and Miggy — both better than Ohtani Miguel Andujar wasn’t the only Rookie of the Year snub last year. In my opinion, Gleyber Torres was also more deserving of the award than eventual winner Shohei Ohtani, especially considering the Japanese stud played in just 114 and pitched a little over 50 innings despite getting a reception as if he tossed a whole season. Regardless, the two rookie standouts on NYY, who combined for 51 HRs and 166 runs scored, will be very fun to watch in their sophomore campaigns. 10. Veteran leadership Even after Robertson’s departure for Philly, the Yankees still have two veterans returning from the 2009 World Series team — outfielder Brett Gardner and starting pitcher CC Sabathia. Both have served as unofficial captains in the clubhouse since 2014, and both likely have one more run at bringing another long-awaited title back to the city that never sleeps. Sabathia has already announced this season will be last, and Gardner wasn’t even expected to get offered the 1-year deal he accepted to stay with the only team of his long, underrated career back in November. 11. Win it for CC Only a handful of players come to mind when I try to think of recent players that had more respect from their peers than Carsten Charles Sabathia is within his Yankees clubhouse. If there was any doubt of this, Austin Romine’s postgame interview after Sabathia was ejected for standing up for him by intentionally plunking Rays catcher Wilson Ramos in his most previous regular season start — from which Sabathia will serve a five-game suspension for, starting with tomorrow’s game. The 38 year old workhorse is also has the most wins (246) among active pitchers, and has a legitimate stop at making it to Cooperstown down the road. 12. James Paxton — AJ Burnett a decade later? An overlooked piece to the 2009 championship run was starting pitcher AJ Burnett, who had just been signed as a free agent the offseason before, along with Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira. While Burnett’s 13-9 record and 4.04 ERA from that season won’t drop jaws, he still fit perfectly into his role of the number three pitcher behind Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, and showed up when it mattered most. Look for the same in Paxton following Luis Severino (once he’s healthy) and Masahiro Tanaka this season. 13. No Machado? No Problem Contrary to what several Bob Nightengale reports read, the Yankees were never true favorites in the Manny Machado sweepstakes. And they didn’t have to be. Rather than forking over $30 million annually for the Padres star, GM Brian Cashman looked elsewhere, scooping two former Rockies teammates — 2016 batting title winner DJ LeMahieu and 5-time all-star Troy Tulowitzki for a combined $12.5 million. Tulo, who was considered by many to be “washed-up,” went deep four times in just 33 spring training at-bats, enough to earn him the starting shortstop position on the Opening Day lineup card. 14. The Bronx faithful is hungrier than ever If you watched a single playoff game at Yankee Stadium the past two years, you could fill the intense playoff energy radiating from the 46,000+ fans in attendance for each game through your television set. Derek Jeter wasn’t telling a tall tale when he referred to Yankee fans as “the most faithful fans in the world.” 15. Bird might still have a word Like Sanchez, Greg Bird also had pungent 2018 season, batting just .199 and literally adding no value to his squad with a WAR of zero. But similar to Tulo, Bird turned heads this spring, reaching base safely in 28 of his 56 plate appearances, good for a .500 OBP and .333 batting average. 16. Tanaka will finish Top 5 in AL CY voting When the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka from the NPL in 2014, they were a significant risk. To this point, that risk has paid off, as the Itami native currently has a 64-34 career record and is sporting a respectable 3.59 ERA. That ERA will be lower after he goes 15-4 with a 3.12 ERA this year, which will be good enough for fifth in the AL Cy Young voting, trailing only Justin Verlander, Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and maybe Gerrit Cole. 17. Home-field advantage over Boston in the playoffs Mark my word. The Yankees will win the AL East. I also believe they will meet the wild-card-game-winning Red Sox in either the ALDS or ALCS, depending on whether New York can also beat out Houston in what will be a heavily-contested AL regular season pennant race. If the two archrivals do indeed square off in the postseason again, the Bombers will get to play three of five or four of seven games away from Fenway. 18. Sonny Gray is no longer a Yankee Sonny inched his way into Carl Pavano territory in the worst Yankees ever debate after posting horrendous numbers in 2018. I do think his struggles in New York directly paralleled with the big city atmosphere being too much on his nerves, and wish him the best of luck in small-market Cincinnati, where he honestly might thrive. 19. Bye bye Lance Lynn I simply have no answer why the Texas Rangers are paying this mess $30 million over the next three years, but as long as he’s not back in pinstripes, I’m fine with it. 20. Stephen Tarpley is the next next Zack Britton Tarpley only had a small sample size of nine innings in the big leagues last year, but had a 3.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts in that span. The 26 year-old was awarded the James P. Dawson award for best rookie player at Yankees spring training this year, which helped him earn the 25th Opening Day roster spot. 21. Didi will come back stronger than ever As another clubhouse leader in New York, when news broke in October that Didi Gregorius suffered a torn UCL and would miss at least half of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees staff were devastated. Just over five months later, Gregorius is already taking 100 dry swings each day and should return to full health soon after the All-Star break. 22. If injuries happen...depth won't be an issue This year’s squad is particularly deep. With a projected bench of LeMahieu, Romine, Bird, and newly-acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman, depth will not be an issue unless an unforeseen quantinty of injuries occurred. Three players who would be solid bench players anywhere else at the very least — Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury — yes, he’s still a person — are even starting the season of in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 23. Remember that time Boston played "New York, New York" in the locker room? As if the Yankees needed any more motivation to go win #28 this season…or even sweeter, eliminate their top foe along the way. Close your eyes and picture this: New York clinches a World Series berth in Game 5 of the ALCS in Boston…Aaron Judge and company exits the stadium with “Sweet Caroline” blaring through the boombox speakers. 24. Open door on back end of rotation Don’t be surprised if the end of the starting pitching rotation is a revolving door for the majority of the season. Between Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga, the number five rotation spot could be shared, even after Severino’s return if Sabathia doesn’t overperform. German locked down a rotation spot with a decent spring. Cessa looked like an ace on the mound in his three spring starts, allowing just two runs and 11 hits in 18.1 innings of work while fanning 19 batters. 25. Aaron Boone is coaching for his job Sounds crazy, right? I mean after all, the guy led his team to 100 regular season wins in his first season as manager. Well that’s great and all, but winning championships isn’t everything in the Bronx, it’s the only thing. Boone has to at least guide his squad to the World Series this year if he wants to stick around for the final year of his first coaching contract. 26. Team chemistry reminds me of a certain 2009 team... Few teams show chemistry as thick as the Bombers showcased in 2009. The core four, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia, Melky Cabrera, Robby Cano, you name it. That team had serious swag. Well, whether it’s the new witty “commercials,” home run celebrations or clever nicknames, last year’s squad started to display resemblances of the most recent champion team. All this offseason did was give the youthful Yanks more time to bond even more than before. 27. Jordan Montgomery is solid (when healthy) He might not be returning from Tommy John until August, but don’t forget what a specimen Montgomery showed us he was before his injury. The 26 year-old is 11-7 with a 3.84 in 35 career starts, and could make the postseason roster if he returns before the September 1 deadline and resumes where he left off in early 2018. 28. Severino has another year of postseason experience under his belt Let’s flash back to the 2017 wild card game. Luis Severino, then just 23 years old, exits in the first inning after giving up three earned runs, recording only one out. Not a good look. The following year, he gives four shutout innings on the same stage against Oakland. The following series, however, Sevy surrendered six runs in just three innings of work, and the Red Sox rout in New York, 16-1, to take the pivotal Game 3. Trust me, the Yankees ace will have been waiting a whole year to expend that bulletin board material come this October. Marc Malkoskie knows more about the New York Yankees than the average person. He plans on beating his record of 167 Yankees games watched this year. Follow him on Twitter at @mmalkoskie.
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marcmalkoskie
The New York Yankees will win the 2019 World Series...here's 28 reasons why
By MARC MALKOSKIE While another season of America's greatest game is finally upon us, America's greatest sports team is on the verge of a champion-less decade for just the second time since the 1910s. Yes, I'm talking about the winningest sports franchise ever — The New York Yankees. Yes, they'll have 27 rings come November — plus one. Here are 28 reasons why the Bronx Bombers will win their 28th title in 2019 (no particular order): 1. Improved bullpen The 2018 Yankees had the MLB's best bullpen, with the highest WAR of the thirty teams (9.2). They also led in K/9 by almost a whole strikeout (11.40), and were also ranked third in FIP (3.33) and fourth in ERA (3.38). While veteran reliever David Robertson was lost to free agency (Phillies). While it's debatable if Adam Ottavino could strike out Babe Ruth like he stated in a December interview, the impact of his signing is not up for much debate. Number 0 ranked in the top 10 in both WAR and FIP among relievers who pitched at least 50 innings last season. Zack Britton, formerly known as Zach Britton, is also back in pinstripes, and will get to serve as another lefty option in the back end of the pen for a full season. 2. Boston's lack of a bullpen Red Sox relievers had the ninth most walks per nine innings last season (3.75), and lost setup man Joe Kelly and closer to the free agent market, or lack thereof. Many baseball websites have Boston’s projected 2019 win total as low as 90 or 91 mainly for the question mark that is its bullpen. 3. A bolstered rotation The Yankees’ starting pitchers ranked fourth in WAR (16.2) in 2018. Insert lefty James Paxton, who finished fifth in K/9 (11.68) among pitchers with 150 IP under their belt last year, and you have one of the three best rotations in baseball (Astros and Mets are also really good). 4. Gary Sanchez — AL Comeback Player of the Year It’s no secret the Yankees catcher had a historically bad season last year, batting just .186. Sanchez also swung at 32.3% of pitches he saw outside of the zone, connecting on just 55.7% of them. To his advantage, the Kraken worked with hall of famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez this offseason not only to repair his offensive woes, but to also work behind the plate blocking balls in hopes of cutting down on Sanchez’s number of past balls this season. 5. The best backup backstop in the show Due to Sanchez’s lingering hamstring injury last season, backup catcher Austin Romine caught in 76 games — just as many as Gary. The second-stringer didn’t disappoint, recording career-highs in homer runs (10), RBIs (42) and batting average (.244), good for a 1.3 WAR, the highest among catchers listed number two on the respective depth charts. 6. Giancarlo wants to hurt more baseballs Only two guys — Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion — have hit more home runs since 2012 than Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees slugger has 97 in the past two seasons, and led New York in games played (158) last season. If he stays healthy, he’s a lock for a third consecutive season of 35 HRs and 100 RBIs. 7. Judge might hit 40 deep balls — at home My goal in life is to find a girl that loves me half as much as Aaron Judge loves the short dimensions of Yankee Stadium. 54 of his 83 career roundtrippers have come in the Bronx, including 33 of his 52 in 2017. The scary thing is he could best 33 in 2019. 8. Luke is no fluke First baseman Luke Voit burst onto the scene for the Yankees after being traded from St. Louis in exchange for pitchers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos right before last year’s trade deadline. And to say he impressed would be a significant understatement. “King Louis” averaged a homer every 9.43 at-bats in his 39 games with the Yankees, a much more frequent quotient than one HR per 25 at-bats in 70 games with the Cardinals over the last two seasons. Perhaps even more important than his on-field abilities, Voit provided the spark of energy New York needed for two-and-a-half months last summer/fall. Look for him to carry both factors into his first full season in pinstripes. 9. Gleyber and Miggy — both better than Ohtani Miguel Andujar wasn’t the only Rookie of the Year snub last year. In my opinion, Gleyber Torres was also more deserving of the award than eventual winner Shohei Ohtani, especially considering the Japanese stud played in just 114 and pitched a little over 50 innings despite getting a reception as if he tossed a whole season. Regardless, the two rookie standouts on NYY, who combined for 51 HRs and 166 runs scored, will be very fun to watch in their sophomore campaigns. 10. Veteran leadership Even after Robertson’s departure for Philly, the Yankees still have two veterans returning from the 2009 World Series team — outfielder Brett Gardner and starting pitcher CC Sabathia. Both have served as unofficial captains in the clubhouse since 2014, and both likely have one more run at bringing another long-awaited title back to the city that never sleeps. Sabathia has already announced this season will be last, and Gardner wasn’t even expected to get offered the 1-year deal he accepted to stay with the only team of his long, underrated career back in November. 11. Win it for CC Only a handful of players come to mind when I try to think of recent players that had more respect from their peers than Carsten Charles Sabathia is within his Yankees clubhouse. If there was any doubt of this, Austin Romine’s postgame interview after Sabathia was ejected for standing up for him by intentionally plunking Rays catcher Wilson Ramos in his most previous regular season start — from which Sabathia will serve a five-game suspension for, starting with tomorrow’s game. The 38 year old workhorse is also has the most wins (246) among active pitchers, and has a legitimate stop at making it to Cooperstown down the road. 12. James Paxton — AJ Burnett a decade later? An overlooked piece to the 2009 championship run was starting pitcher AJ Burnett, who had just been signed as a free agent the offseason before, along with Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira. While Burnett’s 13-9 record and 4.04 ERA from that season won’t drop jaws, he still fit perfectly into his role of the number three pitcher behind Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, and showed up when it mattered most. Look for the same in Paxton following Luis Severino (once he’s healthy) and Masahiro Tanaka this season. 13. No Machado? No Problem Contrary to what several Bob Nightengale reports read, the Yankees were never true favorites in the Manny Machado sweepstakes. And they didn’t have to be. Rather than forking over $30 million annually for the Padres star, GM Brian Cashman looked elsewhere, scooping two former Rockies teammates — 2016 batting title winner DJ LeMahieu and 5-time all-star Troy Tulowitzki for a combined $12.5 million. Tulo, who was considered by many to be “washed-up,” went deep four times in just 33 spring training at-bats, enough to earn him the starting shortstop position on the Opening Day lineup card. 14. The Bronx faithful is hungrier than ever If you watched a single playoff game at Yankee Stadium the past two years, you could fill the intense playoff energy radiating from the 46,000+ fans in attendance for each game through your television set. Derek Jeter wasn’t telling a tall tale when he referred to Yankee fans as “the most faithful fans in the world.” 15. Bird might still have a word Like Sanchez, Greg Bird also had pungent 2018 season, batting just .199 and literally adding no value to his squad with a WAR of zero. But similar to Tulo, Bird turned heads this spring, reaching base safely in 28 of his 56 plate appearances, good for a .500 OBP and .333 batting average. 16. Tanaka will finish Top 5 in AL CY voting When the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka from the NPL in 2014, they were a significant risk. To this point, that risk has paid off, as the Itami native currently has a 64-34 career record and is sporting a respectable 3.59 ERA. That ERA will be lower after he goes 15-4 with a 3.12 ERA this year, which will be good enough for fifth in the AL Cy Young voting, trailing only Justin Verlander, Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and maybe Gerrit Cole. 17. Home-field advantage over Boston in the playoffs Mark my word. The Yankees will win the AL East. I also believe they will meet the wild-card-game-winning Red Sox in either the ALDS or ALCS, depending on whether New York can also beat out Houston in what will be a heavily-contested AL regular season pennant race. If the two archrivals do indeed square off in the postseason again, the Bombers will get to play three of five or four of seven games away from Fenway. 18. Sonny Gray is no longer a Yankee Sonny inched his way into Carl Pavano territory in the worst Yankees ever debate after posting horrendous numbers in 2018. I do think his struggles in New York directly paralleled with the big city atmosphere being too much on his nerves, and wish him the best of luck in small-market Cincinnati, where he honestly might thrive. 19. Bye bye Lance Lynn I simply have no answer why the Texas Rangers are paying this mess $30 million over the next three years, but as long as he’s not back in pinstripes, I’m fine with it. 20. Stephen Tarpley is the next next Zack Britton Tarpley only had a small sample size of nine innings in the big leagues last year, but had a 3.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts in that span. The 26 year-old was awarded the James P. Dawson award for best rookie player at Yankees spring training this year, which helped him earn the 25th Opening Day roster spot. 21. Didi will come back stronger than ever As another clubhouse leader in New York, when news broke in October that Didi Gregorius suffered a torn UCL and would miss at least half of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees staff were devastated. Just over five months later, Gregorius is already taking 100 dry swings each day and should return to full health soon after the All-Star break. 22. If injuries happen...depth won't be an issue This year’s squad is particularly deep. With a projected bench of LeMahieu, Romine, Bird, and newly-acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman, depth will not be an issue unless an unforeseen quantinty of injuries occurred. Three players who would be solid bench players anywhere else at the very least — Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury — yes, he’s still a person — are even starting the season of in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 23. Remember that time Boston played "New York, New York" in the locker room? As if the Yankees needed any more motivation to go win #28 this season…or even sweeter, eliminate their top foe along the way. Close your eyes and picture this: New York clinches a World Series berth in Game 5 of the ALCS in Boston…Aaron Judge and company exits the stadium with “Sweet Caroline” blaring through the boombox speakers. 24. Open door on back end of rotation Don’t be surprised if the end of the starting pitching rotation is a revolving door for the majority of the season. Between Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga, the number five rotation spot could be shared, even after Severino’s return if Sabathia doesn’t overperform. German locked down a rotation spot with a decent spring. Cessa looked like an ace on the mound in his three spring starts, allowing just two runs and 11 hits in 18.1 innings of work while fanning 19 batters. 25. Aaron Boone is coaching for his job Sounds crazy, right? I mean after all, the guy led his team to 100 regular season wins in his first season as manager. Well that’s great and all, but winning championships isn’t everything in the Bronx, it’s the only thing. Boone has to at least guide his squad to the World Series this year if he wants to stick around for the final year of his first coaching contract. 26. Team chemistry reminds me of a certain 2009 team... Few teams show chemistry as thick as the Bombers showcased in 2009. The core four, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia, Melky Cabrera, Robby Cano, you name it. That team had serious swag. Well, whether it’s the new witty “commercials,” home run celebrations or clever nicknames, last year’s squad started to display resemblances of the most recent champion team. All this offseason did was give the youthful Yanks more time to bond even more than before. 27. Jordan Montgomery is solid (when healthy) He might not be returning from Tommy John until August, but don’t forget what a specimen Montgomery showed us he was before his injury. The 26 year-old is 11-7 with a 3.84 in 35 career starts, and could make the postseason roster if he returns before the September 1 deadline and resumes where he left off in early 2018. 28. Severino has another year of postseason experience under his belt Let’s flash back to the 2017 wild card game. Luis Severino, then just 23 years old, exits in the first inning after giving up three earned runs, recording only one out. Not a good look. The following year, he gives four shutout innings on the same stage against Oakland. The following series, however, Sevy surrendered six runs in just three innings of work, and the Red Sox rout in New York, 16-1, to take the pivotal Game 3. Trust me, the Yankees ace will have been waiting a whole year to expend that bulletin board material come this October. Marc Malkoskie knows more about the New York Yankees than the average person. He plans on beating his record of 167 Yankees games watched this year. Follow him on Twitter at @mmalkoskie.
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