MLB: The Elusive Prize, Yankees 2018

Imagining The Yankees When They’re Firing On All Cylinders

After two months of the season, a comparison between the Yankees won-loss record and the team’s individual stats do not equate. Which causes one to wonder what the Yankees could accomplish with the team when it is firing on all cylinders.

As this is written, the Yankees have the best record in baseball, a full twenty games over .500, and they’re playing at a clip of nearly .700, which brings back memories of the 1998 team that shattered the baseball world.

And yet, other than Gleyber Torres, the Yankees do not have a regular hitting .300 or better. What they do have though (check the stats here), is Gary Sanchez slightly over the Mendoza Line at .205, Didi Gregorius with one of the most memorable slides I can remember, from .340 in April and shot down in May to .245.  Add in a disappearing Tyler Austin (.222), and of course the elephant in the room, Giancarlo Stanton (.248), who is striking out at a rate of once in every three times he has an at-bat.

Austin Romine, leading the Yankees as a back-up.
Austin Romine, leading the Yankees as a back-up.

And get this, the Yankees backup catcher, Austine Romine leads the team in OPS and Slugging. Go figure, but these are the Yankees we’ve seen the first two months of the season, which is one that has all the makings of an epic year that will be remembered like 1998, 1961, and 1927.

On the pitching side, there is Luis Severino, who has cemented his name in the race for a Cy Young this year and for many seasons to come. The remainder of the staff, though, has struggled mightily, but none of them have cracked.

Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray have shown signs of life in their last few starts, with Gray, in particular, demonstrating control of himself . while CC Sabathia and Father Time has labored through all of his outings, and Jordan Montgomery is nowhere to be found.

How can this be? The answer, of course, lies within the bullpen where Aroldis Chapman has been faultless, even with his mysterious tendency to unleash wild pitches, Dellin Betances has recovered from unknown early season issues, while David Robertson and Chad Green continue to pile up the strikeouts.

Other than that, though, how good are these Yankees, and how have they managed to be the elite of major league baseball at this point in the season? The answer, of course, is sheer power. The Yankees pummel their opponent with home runs (first in baseball with 90) and runs scored (tied with Boston with 311). Translate this, and it means the Yankees are scoring nearly six runs a game.

All of which points to an interesting scenario if ever someone like Giancarlo Stanton gets hot. Or Gregorius rediscovers the magic of his early season start. Or, if Tanaka and Gray have genuinely emerged as starting pitchers to be reckoned with, and Jordan Montgomery returns to give the rotation some left-handed balance, and if CC Sabathia can hold on to give his aging body a chance to catch up with pitching know-how for a few more months.

But that’s nothing when you consider what could happen if Gary Sanchez awakens and starts to hit for the average he is capable of, and he refuses to tire from chasing balls to the backstop, along with the media attention this fallacy in his game deserves.

And what of Brett Gardner, who has raised his average to .263 in a matter of two weeks, and is also among the league leaders in walks, with 29 to support a .364 on-base percentage, and all the while playing a gritty left field for the Yankees?

Gleyber Torres, Welcome to the big leagues.
Gleyber Torres, Welcome to the big leagues.

Then, ask yourself the question, how high can Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar go? The Yankees will happily take where they are now, but neither shows any signs of being stagestruck by New York City, or the fact they are being counted on to help carry the Yankees to the World Series.

Add to all that the Yankees ace in the hole, Brian Cashman, who is already bent on improving the Yankees this year in the same way he has done for the past two seasons, and what you have is a conundrum that only the rest of the league can shudder at.

A word of sobriety, though, because even if everything clicks though, it all comes down to winning the AL East, which means beating out the Red Sox. Because if the Yankees win 105 games and the Sox win 106, the entire season is in jeopardy, with the one-game shootout looming as it did last season against the Twins.

The Yankees have already made a statement to the league while firing on only medium potential but to check the first box, a Division title, there is still plenty of work to do to get the team to the point where they are firing on all cylinders, and genuinely invincible.

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