It’s always World Series or Die for the Bronx Bombers and their devoted fandom. Can the velocity and hunger from a youthful lineup garner them another ring in 2019?
2018 Record: 100-62
2018 Finish: 2nd AL East
There really isn’t an offseason for Yankees fans. The hunger for another ring is more like the consistent pain one experiences at the start of a juice cleanse than a sudden hunger pain. When you’re a NY fan you expect to win. Every season. Period. If the pinstripes aren’t playing deep in fall the fandom considers the season a failure. Hate them for it all you want, they’ve grown accustomed to winning. 27 rings. They make you expect nothing but greatness.
2018 was no exception and while it ended with a painful loss to Yankees biggest rivals, they who shall not be named, there was a lot to celebrate.
Surprises in 2018
Bats, Bats and yes, more bats. Going into 2018 I don’t think most Yankees fans were expecting to set the MLB single-season Homer record, 267. I know, Yes, the strength and swing of our lineup was cause for excitement, but the way the season unfolded took most fans by surprise. Yankees bats also led them to finish 2nd in MLB runs, only lagging behind their hated east coast rivals and 2018 World Series Champs.
According to MLB Statcast, no team hit the ball harder, with an average exit velocity of 110 mph. The Yankees had 12 of the hardest balls in the league, 10 belonging single-handedly to slugger Stanton. His hardest hit ball was blasted into the outfield at 121.7 mph.
On the flip side, Yankees pitching rotation was also a pleasant surprise last season. New York had one of the hardest throwing rotations in the league. No other starter in MLB had a higher fastball velocity than Luis Severino.
Disappointments in 2018
For a team whose bats were on fire all season, there was still immense room for opportunity and improvement. In particular with Gary Sanchez, a player with immense talent who just couldn’t keep it going last season. Fans expected a lot from Sanchez going into the 2018 season. Instead, Yankees witnessed an inconsistent season performance from Sanchez. Here’s to hoping it was just one of those fluke seasons and his natural talent will be ready to slay in the upcoming season.
Sonny, Sonny, wherefore art thou Sonny Gray? Disappointing may not cover the performance from the young former Oakland star. He was consistently awful, but managed to sprinkle just enough hopeful appearances on the mound to make you think he might be turning his luck around. Who can forget his embarrassing showing against the Orioles? He gave up seven runs in just 2.2 innings. Needless to say, he wasn’t part of the regular rotation after that game. To see such a young talent lose his mojo is unfortunate. Maybe Gray will find it in Cinncinati, where he was traded this offseason.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Strengthening the bullpen was a goal for the Yankees Clubhouse and this offseason it appears they’ve done just that.
The Yankees may arguably have the best bullpen in the MLB heading in to 2019.
Thanks to the addition of Adam Ottavino it’s also gotten a little more braggadocious. The bravado of NY born former Rockies right-hander has already garnered a lot of NY press and not just for being the first Yankee in history to wear “0”.
Ottavino’s swag is on 100 and personally I can’t wait to see him in pinstripes this year. The 96 mph fastball hurler shared in a podcast interview that thanks to the beloved Babe’s diet of hotdogs and beer he feels confident he’d strike him out every time. Now, I love the Babe as much as any Yankees fan, but this kind of confidence is what I want from a player and I am looking forward to seeing him play in the Bronx in 2019.
The health of Yankees players is another key looking towards 2019.
There were a slew of surgeries in the off season and while keeping the guys in tip top shape is always a factor, there’s a lot to monitor heading in to the season. Sanchez had surgery on his left shoulder and if NY is lucky this could explain the 2018 slump.
We can’t forget Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ consistent champion. Didi is coming back from surgery on his throwing elbow. Fingers crossed he’s back to 2018 shape because NY needs him for their fight back to fall baseball.
In a shocking development, CC Sabathia was experiencing intense bouts of acid reflux and trouble sleeping during the offseason. He went in for a stress test and to everyone’s surprise he had a severe heart blockage that required surgery. The scare rattled the veteran pitcher. Fans are grateful doctors caught it early and are eager to celebrate the beloved Yankees final season.
Maple Meets Apple
Another addition to the clubhouse eager to give the team a boost is lefty pitcher James Paxton. The Canadian is stoked to be learning from fellow teammates like CC, who he called, “a salty vet who knows exactly what he’s doing out there.” If the Seattle pick up can stay healthy, he’s likely to fortify the bullpen. Also, what’s not to like about a Canadian Harry Potter fan who bald eagles are cool with. How rad is that? Plus, Paxton understands the pressure of playing in the Bronx and that’s something you can’t teach.
“I feel like playing with the Yankees, you’re expected to win,” Paxton said six days before pitchers and catchers are required to report for spring training. “It’s World Series or bust for Yankees fans, and I’m excited about having that pressure and being on a team that’s so committed to winning.”
Can 2019 make 28 rings?
The 2019 season has high expectations, but then again what year aren’t there high expectations for the New York Yankees? Pinstripes have been made stronger by new arms like Ottavino and Paxton and the veteran experience of players like Gardner (in my eyes, the best butt in baseball) and Sabathia.
If their bats and balls can have the same velocity as last year and their bodies can stay healthy; it’s hard to say that the Bombers won’t be playing in October. Last year’s youngest roster to don the pinstripes since the 90’s have now had a year together, and when we add in the new fresh faces spicing up the lineup, we have a team who’s hopefully clicking in all the right ways.
It’s my opinion, as we start up spring training the Yankees are gearing up for another season ending in bling.
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