Legends On Deck

Are The Yankees For Real?

I’ve watched every New York Yankees game this year waiting for the bubble to burst and so far they have played far beyond any expectations. As of Saturday prior to game time, the Yanks are currently in first place in the American League Eastern Division with a 35-23 record and currently lead the division by three games over the Boston Red Sox.

This team was not expected to win the division, compete maybe, but win the division, no way. Boston traded for Chris Sale, and the early predictions was that Boston would win the division and the Yankees would consider themselves lucky if they came in 3rd place at the end of the season.

Aaron Judge is having a monster 2017 season. (Photo: Gabe Rodriguez)

Their pitching staff was suspect as well as having a younger team. Aaron Judge had a terrible time when he was promoted to the big club last summer, after striking out over 50% of the time. While catcher Gary Sanchez had a great last two months of last season, almost winning the Rookie of the Year. Most predicted he would not repeat those stats where he had 20 home runs in the two months with a .299 average. Michael Pineda had a terrible season, CC Sabathia was so-so, Luis Severino also was bad, but doing better in the bullpen. The team didn’t hit many home runs, they were way down in scoring runs, Alex Rodriguez was forced off the team and ultimately into early retirement. First baseman Greg Bird was out with an injury all last season and the Yankees were hoping this season he would be able to take over at first base. With all of the question marks surrounding the team, you could see why there was no hope of the Yankees being able to compete this year.

This season, they started out losing 4 of their first 5 games and you thought okay lets enjoy watching the young players play and next year we would start to get better. Well so far next year is turning out be this year. Judge has become the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year and maybe an MVP candidate. His is batting .323, has 18 home runs, which leads the Majors and the team, 41 RBI which leads the team and OBP of .431, second behind Mike Trout. He has 47 runs scored, again leading the team and even though he has struck out 70 times, he has shown a very good eye at the plate, with most of his strikeouts looking. He also has been playing a solid right field, making numerous great catches. One other stat for Judge is that he leads the league in the hardest hit balls put in play with a single going 119.8 miles per hour. The Yankees have even created the Judge’s corner where fans sit in the right field stands dressed as judge’s. He is an exciting player to watch and appears to be the second all-star vote getter behind Michael Trout. It would also appear that he will represent the Yankees in the All Star Game and hopefully be in the home run derby.

They Yankees also have new rotation starter with left hander Jordan Montgomery, who with a 4-4 record in 11 starts and ERA under 4.00, has shown promise. Severino has been great, with a 4-2 record and a 2.90 ERA. Michael Pineda is a surprise, with a 7-3 record, and a 3.39 ERA and has been very consistent this year. CC Sabathia is 7-2 and has been the leader of the staff pitching like the ace he used to be. Masahiro Tanaka,  the actual ace of the staff is currently 5-7, and has been terrible but the Yankees are sticking with him hoping he turns it around.

Another bright spot is Aaron Hicks, who has been great. He is currently batting .318, hitting 10 home runs, 34 RBIs and playing great defense in centerfield. Starlin Castro has also played very well matching Hicks power numbers, also with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs.

As for the bullpen and without Chapman, who is on the disabled list, they have all held their own with Dellin Betances holding down the fort as the closer, recording five saves in his last seven appearances. Their have been some hiccups, but all in all this have been pretty good.

Now this could all change in the next month but as a Yankee fan, I am getting more than I bargained for and we still have Bird coming back from another injury, who could provide better defense at first base and a batter bat than Chris Carter has shown. Gary Sanchez, who spent a month on the disabled list and has hit eight home runs so far in 2017, is playing good defense and providing the needed power bat behind the plate.

So whether the Yankees are for real or not, they are playing winning baseball and for the rest of this month, I truly believe they will continue to be the real deal. I’ll worry about next month, and the rest of the season, as it comes. For now, myself and countless other Yankee fans are enjoying this great run.

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