New York Yankees Struggles are Fixable: Part I
After getting off to a blazing hot start in April and May, the New York Yankees by June 13 had a record of 31-20 while leading their divisional rival the Boston Red Sox by three games. Shortly after, however, injuries to key players, as well as a shaky bullpen that at times imploded, caused New York to slide in the standings. The Yankees dropped Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4, but bounced back on Saturday with a come-from-behind victory thanks to a Clint Frazier walk-off three-run home run. The New York Yankees struggles are fixable for the most part. It’s just a matter of getting healthy.
Youth Movement in Spring Training
The Yankees were a team that many analysts did not pay much attention to heading into the 2017 regular season for the simple fact that they weren’t expected to compete with the Red Sox for the division lead in the American League East. This was suppose to be a season in which the Yankees planned to incorporate a number of their young players, as well as some of their top prospects in what many called a “youth movement.”
Heading into Spring Training, the Yankees had a lot of unanswered questions in regards to their roster. There were position battles taking place at first base, right field, and the fourth and fifth spot in the starting rotation. In fact, the only area of the team where most baseball pundits agreed was their biggest strength was their bullpen, which was one of the best in MLB. Especially with veteran pitcher Tyler Clippard (1-5, 5.24) set to pitch the seventh inning, Dellin Betances (3-4, 3.18) moving back into the setup role that was owned by Andrew Miller the prior year and Aroldis Chapman (2-0, 3.66) who returned as the Yankees closer after helping the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years last season.
Originally Greg Bird and Tyler Austin were suppose to compete for the first base job heading into Spring Training, but Austin fractured his left ankle in February while taking batting practice, forcing the Yankees to sign former Brewers first baseman and last seasons National League home run leader, Chris Carter. The former Brewer wasn’t expected to compete for the job, but instead was signed more as an insurance policy should Bird get injured. Bird would go on to put up ridiculous numbers during spring training, hitting .444 in 45 at-bats while belting eight home runs, which tied him with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, giving Yankee fans something to look forward to come the regular season, while silencing any critic who thought he might be rusty after missing the entire 2016 season with a shoulder injury.
The right field position battle went down to the last week of spring training as the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks and the massive rookie Aaron Judge went hit-for-hit all spring. But it was the rookie who eventually won out, and at the time no one could’ve foreseen what lied ahead for the 6’8 rookie right-fielder. Through 83-games, Judge is third in the American League with a .330 batting average, first in slugging percentage with .697, first in home runs with 30 (passed Joe DiMaggio‘s franchise record of 29 for a rookie), first in RBI with 65, and first in runs scored with 75. Needless to say the Yankees rookie has taken the league by storm, winning Player of the Month for June, as well as Rookie of the Month for April, May, and June.
Stay tuned for part two, in which we take a look at the New York Yankees pitching.