2020 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PREVIEW: NEW YORK YANKEES
MANAGER: AARON BOONE
2019 RECORD: 103-59
FIVE YEAR WINNING TREND:
Winning World Championships is all the Yankees care about. They missed a golden opportunity in 2019. So they decided to do something about it in the off-season by signing the best pitcher in baseball, Garrett Cole to a record $324 million dollar contract. Cole joins an already strong rotation (when healthy) that includes James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino. Severino is out for the season after having surgery on his right elbow. The pitching staff can expect a lot of run scored with a line-up that features some of the best hiters in baseball from top to bottom. If the season happens, the Yankees are all set up to win the first title since 2009.
Cole is the starter the Yankees have wanted for several years. He led MLB in K’s last season with 326 and topped the AL with an ERA of 2.50. He likes the big stage and isn’t afraid of the expectations. Losing Severino will hurt, but don’t worry to much Yankees fans, there are many others who will step up including Paxton. He didn’t pitch a ton of innings last season, but he can rip up a batting order very quickly. His K/9 ratio was the highest of any Yankees starter in history at 11.11. Tanaka didn’t have a great regular season but was very good in October when they needed him. Filling out the rest of the starting staff will be JA Happ or Jordan Montgomery.
New York’s bullpen is considered one of the best in baseball with the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino. Every one pitched at least 60 games in 2019 and held opposing hitters to a .200 average or lower. Look for Chad Green to excel in 2020 after making 15 starts and striking out 98 hitters in just 69 innings. Jonathan Holder, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa will also get innings this season.
The Yankees lost SS Didi Gregorius to the Phillies, but New York has Gleyber Torres ready to be the next superstar. 38 homeruns and 90 RBI as a 2nd year player were very impressive. His defense is also very good.
At 2B will be DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu will be the regular after playing over 40 games each at first, second and third last season. He was a great addition for the Yankees finishing fourth in the AL MVP voting.
ON THE CORNERS:
When Miguel Andujar got injured last season, Gio Urshela stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. In fact, Urshela may have been an upgrade. He hit .314 with 74RBI. The Yankees may have to make a tough decision now that Andujar is healthy. He is considered a major offensive weapon. At first base, Luke Voit has exceptional power and on – base skills, but he too was slowed by injuries last season. Mike Ford, a surprise last season with 12 home runs in just 50 games, is a nice option as a left-handed hitter.
Aaron Judge continues to battle injuries even in the off-season. He is missed 110 games over the past two seasons. When healthy, you can expect the right fielder to be on the MVP ballot because of his on – base ability and his powerful bat. Centerfielder Aaron Hicks had Tommy John surgery in October and isn’t expected to be available until mid-season at the earliest. New York re-signed veteran Brett Gardner as insurance until Hicks is ready to go. Gardner was the oldest player in baseball to make at least 100 outfield starts last season and had career bests in homeruns with 28 and RBI with 74. The Yankees are hoping Mike Tauchman is not a one – year wonder. He hit .277 with 13 home runs in just 87 games. Giancarlo Stanton will figure in the outfield rotation.
Gary Sanchez led all catchers with 34 home runs and is one of the best defensive receivers in baseball. He has a rocket arm behind the plate but like so many other players continues to battle injuries. Austin Romine left for Detroit as a free agent so that could open up an opportunity for Kyle Higashioka who has seen very little major-league action over the last three seasons.
Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be the designated hitter, but New York will also take a look at Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada. Estrada was impressive in 35 games last season and could be an important player off the bench or as trade bait.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
27….. Consecutive winning seasons by New York.
53.8…. The percentage of hard-hit rating of Aaron Judge, the highest in major-league baseball.
204…. New York’s run differential, third best in major-league baseball.
.490…. New York’s slugging percentage last season, the highest in team history.
1.83….Zach Britton’s ERA since 2014, the lowest in major-league baseball.
1…. Managers who have started their career with two consecutive 100 – when seasons… Aaron Boone.
54 – 22…. New York’s record in the American League East last year, the best ever by any team in the division.
.380….DJ LaMahieu’s average pulling the baseball, hitting in center and in opposite field.
6.9… Clint Frazier registered a Barrel of 6.9 in his plate appearances in 2019.
10.7…..Masahiro Tanaka had a career low 10.7% swinging strike rate.
78.7…..Tanaka had a career-high 78.7% contact rate.
.051…..Zach Britton held opponents to a 0.51 wOBA on sliders, the lowest among relievers in the American League.
WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:
Most scouts in major-league baseball say this is the best team in baseball by far. New York, Houston and the LA Dodgers all one 100 games last season, but only New York has improved from last season. That could be debated by Dodger fans who acquired Mookie Betts from Boston. The Yankees needed upgrade the rotation and they did so by acquiring Cole in the off-season. Losing Severino will hurt. If they can stay healthy, they have enough depth to overcome the injury to Aaron Judge. Losing Aaron Hicks is another blow, but Brett Gardner showed last season the veteran still has plenty left in his tank. Health is perhaps the biggest key for the Yankees this season.
New York’s front office kept hearing complaints about not getting a big – name pitcher. Well that changed in the off-season so the doubters should be happy again in the Bronx. New York is loaded, they are deep and the World Series championship is theirs to take if they stay healthy.
AL PREDICTION: 1st American League East.
SS Anthony Volpe
OF Deivi Garcia
OF Estevan Florial
RHP Michael King
RHP Luis Gil
C Anthony Seigler
RHP Albert Abreau
RHP Clarke Schmidt
OF Kevin Alcantara
SS Oswald Paraza