The New York Yankees have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the MLB season thus far.
Even though they started Spring Training with little to no expectations, they lead the AL East entering Thursday. In fact, their 34-23 record only trails the Houston Astros in the American League. They have shown consistency on offense and defense, and they seem poised for a playoff run earlier than expected.
What’s even better is that these Yankees won’t be a one-year wonder. Based on the youth of the roster and their potential, all signs indicate this team will contend for several years. Much like the Astros and the Chicago Cubs – just to name two – the Yankees will be a contending franchise for years to come.
Let’s start with their position players. Every franchise needs a leader, and the Yankees have one in Gary Sanchez. The talented catcher came second in the AL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2016, and even though this year he missed time due to an injury, he hasn’t skipped a beat. And if his offense isn’t enough, he’s also a tremendous defensive catcher with a cannon for an arm. He controls the running game like few others can – especially at his age – and he has the kind of makeup needed to thrive in a big-market franchise such as the Yankees.
Sanchez is the leader, but he’s not the only player worth mentioning. Starlin Castro played several years with the Cubs, but he’s grown a lot as a second baseman in New York. And if we consider he’s only 27 years old, he’s entering his prime right now. Same age as Didi Gregorius, the shortstop who represented the Netherlands in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Both players should handle New York’s middle infield for years to come.
If we move into the hot corner, Chase Headley currently owns the position, but that role will be for Gleyber Torres in the future. Torres signed with the Cubs and came to the franchise in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago. And thanks to a strong showing in Spring Training, all signs indicate he will be up in The Show sooner than later. He’s one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and has “star potential” written all over him.
What’s even crazier is that we haven’t even mentioned Aaron Judge yet. The right fielder has been the Yankees’ best player this season, and he leads all of baseball with 18 home runs. He’s only 25 years old, and he can the big bat New York needs in the middle of their lineup.
So far we have Sanchez, Castro, Torres, Judge, and Gregorius. That’s a nice core offensively, but the Yankees also have pitching. Masahiro Tanaka might opt out, but what if he doesn’t? The Japanese hasn’t been the dominant pitcher many expected, but there’s no question he has enough talent to lead a rotation. But he could be a solid number two behind the one who has been New York’s real ace this season. We are talking about Luis Severino.
The former top prospect struggled in both 2015 and 2016, and seemed destined to the bullpen. However, he bounced back this year and has emerged as the Yankees’ workhorse in the rotation. He’s only 23, so he has all the time in the world to continue improving. But so far this season, Severino owns a 2.90 ERA and a 4-2 record in 11 starts.
Every contending team needs a closer, and the Yankees have two options for that role. One is Aroldis Chapman, who signed a five-year deal with the Yankees last year. Barring a trade, the Cuban reliever will remain in the Bronx until the end of the 2021 season. And Dellin Betances can fulfill that role if he stays with the team long-term. However, that’s a big “if” considering what happened during the arbitration hearings a few months ago.
It only takes a quick look to see the Yankees have the offense and the pitching to contend not only this season, but for years to come. And while they might need to add a few veterans here and there in the near future, there’s no question the Bronx Bombers have all the right pieces to contend in the American League for years to come.