Everything Is Coming Together for the New York Yankees
When you've won 27 World Titles as an organization, expectations remain high every year like they are for the New York Yankees. Too high, in fact, most of the time.
Despite finishing over .500 for the past 24 consecutive seasons, it's always seems like it's World Series or bust for New York. With just one postseason appearance since 2012 (a loss in the AL Wild Card round to the Houston Astros in 2015), that pressure gets ratcheted up, even if they're going through a different and unfamiliar phase as an organization.
Although Chapman came back to the Yankees to the tune of five years and $86 million, those deals paved the way for some of their current success early this season -- we currently have them sitting at the top of our power rankings.
But what's driving this success?
It All Starts With Pitching
One of the major strengths of the 2017 Yankees is their pitching -- they rank fifth in team SIERA at 3.51. Masahiro Tanaka, who came over from Japan prior to the 2014 season, has been a stabilizing force and integral piece of this rotation. Tanaka has made 81 starts as a Yankee, but his 2016 campaign was perhaps his best -- over 199.2 innings pitched, Tanaka logged a 3.79 SIERA with a strong 10.9% swinging-strike rate.
This, however, hasn't come without some warts -- Tanaka has been a bit banged up, underwent elbow surgery, and those high innings totals in Japan may have had an impact. He's been solid enough so far this season with a 4.15 SIERA over 36.1 innings pitched, but it's his fellow starters that have made the biggest difference.
|Name||Innings||SIERA||K Rate %|
Tanaka may not own that moniker as ace for much longer, either. If it feels like you've been hearing about the exploits of Michael Pineda and Luis Severino for a while, you're not wrong -- these young hurlers have a ton of talent, but have yet to put it all together. Finally, though, we may be seeing them connect the dots.
It would be impossible to discuss the Yankees pitching stuff without discussing how good the back of the bullpen has been -- while the arbitration case of Dellin Betances may have been a bit rocky, he and Chapman have been brilliant in the late innings. Using our nERD, these two rank in the top-30 of all pitchers in baseball.
A Juggernaut Offense
The Washington Nationals offense, rightfully so, has garnered the lion's share of attention in 2017 -- they lead the league in wOBA. But quietly, there's another team that stacks up pretty well compared to those Nats.
|New York Yankees||.352||2||128||1||.812||2|
The Yankees stack up pretty favorably in several metrics when compared to the Nationals, and three big contributors may surprise you a bit.
Rookie Aaron Judge came in with lofty expectations, but a 44.2% strikeout rate in 2016 over 95 plate appearances tempered some wild predictions.
Aaron Hicks was traded to the Yankees for John Ryan Murphy prior to last season, and he proceeded to disappoint with a .270 wOBA and 64 wRC+. He wasn't guaranteed a starting spot this year since the outfield was already pretty full with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, newly-signed Matt Holliday, and Judge.
In order for the Chicago Cubs to sign Ben Zobrist two winters ago, they flipped Starlin Castro to the Yankees in exchange for Warren -- and this wasn't exactly seen as a win by many pundits for the Yankees.
So, what have these three characters done so far in 2017?
Judge's majestic homers have become common place in highlight films, but these other guys have been pretty good, too. Among hitters with at least 80 plate appearances, here is where they rank in a few different statistical categories.
While Tanaka has been the leader of this staff for the last four seasons, Pineda and Severino may be ready to step into the spotlight and shine. Coupled with a very strong back end of the bullpen, this is a strong pitching staff.
The offense has also been phenomenal, and it boasts three hitters that are at the top of the league in utilizing various metrics. Whether it can be kept up over a full season is yet to be seen, but it's certainly a talented team with some nice pieces in place for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps what should be feared the most is that this doesn't even take into account some other assets that were acquired in this mini-rebuild, which could be in line to contribute soon -- names that you may be familiar with such as Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier.
If you are a Boston Red Sox fan or just a Yankees hater, you may want to hide your eyes -- this is a well constructed team with both a powerful pitching staff and robust offense that looks to be a major player and is here to stay.