The Yankees are getting closer and closer to opening day, and most predictions from around the league have the Yankees finishing in last, or second to last and finishing a game or two under .500, but the Yankee roster is much different from the 2016 Yankees, and we feel that most media outlets didn’t cover the reasons the Yankees will be better this season.
Let’s start out with this, last year the Yankees batted Ellsbury, Teixeria, Rodriguez, and McCann all back-to-back and that covered the meat of the Yankees order. Rodriguez and Teixeria were massive disappointments last year and that led to a very unproductive offense for the Yankees. Below is a list that we put together of reasons why the Yankees will be better in 2017.
- Gary Sanchez – Okay, let’s face it, this one isn’t rocket science. Last season Gary Sanchez came up and had an enormous two months with the Yankees. He will be replacing Brian McCann. Last year McCann batted .242 with 20 homers and 58 runs batted in. Gary Sanchez batted .299 while crushing 20 homers and 42 runs batted in. The best part about this comparison is that it took McCann almost 450 at bats to put together those numbers, while Sanchez did it in just over 200. Also, Sanchez will be a better defensive catcher as well. Runners fear his arm and he is capable of making a direct impact on defense. The Yankees should enjoy much better production out of this spot in 2017 with Gary Sanchez owning this spot in 2017.
- Greg Bird – Last year was catastrophic for Mark Teixeria and now with his retirement the Yankees can look to Greg Bird to increase their production at first base. The other problem the Yankees had with Teixeria last season was Girardi’s willingness to continue letting him bat somewhere in the 3-4-5 spots. He batted just .204 with 15 long balls and 44 RBI’s. In 2017 Greg Bird has gotten off to a scorching hot start. He’s leading the Grapefruit League in just about every power stat and is developing into a nice first basemen that has the possibility of staying with the Yankees for some time now. The Yankees will enjoy much more production out of this spot in the line-up in 2017.
- Matt Holliday/Chris Carter – Another Yankee that struggled mightily in 2017 was Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees kept hitting him in the 3-4-5 spot as well last year. They got truly no production from him. This season the Yankees took Matt Holliday to fill their void at DH, and then at the close of spring training they also added the power bat of Chris Carter. With these two platooning certain positions and splitting the DH role the Yankees will have a nice increase in production from this part of the line up.
- Michael Pineda – I’m going to go ahead and put this on the record. 2017 will be the best season of Michael Pineda’s career. He has looked very sharp at points this spring training, but I also believe that with this being his contract year. He may be able to stay more focused throughout the season, and give the Yankees a much needed boost in their rotation in 2017.
- The Rotation – The rotation is not great on paper, at least at this very moment. We know Tanaka will be an ace, but after that we have a lot of potential question marks. As I said above I believe that Pineda will pitch better in 2017, but let’s also not forget that the Yankees rotation was in shambles last year. Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi, CC, and Severino. Tanaka, CC, and Pineda will all return this year and you would imagine you will get similar production out of them. That leaves your bottom two spots that are being fought for right now in Spring Training. Eovaldi was inefficient in 2016 and posted a 4.76ERA before blowing out his arm. Also, Severino struggled mightily posting an ERA above 7 as a starter last year. Presumably Chad Green and one other will take over that rotation spot. With the young arms in the Yankee organization it’s hard to imagine them not being able to improve their back end of the rotation in 2017.
- The Bullpen – Andrew Miller might not be returning with the Yankees in 2017, but the Yankees bullpen will be better in 2017 than it was in 2016. With Chapman coming back the Yankees now have a legitimate closer. The only thing missing is Andrew Miller, well the Yankees replaced Andrew Miller with something their bullpen lacked mightly last year; depth. The Yankees depth in their bullpen this year will be stellar. Last season after your big three you had to choose from: Kirby Yates, Anthony Swarzak, Johnny Barbato, Nick Goody, and others. If you were in a close game, but you were behind a couple runs you couldn’t rely on the bullpen. Their middle relief was awful and they never went to any of the big three in games where they were down just a run or two. That would cause games to get out of hand and the offense would never even get a chance to tie the game or put us ahead. This year we have replaced that middle relief core with some of the following (depending on rotation battles): Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Tommy Layne, Tyler Clippard, Ernesto Fireri, and others. The depth of the Yankee bullpen will help them stay in games longer and result in a few more come from behind wins in 2017.
The Yankees have definitely taken a step forward in 2017 and that is why we believe the Yankees will also take a step forward in the standings. The Yankees have the potential to do some great things this season, but paper doesn’t talk, results do, so let’s get get ready and root on our 2017 New York Yankees.