As of this writing, the New York Yankees are 33-17 after starting the 2018 Major League Baseball season with an average 9-9 record. They have won 24 of their last 32 games, and some pretty remarkable, unexpected events have led to the drastic turnaround.
Coming into the season, the Yankees were expected to be one of the best teams in the MLB. After all, they were one game away from advancing to the 2017 World Series, or championship.
Then, over the offseason, they acquired the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player, Giancarlo Stanton, in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
The Yankees started off the season on a high note, winning their first two games with great pitching and even better hitting, but then lost nine of their next 16 games, putting them in third place for their division. This left them seven-and-a-half games behind the division leaders, and their rival, the Red Sox.
At that point in the season, the Red Sox were 17-2 and it looked almost impossible for the Yankees to catch up to them.
During this slump of theirs, inconsistency was their biggest problem. Some nights, the Yankees would win by a lot and look like the team everyone thought they were, but other nights, they would lose by a lot and the high potential was nowhere to be found.
This all changed on April 21 when the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-1, which was the first win of a nine-game winning streak. During this streak, the Yankees were dominant, outscoring their opponents by an impressive 64-18 margin. This run showed the amazing hitting and pitching the team possessed.
The team remained hot after the winning streak ended, and eventually jumped past the Red Sox into first place.
Here are some of the key factors as to how the Yankees turned their season around.
Two of the Yankees’ rookies, Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres, were called up from the minor leagues and both had a big impact on the Yankees’ offense.
Andújar started the season in the minor leagues after the Yankees signed third baseman Brandon Drury over the offseason. However, after an injury to Drury, Andújar was called up to the majors and got his chance to shine.
Over the 42 games Andújar has played, he has a .308 on base percentage, meaning he gets on base 30.8 percent of the time he is up. He has five home runs and 18 runs batted in, or runners he brought home. He also showed he can handle the pressure when he hit a walk-off single, or game-winning single.
Torres, who like Andújar was called up to the majors thanks to injuries to a plethora of other Yankees players, has only played 30 games, but has belted nine home runs and 24 RBI in that span. He has a staggering .384 on base percentage, and the MLB average is only .317. He, also like Andújar, has a walk-off, but his was a home run.
In addition to those two standout first-year players, another rookie named Tyler Austin leads all rookies, except Torres and another, with eight home runs.
Freshman Christian Herrmann says, “It’s really interesting seeing these rookies do so well, especially right away. Usually, it takes some time for a rookie to settle in, but the Yankees rookies have been making a major impact right away. This adds so much more strength to their lineup.”
Another key reason for their success is the bullpen, or relief pitching. The Yankees bullpen has a combined 3.16 earned run average, or ERA. ERA is the average amount of runs either a pitcher, or in this case the bullpen as a whole, allows through nine innings.
The Yankees bullpen allows 3.16 runs per nine innings. This is remarkable as the league average is 3.97. The Yankees are tied for the fifth best bullpen in the MLB and with 30 teams, that is impressive.
One last reason the Yankees have been successful is their team power. Four different players on their team already have more than 10 home runs, and only 31 players have 11 or more home runs so far.
As a team, the Yankees have 83 home runs, seven more than the team in second place, the Red Sox. All the teams combined are averaging only 59 home runs per team, so the Yankees are 24 home runs above the average.
This power was expected with the aforementioned Stanton and last year’s American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge. These two hit a combined 111 home runs last season. Also, other pieces like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, and many more have contributed to the big home run total.
Sophomore Jonathan Mindiak says, “It’s a really fun team to watch and a hard team to pitch to. No matter what the situation is, anybody could just hit a home run and score a run. Everybody in the lineup can hit, so the pitchers don’t have a choice but to pitch straight everyone and it can lead to some big hits.”
If the Yankees do end up making the playoffs, how far do you think they could go? With all this talent they have, should they expect a championship, or should they just aim for the playoffs?