Thoughts Halfway Through the Season.

new-york-yankees-223768_500_500The Yankees today are literally at the halfway mark of the season, 81 games down, 81 to go. They have the best record in baseball and at 54-27 this projects to a 108 win season. I enjoyed the homerfest against the Red Sox on Sunday night, though Saturday night was painful. It’s clear the Yankees have a playoff worthy team, though playing in the same division with the Red Sox will make one of them a wild card facing a one-game elimination, as the Yankees were last year (which they won).

I have to say the Yankees have brought me tons of joy for the past two seasons. Their unexpected revival last year came out of the blue and while they are hardly underdogs any longer, their team is laden with under 30 stars. This years phenom is Gleyber Torres and to a lesser extent Miguel Andujar. I saw them both play early last season at AA in Trenton, and now they are top players.

In fact in analyzing this year’s team, the biggest upgrades are at third base (vs. Chase Headley) and to a lesser extent an upgrade at second base (vs. Starlin Castro). Andujar and Torres, ages 23 and 21 respectively, have been a joy and provide talent, energy and as part of a largely under 30 squad, hope for excellence for many seasons to come.

The Yankees greybeards are CC Sabathia, who may retire at season’s end, and Dave Robertson and Brett Gardner. All 3 are in mid late 30s and were contributors to the 2009 Championship. But all are on contracts which end at the end of the season and likely won’t return. Alas, one contract that will return is Jacoby Ellsbury who is signed through 2020, and has physically been unable to play at all this year, and there is no role if he did.

Judge and Stanton are massive mashers, and hopefully Gary Sanchez breaks out of his funk when he returns. Didi was otherworldly in April, awful in May and very good in June. Greg Bird is a big question mark with injuries and poor play. I don’t think the Yankees can play another year with below average production from first base. Hicks is an excellent fielder and shows flashes of having a big stick (Like Sunday night). But overall, the hitting has been very good and probably will get better. While their batting average at .250 is OK, their OPS (On base plus slugging) at .789 leads the majors. Hitting should not be a concern.

Pitching is a concern, specifically starting pitching. Luis Severino is great–Cy Young worthy, but every starter beyond Sevy is not a lock for a good start. Sonny Gray in particular is a big disappointment. That could be their downfall this year and will be their focus either at the trading deadline and/or the off season, or both. Here too there are young arms coming up with potential, but young arms are always hit or miss. The relief staff is the best in baseball is terrific virtually every time out but even with a “shorter” game with an extraordinarily deep bullpen, you need strong starters and the Yankees are a couple short.

I am praying for lots of exciting baseball for the rest of the year and with tickets for 25 regular home games I am aiming to become an honorary Bronx resident. In terms of the outcome, if I had to guess, I think they could fall short without additional starter(s), but that 2019 will be the year of their 28th Championship. But this season has been great and I hope it will continue into October. Then, who knows?

But at least I’m enjoying the ride.

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