With baseball finally back in action after a messy hiatus, the New York Yankees have wasted no time proving why this year is their year. Despite averaging 98 wins over the last three seasons, they haven't been able to break through in the playoffs, losing to the eventual American League champion each year. But as of now the Yankees look World Series bound, as their 9-4 start is currently one of baseball's best records. Here's a look inside their hot start and expectations moving forward.
As I mentioned, the Yankees have been one of the best teams with their 9-4 start, and there's no luck to it. Their hot start includes a seven game win streak, featuring a sweep over the rival Boston Red Sox. At the center of this early season surge is none other than their 6'7" slugger Aaron Judge. He's been playing like an MVP, hitting .302/.362/.837, along with an amazing seven home runs. Six of those have come in five games with two game winners. Members who were injured last year like Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are now healthy and making a difference again. It's particularly a good sight for the Yankees to see Stanton, who was out for the majority of last season, re emerge as one of the team's reliable hitters. But that doesn't mean last year's unexpected heroes have been a no-show. First baseman DJ LeMahieu is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball, leading the team with a .429 batting average. Third baseman Gio Urshela hasn't stopped making impossible throws while falling away, and also produces timely hits. The pitching unit improved thanks to Gerrit Cole's nine year, $324 million contract. So far, he's upped his 16 game win streak last season to 19 this year, and has shown no signs of stopping. The Yankees have also enjoyed the return of Masahiro Tanaka last week, and are awaiting the return of Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen.
There's no reason why the Yankees shouldn't be able to continue their success. Their A.L. foes, the Houston Astros and Red Sox, are still in disarray after the sign stealing scandals. This leaves the door wide open for the Yankees to finally appear in the World Series. There are some challenges, as they will have to play more playoff games due to this year's format of adding three teams into the playoff picture. But with the way they're playing right now, they don't have a lot of reason to be concerned about increased competition. Threats in the A.L. are scarce, as the Yankees swept the 10-4 Minnesota Twins in last year's divisional series. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are likely to be their World Series opponent, could be their biggest postseason challenge. Other than that, the Yankees are in a great position to become more than a contender to win a championship.
It's a very good time to be a Yankees fan. Their successful start brings a lot of hope toward a World Series and possibly a championship. The season could get cancelled if more COVID-19 outbreaks come from players on other teams, but cases were expected to occur even before the season started. All the Yankees can do, is focus on being safe, testing negative and play good baseball. So far, so good!