The New York Yankees have been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the 2021 season. With high expectations, they have underachieved. Whenever it looks like they might have figured it out, they once again go back to their losing ways. Even if they somehow sneak into the playoffs, they probably won't go far, and there will certainly be changes once the season ends.
Their problems start at the plate where they can't capitalize with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are practically at the bottom of the league when it comes to that category. Home runs - their strength at the plate - have come less frequently than in other years. They also lack contact hitters; too many players look to hit home runs and end up striking out. DJ LeMahieu, their best contact hitter in recent years, resigned for six years and $90 million, but he hasn't matched his play from the previous two seasons. Guys who were seen as key players in previous years such as Gleyber Torres have struggled. Their power hitter Giancarlo Stanton hasn't been the big time player the Yankees envisioned when they inherited his big contract. Only Aaron Judge has been the most successful hitter this year. He is leading the team in home runs, batting average, and RBIs while staying healthy so far.
As for their pitching, it seems like every time this unit takes one step forward, they then proceed to take two steps back. Gerrit Cole for the most part, has shown why he was worth the big contract the Yankees gave him, but he doesn't get much run support. The same can be said for Jordan Montgomery who pitched five starts without any run support from his teammates before last Thursday. Corey Kluber had appeared to be finding his groove after pitching a no-hitter in mid-May, before injuring his shoulder. By the time he gets back, the Yankees will likely be all, but eliminated from making the postseason. Domingo German and Jamesson Taillon have had their moments, but aren't long term answers. Their bullpen, which was viewed as their biggest pitching strength prior to the season, has blown a bunch of games where they appeared to have a comfortable lead. Three of those blown leads have come when they were leading by four or more runs entering the eighth inning.
These problems however extend beyond the diamond. It has been apparent that Aaron Boone hasn't been able to light a spark in this team, and he's made poor decisions in some of their losses. In their last loss to Boston for example, he pulled Domingo German in the eighth inning after giving up his first hit even though he probably could've pitched to one or two more batters. I've always thought that Boone has been unfairly criticized over the years, but if this team keeps underperforming, there's little he could say to convince management to retain him for another year. That's not to say they're not at fault either. Brian Cashman believed that he had a roster that could contend so he ignored areas that turned out to be flaws, whether it was the lack of left handed hitting, athleticism on defense, or a consistent rotation. Their player development has also been subpar if you realize they've developed no one who looks like a foundational player in the last five years outside of Judge. Cashman has done many good things for the franchise, but with this year likely being their 12th year without even sniffing a World Series, he should go.
Overall, this is looking like a lost season for the Yankees. As mentioned earlier, the only positive from this season has been a healthy Judge. While it's still possible for them to turn it around and sneak into the wild card, it seems more unlikely as they keep losing. On the bright side, the Yankees are usually able to find ways to turn it around after a rough season. That doesn't mean that they should make any moves at the trade deadline. If they find out that the players they want such as Trevor Story or Starling Marte are likely staying put, they should wait for free agency because they're not one player away from turning it around. What they should do at the deadline, is try to trade starters for prospects with high potential. Hopefully, this team makes the necessary moves to climb back in contention.
Last season, the Yankees were a little bit of a disappointment. Picked by many to win the World Series, the Yankees couldn't adapt to a season that was heavily affected by COVID-19. This resulted in a roller coaster season full of high and low moments, ultimately ending in a divisional series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. But as Spring Training is right around the corner, there are many reasons to look forward to 2021.
One reason for optimism is the Yankees' successful offseason. For the most part, they were able to check off some of their important priorities starting with re-signing star infielder DJ Lemahieu. Since he was signed to a two year contract, Lemahieu has outplayed his deal and has become a major contributor to the team. In the beginning of the offseason, the negotiations for a new contract started off on a rocky note, but both sides were able to agree to a deal consisting of six years and $90 million. In addition, Brian Cashman signed two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to a one year deal. Despite injuries over the last two seasons, management probably believes that he could add depth to the rotation and become a mentor for the younger pitchers.
There are other bright spots of last year that will be primed to make an impact next season, starting with their 6 ft 7 slugger, Aaron Judge. Last year, he was looking like an MVP candidate during the first stretch of the season, which included six home runs in five games. Injuries put him out of the race, but he returned toward the end of the season, and had a strong postseason. Fellow hitter Giancarlo Stanton also served as a contributor after being sidelined for the majority of last year. While he also dealt with injuries, he returned to play a prominent role when the postseason arrived. Both players have changed their winter routines, in hopes of reducing the amount of injuries they get. Gerrit Cole, their prized free agent signing last offseason, has looked like a good signing for the most part. After a streaky start, he rebounded in September and was very solid in the postseason. With the urgency to win a championship increasing, these guys must continue to produce.
While the Yankees didn't adjust well to the season's modifications as a result of COVID-19, the effect the pandemic had on baseball last year, shouldn't be the case this year. Last season, the shortened schedule affected the Yankees chances of making the playoffs at a higher seed. When there was a month to go toward the end of last season, the Yankees were barely in the playoff picture at a record of 21-21. Had that been in a 162 game season, there wouldn't have been any concern, but here were the Yankees in danger of missing the playoffs. They then went on a tear as the season ended, going on a 10 game winning streak, the kind of momentum that they're usually able to maintain with a full schedule.
Even with last year's disappointing finish, there were still some bright spots that will be essential going into next season. In what will likely be a less uncertain baseball season, the Yankees should be able to rediscover their winning ways on a more consistent basis. On top of that, they checked off some of their most notable offseason priorities. This is a team that can really break through the playoffs and hopefully capture a long-awaited 28th championship.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.
This MLB season has already been one of the craziest seasons in recent memory. One week after the season started, there were so many COVID cases that commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to end the season. But the game went on, and with this year's format of 16 playoff teams because of the shortened 60 game season, this postseason will probably be even more wild.
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2 ALDS
8. Toronto Blue Jays 0
1. Tampa Bay Rays 3
5. New York Yankees 2
4. Cleveland Indians 1
5. New York Yankees 2 ALCS
1. Tampa Bay Rays 4
2. Oakland A's 2
3. Minnesota Twins 2
6. Houston Astros 0
2. Oakland A's 3
3. Minnesota Twins 1
2. Oakland A's 2
7. Chicago White Sox 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2 NLDS
8. Milwaukee Brewers 0
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 3
4. San Diego Padres 0
4. San Diego Padres 2 NLCS
5. St. Louis Cardinals 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
2. Atlanta Braves 1
3. Chicago Cubs 2
6. Miami Marlins 0
2. Atlanta Braves 3
3. Chicago Cubs 2
2. Atlanta Braves 2
7. Cincinnati Reds 0
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!
Events of the past several weeks have shown that there is profound social unrest in our country. Over centuries, African Americans have been discriminated against in many different ways, recently escalating with incidents of police brutality and violence. At least three African Americans - Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd - were killed by either the police or white civilians earlier this year. Thousands of protests are happening all over America as a way of responding to the injustice. As a result, many athletes have been using their social platform to create change, take a stand, and call for action.
Notable athletes have been vocal for change, using their platform to speak out. One of those players has been none other than LeBron James. He has made many social media posts expressing the difficulties of being an African American, letting people know the reasons for his activism, and stating that white people always command African Americans what to do. He made an emotional video with the sound of a basketball hitting the floor and as the ball hit the floor, a new white command would pop up. The captions went from "Shut up and dribble", which Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told him back in 2018, to "Shut up and lay still." James concluded the video saying, "This is why we can't just stick to sports. Do you understand now?" Colin Kaepernick has probably earned the most praise from other athletes and coaches since he kneeled for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season. His purpose was to draw attention to all of the racism and police brutality against African-Americans. He's now became a symbol of resistance to the unfair treatment of African Americans. Recently, he created a legal defense initiative called Know Your Rights Camp "for victims of excessive force by police terrorism and civil rights violations."
NFL and MLB players have created group videos for their own respective leagues condemning racism. The NFL video featured Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, and others. All of the players pushed the NFL to make a statement condemning racism, saying "What will it take? For one of us to be brutally murdered by the police?" They named numerous African Americans who were killed, that could've been them. The video concludes with all of them stating, "On behalf of the National Football League this is what we, the players would like to hear you state: We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We the National Football League believe Black Lives Matter." www.instagram.com/p/CBN8b4Kn4S0/
As for baseball, Giancarlo Stanton tweeted a video which included him and other players such as Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. They used #Players4BLM while vowing to make their voices louder toward creating change. Their message was, "We've been told that our peaceful pleas were not made at the right time, at the right place, in the right way. We've been told to 'wait.' But we remember when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that the word 'wait' has almost always meant never. We will wait no longer. We will make our voices louder for all of us who can and for all of those who could not." www.instagram.com/p/CBeefY6lNeu/
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a longtime friend of George Floyd. After hearing the news of his death, he flew to Minneapolis, where he's spoken at rallies about Floyd's story to bring attention to the police brutality that still occurs. Soon, he became an unforeseen spokesman for the family and the Black Lives Matter movement which has gained momentum around the world. He also gave a passionate speech on May 29 during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall. At Floyd's funeral in Houston, he sat next to Floyd's daughter Gianna and later held her up on her shoulders at a rally. Jackson not only promises to take care of Gianna, but to bring justice for the family. His work earned lots of praise from many players, commissioner Adam Silver, former teammates, and coaches.
Despite the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is still controversy over some methods of protesting. Drew Brees said in an interview that he will never agree with anyone who kneels during the National Anthem. Many people such as James and even Brees's teammates spoke out against Brees. Even though Brees is well-liked within the football community, his comments show the lack of understanding he and many other Americans still have about racism. The responses from many fans and players who were upset by his comments shows the increase in their support toward protests against discrimination. Shortly after the interview, Brees issued an apology pledging to be an ally for the African-American community in fighting for racial equality and social justice.
This is the first time that athletes of all sports are using their social platform to create change. LeBron James recently created an initiative called More Than a Vote with the goal of standing up against racist voter suppression by educating, energizing, and protecting communities. Other athletes and entertainers have teamed up together to reach out to communities. Within one month, the organization has already identified major cities in key states in hopes of having an impact.
During this month, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace spoke out against the Confederate flag, saying it was a symbol of hate, not heritage. He successfully used his platform as the the only full-time African American driver at the top level to call for Confederate flags to be banned at NASCAR events. His viewpoints have caused him to give up sponsorships, but he has always put his beliefs over money. Shortly after he took this stand, a rope was found in his garage which was thought to be a noose. After investigations, it turned out not to be a hate crime, but the support he received was encouraging. This included an emotional procession of other drivers following Wallace who was driving his car to the front of the pit road.
This is a unique time for our country. It's important that athletes contribute to society in other ways besides just playing sports. Those ways may be varied, but recently many have come together with the purpose of working toward racial equality. It's time for the rest of the world to not just approve the work that athletes are doing, but rather make our own effort to make a difference in some way.
Here are some links to organizations founded by and supported by athletes:
The first thing that pops up into the mind of anyone in the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals organization, or fan regarding the event that started this championship run, would be May 23rd in Queens, when the New York Mets just completed a 4 game sweep of the Nationals. At this time, they simply looked depleted. They had lost maybe the best player of their franchise in Bryce Harper to the rival Philadelphia Phillies, and by getting swept be a division opponent, they looked like they were in for a very rough season. However, that's when things changed.
Slowly, the Nationals climbed back into the playoff picture, and by the midway point of the season, they were in the frontrunners for the wild card spot. However, as crunch time of the regular season approached, they were tested. After a bad series loss to the Cardinals, they were barley hanging on to the final spot. However, they made up for it in the sweetest way possible. Sweeping Harper's Phillies to clinch a playoff spot. With hitters and fielders like Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Trea Turner, as well as their loaded pitching staff of Stephen Strasberg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin, this team definitely had the best chance to win the World Series out of any wild card team. But then again, this is not only a wild card team, but also a team that's notorious for their excruciating postseason defeats.
Then October began.
Their first opponent was the Milwaukee Brewers. A team that was missing its best player Christian Yelich, but ended the season on a tear as the season ended. This was definitely going to be a challenge for the Nationals and it showed as Milwaukee jumped out to a early 3-0 lead in only 2 innings. However, their pitching staff which was one of the best in the league began to take care of one Brewer batter after another. However, it was still 3-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning. That was where Juan Soto hit the first of what would be many big postseason hits. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, he knocked in 3 runs to give the Nationals their first lead of the game. Although he was thrown out at third, which ended the inning, the damage was done. For the first time in their years in Washington, the Nationals were advancing in the postseason where the Los Angeles Dodgers awaited.
The Dodgers were the favorite to go to the World Series and they wasted no time living up to those expectations in a dominating 6-0 game 1 victory. Game 2 was a different story as it was the Nationals who jumped out the gate leading 3-0. The Dodgers put together a furious comeback as they pulled within one run in the eighth inning. That's where Scherzer put any hope of a 2-0 series lead to rest, by getting out of the inning with ease. Thanks to another run thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera's single, the Nationals tied the series at 1. Like game 1, the Dodgers dominated game 3 going up 2-1 in the series. In all but one out of their four postseason trips this decade, the Nationals were eliminated at their own field in the NLDS. They weren't that continue this time, as Rendon and Zimmeran dominated at the plate while Scherzer earned only one run in what was a 6-1 victory setting up a deciding game 5. The Dodgers who have also struggled in their many postseason appearances this decade were determine to not let their title dreams get ruined as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead and were still up 3-1 heading into the eighth inning. That's where the Nationals had arguable the biggest home runs in franchise history. On the first at-bat Rendon hit a home run to make it a one run game. Then on the next at-bat, Soto hit a home run to tie the game. The Nationals wouldn't get any more runs in the inning, but the damage was done. This game was going to extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Howie Kendrick hit a go ahead grand slam home run to give the Nationals a 7-3 lead. They easily took care of the Dodgers and just like that, they were headed to St. Louis.
Against the Dodgers, the Nationals bats were the deciding factor in that series. Throughout their series against the Cardinals, it was the pitching that was dominant in every game. Their big 3 plus Anibal Sanchez who started game won struck out one Cardinal batter after another. At the plate, they weren't getting a lot of runs in the first two games, but those scarce runs all came at key points in the game. However in Washington, the increase in productivity from their batters mainly from Zimmerman and Kendrick in game 3 and a 7 run first inning in game 4, as well as more dominance from the mound, and the Nationals looked unstoppable. Overall this series from game 1 wasn't a competition as the Nationals were on their way to their first ever World Series. Up next, was the Houston Astros.
The Astros at this point, were at the peak of their power. With two American League Championships as well as a World Series Championship under their belt in the last three years, they were looking like they could possibly be the team of the decade. However, the Nationals were only focused on winning. In game 1, Soto's brilliance in the postseason continued as his home run and double which brought in 2 runs. Scherzer once again put up an impressive performance and even though the Astros tried to come back, it was too little too late, as the Nationals took game 1. Despite the great pitching staff that the Nationals had, the Astros pitching staff was also amazing. After defeating their ace Gerrit Cole, future hall of fame Justin Verlander awaited for game 2. In game 2, both teams scored 2 runs each to start, but after that it was all Nationals. Strasberg got his groove back and starting in the 7th inning, the Nationals' hitters went berserk. Kurt Susuki's home run set the tone for a 6 run inning. They tacked on 3 more runs and the result was a 12-3 beatdown. With everything seeming to go like the Nationals' way, they were now headed back to Washington D.C., where the next three games were played as they were up 2-0. But any momentum that was in the Nationals' favor, was vanished in the next there games. In every game, the Nationals only scored one run while the Astros' hitting got better. When game 5 was over, Houston manhandled the Nationals 7-1 and were now headed back to Houston to close out the series. Only that didn't happen. Although the Astros jumped out to a 2-1 lead, home runs by Eaton and Soto gave them a 3-2 lead at the midway point of the game. After that, they didn't look back, and with Rendon's 2 run RBI double in the top of the ninth, there was one more game to decide all matters. With everything at stake, the Nationals unsurprisingly, pulled off another rally. After trailing 2-0 midway, a Rendon home run and some more magic from Kendrick gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead through seven innings. Soto concluded his outstanding postseason with an RBI single, and Eaton's 2 run single concluded all matters. When Daniel Hudson got the struck out Michael Brantley, Washington Nationals after losing their best player in free agency, going 19-31, and trailing in a bunch of postseason games, have won their first ever World Series Championship.
This is the time of baseball season that we've been waiting for. The Playoffs. Throughout this year, lots of teams were able to live up to their expectations, others regressed, but have still made it past the regular season, while some teams overachieved. With the defending champion Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs, lets see who this year's new champion will be.
1. Houston Astros 3
4. Oakland Athletics 2
4. Oakland Athletics over 2. New York Yankees 4
5. Tampa Bay Rays 3. Houston Astros 2
2. New York Yankees 3
3. Minnesota Twins 1
2. New York Yankees 4
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 3
4. Washington Nationals 2
4. Washington Nationals over 1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
5. Milwaukee Brewers 2. Atlanta Braves 2
2. Atlanta Braves 3
3. St. Louis Cardinals 1
This year in baseball has seen many young players take massive steps towards becoming special players. Each of them have done so in their own way throughout the season.. So without further ado, here are the baseball’s 4 superstars that are under 25 years old.
1. Juan Soto
For nearly a decade, the Washington Nationals have had plenty players with lots of hype surrounding them. Players like Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper are having successful careers. Although Juan Soto has not yet played a full season, it seems like he may be even better. He put up extraordinary stats last year by hitting .292/.406/.517 along with 22 home runs, and 70 RBIs. This year he's hitting .285/.399/.522. He will likely top his home run total and he already topped his RBI total. He has shown the ability to prevail in key situations. His impact on the team can't be ignored as the Nationals who looked like they were in for a long season by the time May ended, are now frontrunners for an N.L. Wild Card spot. What makes his success even more amazing, is that he's only 20 years old. So while some may say its too early in his career to call him a superstar, he will probably change your mind pretty soon.
2. Ronald Acuña Jr.
There are not many players who get to enjoy great individual success as well as team success. But right now, Acuña Jr. seems to be one of those players. With his ability to do whatever he wants at home plate or on the bases, Acuña Jr. is one of baseball's most entertaining players. Last year, he batted .293/.366/.552. He also hit 26 home runs which included 5 consecutive gams where he hit a spectacular 6 home runs. More importantly, he helped the Atlanta Braves reach the playoffs for the first time in 4 years with 90 wins. After the season, he was awarded the N.L. Rookie of the Year. Four months later, he got paid big time with a 8 year contract worth $100 million. It was the largest contract for a player who hasn't played one year of major league baseball. So far this year he is living up to his contract in every way possible. The Braves are looking like they're going to repeat as division champs, his powerful hitting earned him a spot in the Home Run Derby, he started in the all star game, and there's a strong chance that he'll have at 40-40. (home runs and steals.) A generational player? A likely possibility if he keeps up his great play.
3. Gleyber Torres
The 2018 New York Yankees started the season with expectations of possibly winning a World Series. But those expectations were nowhere to be seen as they stumbled out the gate and were devastated by injuries. There had to be something that could spark the team. They found it in Gleyber Torres. When he was called up from the minor league last season, the 21 year old Torres helped the Yankees go on a big win streak that saw him make amazing plays at the plate and in the field. Throughout that span, it seemed like there was nothing that he couldn't do. If you needed a big play, he was going to step up. This resulted in his first all star game and a 100 win season. This season, as one of the only consistently healthy players, Torres helped the Yankees take off on a winning streak that put them atop the division only a month after it started. When they needed their starters to come back, Torres continued to come up big time with the Yankees. He was selected to his second all star game, set an M.L.B. record for the youngest player to have 7 multi home run games. He also tied the record for the most home runs vs an opponent (13 against the Baltimore Orioles! It looks like the Yankees will win the division and Torres is a major reason why. It's only been 2 years, but Torres is already establishing himself as one of baseball's most reliable stars.
4. Cody Bellinger
There aren’t many players in baseball that are already good and still have to improve major areas of their game. Their drive is what separates the best from others. Twenty-four year old Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of them. He was really impressive as a rookie, hitting 39 home runs, won N.L. Rookie of the Year, and played a big part in leading the Dodgers to the World Series. Despite losing to the Houston Astros, Bellinger established himself as a major part of a Dodgers team that looked like a possible World Series Champion. In 2018, Bellinger’s stats dipped and the Dodgers were trounced by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. In the offseason, the Dodgers tried to keep star player Manny Machado by trading another star in Yasial Paige to the Cincinnati Reds to free cap space, but Machado left anyway. Burdened with a bigger role coming into 2019, Bellinger has been answering the challenge so far. With an offseason to work on his improving his swing, Bellinger is now doing whatever he wants at the plate. He is hitting .317/.416/.661 and has accounted for 42 home runs and 89 RBIs. He is probably going to win M.V.P. and is essential to the major success that the Dodgers are enjoying this season.
Every year of baseball, fans look for the young players that are not only having one great season, but will be baseball’s top players for about the next decade or so. The focus of baseball’s current stars may be guys like Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and Jose Altuvie amongst others, but these players will be the focus of baseball’s future.
This season, the New York Yankees have been pretty good. Now I know that you readers are probably thinking I'm not surprised. According to your article in March, they were going to win the World Series, so why are you writing another article about how good they are? The reason why I'm writing another article about how good the Yankees are, is because they are playing really good considering that they have a whopping 14 players on the injured list. Yes 14 players. Amongst those players are Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorius, and Dellin Betances. And yet they are amongst the elite teams in the American League.
So while they are still waiting on their players to come back, how could they be doing this good?
The answer, is that these players have been waiting for an opportunity to contribute for what they, along with others believe is a championship team. So even though they are a bunch of guys who are prospects playing in the minor leagues or castoffs, they are the main reason why the Yankees are now 34-15 after starting 6-9. Unlikely heroes like Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, D.J. Lemahieu, Cameron Maybin, Thairo Estrada, and Domingo German, have emerged throughout this stretch. Frazier who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in 2016, showed flashes in 2017, but sat out the conclusion of the season and most of 2018 with injuries. But this year, he is enjoying a healthy season in which his 11 home runs have filled in the void of the injured sluggers on the team. Gio Urshela played sparingly for the Seattle Mariners and Indians before landing with the Yankees last year in August. His slick fielding has made many highlight reels. Maybin has played on 8 teams before getting traded to New York in late April. His key hits and plays in the field may not go in highlight reels, but are essential to this winning stretch. Lemahieu spent most of his career with the Colorado Rockies before being picked up by the Yankees. His clutch hitting has prompted Gary Sanchez to call him "The Machine." Some of the well-known players such as Sanchez along with C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Aroldis Chapman, Luke Voit, and Gleyber Torres, have been playing really good baseball. Aaron Boone's growth has been evident in his sophomore season. Lots of the credit of the success of these little-known players goes to him. The Yankees' highlights include sweeping the Boston Red Sox in their first series since last year's ALDS defeat, beating the Twins who are currently one of the best teams in the A.L., and winning a huge division series against the Rays, and then winning an amazing 9th straight series against Boston. So the question, is how good will the be once their other stars who are out will come back?
The answer is very good.
They not only have a well talented roster of all stars, but a well balanced roster of players who have lots of experience playing for each other. As it is, they've already got some injured players back such as Sanchez and Sabathia who have been playing really good baseball while Aaron Hicks who recently returned, is already beginning to regain his old form. Other players may start out rusty, but will eventually regain their form before it's too late. As it already is, injured players during this stretch like Judge have been making lots of progress in their rehab, so by the time he returns, he'll go back to being the powerful hitter and athletic fielder the he already is. Shortstop Didi Gregorius who returned yesterday, is already playing like the consistent hitter and fielder that he is. Other guys like Severino and Stanton are now expected to be out for longer than expected, so they may be rusty, but their play will likely take a turn for the better once the season comes to an end. Once everyone is back and at full strength, the Yankees will probably be so dominant to the point here they can toy around with their lineups and still keep up the winning pace. But for now, there's a lot of reasons to be excited about this team, especially with Aaron Judge's return looming towards the end of the month.
So as they are right now in arguably their best winning stretch in franchise history, their A team is making great progress as their return off the I.L. is coming closer by the day. The only question would be how to take advantage of their maximum production. Chances are, that with lots of production already happening with their A team and B team stars, it will continue to happen even with the increase of their A team stars coming back. So with the Jets patching up their GM hole and the Knicks and Nets are primed to have big off-seasons, this summer should be fun for New York Sports fans.