After an underwhelming 2021 season, it was believed that the Yankees' window to contend for a championship was starting to close. These opinions only became stronger as the Yankees had a quiet offseason where they made a lot of under the radar moves rather than going on their typical spending spree in free agency. Since the season started however, the Yankees have been dominating every opponent in their way. They are currently riding a 47-16 record which is not only best in the American League, but in all of baseball. Here are all the reasons for their spectacular start.
1. A More Balanced Lineup
The heart of the Yankees' lineup, without question, centers around Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, they are one of baseball's more feared hitting duos, which is something pitchers dealt with last year. As of now, they have picked up right where they left off. Stanton has hit 13 home runs while Judge has taken his game to another level, clobbering an absurd 25 home runs. They are both on pace to hit over 30 home runs, although Judge might hit 66 at this rate. Let's not forget that he also leads the team in almost every other hitting category.
The big difference for Judge and Stanton this year, is that they have much more help at the plate. Anthony Rizzo has had a lower batting average than in years past, but he's well on pace to eclipse his home run and RBI total from last year. Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres only needed 58 games to match his home run total from the last two years combined. Additionally, the Yankees have a well rounded group of contact hitters led by DJ Lemahieu, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Jose Trevino. Out of all their hitters, Trevino has been the biggest surprise, hitting .300 while delivering two walk-offs this season.
2. Better Pitching and a Fundamentally Sound Defense
Last year, the Yankees' pitching staff had some stretches where they looked unhittable while other times, they needed 25 pitches just to get out of an inning. This year, they've been far more consistent. All of their starting pitchers have a winning record with the highest ERA being Gerrit Cole's 3.33. Despite this, Cole overcame a shaky start to the season and has looked like the $324 million ace the Yankees payed him to be, leading the team in strikeouts to go along with a 6-1 record. Nestor Cortes has been baseball's biggest breakout star as of now. His 5-2 record, 1.96 era, and 71 strikeouts make him all but a lock to start for the A.L. in the all star game. The rest of the rotation consists of a fully healthy Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon who have all contributed toward the Yankees having the lowest era in the majors at 2.81.
Defensively, the Yankees have been much more respectable in the field compared to last season. This is because Aaron Boone has been playing guys where they are comfortable at, whether it's Gleyber Torres returning to second base or Giancarlo Stanton playing in the outfield more often. For Stanton to excel in the field, Aaron Judge has made the transition to center field where he's shown that he can cover ground as well as any other center fielder. Behind the plate, Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino have proved to be defensive upgrades, as Yankee pitchers no longer have to worry about their pitches going to the backstop. These adjustments are a big reason why the Yankees are in the top three for runs saved defensively. Without the improvement of their defense the Yankees would not have baseball's best record by such a wide margin.
3. Long Term Outlook
There's no reason to think that the Yankees can't continue their dominant stretch. Aaron Boone has been pressing all the right buttons and this team not only jells together, but they look like they're having fun which wasn't usually the case last year. Aaron Judge is well on pace to finally win his first career A.L. MVP, they're going to have a bunch of starters for the all-star game, and at this rate they can clinch home field for the entire postseason. As for their current record, (47-16) the only time they've had a better start was in 1998 where they won 114 games en route to a World Series championship. And while there's still a lot of baseball to be played, fans have every right to be extremely optimistic about this team.