By Ivan Morrobel
Published: September 27th, 2017
The New York Yankees have not won a playoff game in four years.
After deciding to move forward with their youth movement, they find themselves in the midst of a playoff race in 2017. With October postseason baseball being less than a week away, the Yankees have proven to be a legitimate contender in the American League (AL).
A roster that includes a trio of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) young superstars in Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino has exceeded expectations. According to baseball’s projection system PECOTA, the Yankees were projected to finish the 2017 regular season with a record of (80-82), out of the playoff picture. But New York has defeated the odds.
Entering this season, there was uncertainty with the Yankees’ starting pitching rotation and lack of production at the third base position. The team’s shortstop, Didi Gregorius, began the season on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury after participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands. The fan base had every right to write this team off, but the Bronx Bombers managed to start the season with a 14-7 record.
While it appeared the Yankees were pretenders, they’ve continued to thrive throughout the season. An AL Rookie of The Year favorite and MVP candidate, Judge had a monstrous first half in his first full season for the team. The 25-year-old right fielder made his name known around the league with his monstrous bat, showcasing it in his victory at the Home Run Derby in Miami in July.
Severino has pitched like an ace for the entire season, and Gregorius broke the record for most home runs by a Yankee shortstop. With the Yankees progressing in talent while beating their expectations, the potential for the team increases with every successful outing.
Although this team seemed destined to make some noise this season, they weren’t pleased with what they had going into the second half. The team’s General Manager (GM) Brian Cashman made a few trades before July’s non-waiver trade deadline, solidifying his role and position on the team. The Yankees went on to acquire big-name players in Sonny Gray, Todd Frazier, and David Robertson. Cashman rolled the dice and cashed in, as the team has begun to mold into a winnable product.
The Yankees have been playing catch-up in the AL East because of the first-place Boston Red Sox, who are favorites to go on a deep playoff run. The Yankees’ front office knew the team’s roster would need some assistance to overcome teams such as Boston, the Houston Astros, and the reigning AL Champion Cleveland Indians.
Regardless of how they finish the season, there are some positive notes to take away from 2017. They’ll still have their homegrown young core learning in a competitive environment while also getting a year in experience. Their back end of the bullpen still features some of the game’s best, in Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances, and also some highly underrated relievers, in Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle.
A solid one-two punch in Severino and Gray to start a series will be a threat against teams in the AL, but when it comes to playoff baseball in the MLB, having a reliable bullpen can help any team when it matters the most.
A playoff run of any length would pay dividends to the club, as the exposure to a playoff atmosphere will allow the new core of the team to adjust to intensity of meaningful October baseball.