Last season, the Yankees returned to the postseason in a big way, shocking the baseball world. They knocked off the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card game and would beat the World Series favorite Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. But that fun run came to a close after they blew a 3-2 series lead to the Houston Astros in the ALCS to lose the series in seven games.
2017 brought a ton of positives to the Bronx. Aaron Judge established himself as one of the game’s best young stars. Gary Sanchez proved that his surge in 2016 was not a fluke and that he can be an impact bat in the majors. Luis Severino became the ace the Yankees thought he could be while Greg Bird showed glimpses of the player he can be when healthy.
The circumstances are different entering 2018 as the pressure is on for the Yankees to return to a championship caliber team. How they handle the pressure will go a long way in deciding their fate. But one thing is certain, they must build off of 2017.
1 Greatest Addition: Giancarlo Stanton
It's no doubt that adding the reigning NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton will do nothing but great things for the Yankees. Stanton is coming off of a career-high 59 home runs season where he took the baseball world by storm, hitting a home run practically every day.
The duo of Stanton and Aaron Judge have Yankee fans head over heels in excitement while the rest of the baseball world wonders how to navigate through a dangerous lineup.
2 Greatest Loss: Joe Girardi
There wasn't a significant amount of changes on this Yankee team, but one major one is Joe Girardi's departure.
Girardi was the manager for 10 years and led the club 91-71 record in 2017. Most managers don't get let go after that kind of success, but it happened. Whether it was the right call is yet to be seen, but the lack of an experienced presence might hurt in the long run.
3 Greatest Asset: The Bullpen
You might ask, what about that potent Yankee lineup? While the lineup is powerful, they also have a lot of players who strikeout in it, making the bullpen their greatest strength.
The bullpen in 2018 has the chance to be better than they were in 2017. Every member of that 2017 relief corps will be back with the likes of David Robertson, Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, and more dangerous pieces. The Yankees have the ability to shorten games and that's just one of the ways they are a force to be reckoned with.
4 Greatest Liability: Inexperience at the helm
New manager Aaron Boone will take part in his first year coaching or managing at any level. The inexperience is something that Yankee fans should be worried about considering the expectations this team has.
If the Yankees get off to a poor start, it will be interesting to see how Boone handles the criticism and if he can convince this group to stick with it and things will turn around. Boone's inexperience can't be a reason for this team to take a step backward and if it does, things won't be pretty in the Bronx.
5 X-Factor: Gary Sanchez
With the year that Judge had and the addition of Stanton, Gary Sanchez has kind of been lost in the shuffle. It appears that some have forgotten the production that Sanchez has produced in his first year and a half in the big leagues. He hit 33 home runs and drove in 90 runs last year while missing a month of the season.
This season, Sanchez has the ability to do some major damage as he will most likely be hitting behind Judge and Stanton. Don't be surprised if Sanchez hits 40 home runs with well over 100 RBI because it could very well happen.
6 Final thoughts
This season has the chance to be very exciting for Yankee fans. This team is close to being perfectly constructed. They have a rotation that has the potential to be better than last year, plus a lineup that will hit close to 300 home runs and a bullpen that can shut the door.
The Yankees expectations are high once again with their sights not only on winning the AL East, but winning a World Series. They have the talent but the question is simple. Can they take that next step?
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