5 Reasons Why the Yankees are Legit Contenders
The New York Yankees are baseball’s most iconic brand, but have not played on-par with the organization’s standards in a long time. While New York dominated the late 1990’s and early 2000’s with four championships, the team has failed to win a single playoff game since 2012. It’s only fitting that with one of its former “home-grown” stars — Derek Jeter — returning to the Bronx to have his number retired, New York is in the midst of a rebirth under a new crop of “Baby Bombers.”
The Yankees currently own the second-best winning percentage in all of MLB, surprising pundits and even die-hard fans en route to a 21–11 record. While New York’s core of promising youngsters figured to make this season exciting, contending for the division crown was not supposed to be in the cards. This team, while flawed, is not just an average team on an early hot streak, either. Here’s why the Yankees are serious contenders in 2017.
WINNING DESPITE KEY INJURIES
New York’s strong start to the season has come in spite of unexpected early injuries to three key players. Catcher Gary Sanchez, who nearly won rookie of the year last season, was sidelined for 21 games due to a strained biceps injury. Shortstop Didi Gregorius, a key run producer, missed 20 games after suffering a right shoulder injury just before the season started. First baseman Greg Bird struggled mightily through an ankle injury before the club placed him on the disabled list on May 2nd. For the Yankees to not only hold the fort together, but actually thrive, under those circumstances has been very encouraging.
YOUNG STARS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
While Sanchez and Bird were expected to be key players in 2017, the same could not be said for right fielder Aaron Judge and starter Luis Severino. Ironically, it’s Judge and Severino who have rose to the occasion thus far. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Judge has quickly taken the league by storm, showing off mammoth power and a solid all-around game scouts did not envision for him this early in his career. The 23-year-old Severino has also had a breakthrough year, showing off improved mechanics that have helped him strike out 45 batters in six starts.
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