The Yankees will be a World Series contender in 2019 and while they have a lot of strengths, they also have a lot of weaknesses.
So, I highlighted a few strengths and weaknesses of this Yankee team. Let’s get started.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been a strength for several years now and this year is no different. The bullpen is absolutely loaded with star power. And it might just be the best bullpen of all time.
Last season, the Yankees’ bullpen posted the highest WAR of any relief corps in Major League History. And they returned everyone from that ‘pen except for David Robertson, who was worth 1.5 WAR last year. So, what did they do? They went out and signed Adam Ottavino, who was worth 2.0 WAR last season.
Not only that, but they also get a full season of a healthy Zack Britton. The rich continue to get richer.
The Yankees broke the record for the most home runs in a single season in 2018. They did so with Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius all missing significant time due to injury. In addition, Giancarlo Stanton was forced to play on a faulty hamstring to keep the Bombers in the playoff race.
It’s not hard to imagine the Yankees blowing past their new record with a full season from Judge and a bounce-back year from Sanchez after an entire offseason to recover. Sir Didi will be out for more than half the season, but a healthy Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton could make this offense even more dangerous.
The Starting Rotation
This is usually thought of as weakness for the Yankees, but not this year. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about why New York has one of the best rotations in all of baseball.
The Yankees ranked fourth in the American League in bWAR and second in fWAR in both 2017 and 2018. But not only that. The team’s strikeout, walk, and home run rates are all in the top five in the league over the last two years as well.
Sonny Gray, Luis Cessa, Domingo German, Lance Lynn, and Jonathan Holder combined to start 52 times in 2018. And the Yankees still sustained their pitching success. Now, they’ll add James Paxton and (a full season of) JA Happ to a rotation that already features Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia.
This is the Yankees’ biggest weakness going into 2019. And they didn’t do much to shore it up. Everyone knows how bad Miguel Andujar was last season at the hot corner, but Gleyber Torres actually committed more errors while playing in fewer games.
Everyone also knows about Gary Sanchez’s inability to block balls behind the plate. Sanchez led the big leagues in passed balls and he only played in 76(!) games. And the combination of Luke Voit/Greg Bird is very poor in the field as well.
Add in the fact that the Yankees’ best defender, Didi Gregorius, will miss the majority of the season, and you can see why this would be a huge flaw. Of course, we should expect some improvement from Torres and Andujar, but Troy Tulowitzki is supposedly replacing Gregorius. He’ll probably hurt more than he’ll help.
Swings and misses
With big swings comes a lot of misses. While the Yankees led the Majors in home runs last season, they also struggled to put the ball in play a lot of the time.
The Yankees struck out the ninth most of any team last year, and that was with a couple of their biggest strikeout guys missing significant time with injury (Judge and Sanchez).
There’s not much the Yankees can do about this. They chose to build a team that lives off the long ball. And as long as they’re swinging for the fences, they’re going to miss a lot. Hopefully, it doesn’t become too big of a problem.
Hitting with runners in scoring position
Seriously, it’s like the Yankees forget how to hit when a runner gets in scoring position. It was so frustrating to watch last season. The swings and misses noted above is a big reason why. These guys are swinging for the fence and they won’t always put the ball in play.
However, they might want to change their approach with runners in scoring position this year. It’s painful to watch sometimes. And they didn’t really sign anyone who might help with the problem (see Manny Machado or Bryce Harper).
The New York Yankees will be a very good baseball team in 2019. Every team has their strengths and weaknesses. You just have to hope that your weaknesses don’t outweigh your strengths.
I don’t think that’ll be a problem for these Yankees, but it’s good to recognize them early.