1. If … Tanaka Continues To Dominate
If it weren’t for Sanchez’s rise to stardom in August, Masahiro Tanaka takes home the honor of “team MVP” for 2016.
Through 31 starts (199.2 innings), the 28-year old went 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA — good enough for sixth best among qualified AL starting pitchers.
More impressively, however, New York went 23-8 in games in which their ace took the hill, a 120-win proportion.
If you want to take a fun approach to see where the Yankees would be without Tanaka, take that 23-8 and record and assume any other starter would manage only five fewer wins in his total appearances.
That would be an 18-13 record meaning instead of New York finishing 84-78, they’d have their first losing season since 1992 and finish 14 games out of the AL East. Ouch.
I said it during the regular season: His value? Impeccable. His dominance? Extraordinary. His passion? Immeasurable.
This organization simply could not create a better ace than Tanaka has been since coming over from Japan, and if he could continue his 2016 season into next year, they have their big game pitcher.
Now, are all these “ifs” working out in the Yankees favor a realistic possibility? Absolutely not. However, this goes to show you how much potential this team has even before any moves being made.
If Cashman and Girardi had a magic wand, their first act of witchcraft would be to make all these possibilities come true, a trick that would transform this mediocre Yankees’ team into world conquerors.