Even though the New York Yankees are off to a (meaningless) nice start to the 2017 season, the celestial expectations need a reality check.
The New York Yankees are 8-2 and off to a terrific start to spring training. They are ranked second in ERA (2.94), tied for third in strikeouts (82), first in batting average against (.181) and first in runs scored (68).
The kids have the fan base oozing with excitement, which is completely justified as Gary Sanchez throwing runners out from his knees, Aaron Judge putting dents on scoreboards and Greg Bird mashing is unquestionably compelling to watch.
It’s also fascinating to observe Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, Clint Frazier and James Kaprielian at major league camp, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind when talking about these youngsters.
First off, the trio of Sanchez, Judge and Bird has yet to play a full major league season. You know, the grueling 162-game grind that will put their minds and bodies to the ultimate test as they attempt to develop. For the even younger Baby Bombers, to think all of them will be playing at a high level in the majors in 2017, or at any point, is as far-fetched as it gets.
In fact, thinking that spring training renders over into the regular season is even more far-fetched and drifting towards the foolish side.
Since 2010, Adonis Garcia owns the highest batting average (.441) among Yankees’ hitters with at least 20 games played in spring training. The now-31-year-old outfielder never played in a major league game with New York and was released five years after his blazing hot spring. Since 2011, five out of the six teams that finished with the best overall spring training record did not make the postseason, and only two finished above .500.
So, that’s just a friendly reminder that the 8-2 start, the high rankings when compared to the rest of the league and the false confidence that originates from a bunch of exhibition games in which players who likely will start the year in Triple-A, Double-A or lower play against each other mean absolutely nothing. Sorry if you thought otherwise, but let’s get back to the Yankees.
There are simply too many questions surrounding this team to be remotely confident about the possibility of competing for a playoff spot come September. If a ton goes right for this team and they endure a healthy season, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a postseason spot going to New York in 2017.
But that’s only if they shock everyone. Remember, it took Gary Sanchez‘s historic start to his career to bring the Yankees back into relevancy in 2016. Will it happen again? It could, but no one should be anticipating a 95-100 win season, a championship or zero growing pains in the Bronx this year — despite the fact that many are setting nonsensical expectations based on game results in Tampa.
These are not the 1996 Yankees. Miguel Andujar — coming off one solid season in the minors — will not keep general manager Brian Cashman from investing in perennial MVP candidate, Manny Machado. Aaron Judge doesn’t have to worry about the assumed signing of Bryce Harper. Yet, those are storylines for some reason.
What this team is, however, is a team that will require patience, patience and more patience.
This whole campaign needs to be dedicated to determining which of the young talent remains in pinstripes as opposed to who gets used as trade bait in the offseason — a time when the Yankees plan to combine their young talent with some stars out of the 2018 legendary free agent draft class that includes superstars Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado.
This franchise is not far from exploding into another dynasty. But it’s up to Yankees fans to be patient as the team matures in 2017. Because much like the Chicago Cubs did in 2015 when they assessed and made necessary roster adjustments before their World Series title in 2016, the Yankees are on the track to do the same.
Temper your expectations, fans of the Bombers. We haven’t seen anything close to a decent sample size from these athletes to even consider comparing them to the best in the game or expect a commissioner’s trophy in seven months.
The added pressure caused by the vicious fans of New York has affected prospects in the past (remember the Killer B’s?), and it’s time that every fan takes a step back and realizes this without being clouded by meaningless games in March.