In the middle of one of the hottest starts in baseball, the New York Yankees may have more in store in 2017.
How about them New York Yankees?
Following a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night, the Yankees have won eight straight — their longest April winning streak since 2000 — and have won their first seven games at home for the first time since 1998. For those who don’t know, the Bombers took home the commissioner’s trophy in each of those two years.
New York’s offense leads the majors in offensive WAR (3.2), wRC+ (128), on-base percentage (.353) and sit in the top five in home runs (18), runs scored (67), walks (58), batting average (.267) and stolen bases (12).
Their bullpen owns the second-lowest ERA (1.36) in the league while the rotation, even after a dismal start, owns the third-best strikeout rate (9.20 K/9) and the fourth-best in xFIP (3.46).
Who would have thought that the Yankees, in the midst of a transitional year, would be tied with the Houston Astros for the most wins in the American League? Better yet, who would have thought this team would rank fourth in slugging percentage without Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez or Greg Bird? And who would have thought that the rotation would rank towards the top of the league in most starting pitching categories with an ineffective Masahiro Tanaka?
That’s right, this torrid start is going down without production from four cornerstones of the 2017 New York Yankees. Instead, it’s the new Chase Headley, the monstrous Aaron Judge, a Jacoby Ellsbury with everything to prove and guys like Ronald Torreyes, Aaron Hicks and Austin Romine filling the void to utter perfection.
Hard to believe, but you better believe it. Manager Joe Girardi is leading the hottest team in baseball with a 5-foot-7 journeyman shortstop, a fourth outfielder and a backup catcher getting everyday chances to contribute thanks to unfortunate injuries.
Just like we like to preach patience and don’t like to overreact to a hot/slow start, no one saw 9-4 coming. Not after a 1-4 start, not after seeing what the rotation looks like and especially not after Sanchez, who was supposed to be the source if any success here in 2017, reached for his biceps muscle on April 8.
Now imagine when the backstop, who tied Wally Berger as the fastest player to reach 20 home runs last year, returns to action. Imagine when Gregorius, who became just the third Yankees’ shortstop to hit 20 home runs and bat over .275 last season, puts his shoulder injury behind him. Imagine when Bird, who was on a 38 home run pace two years ago and entered the regular season as the unofficial spring training MVP, builds on his moonshot from Sunday. Imagine when Tanaka, who ranked third in the AL in ERA last year, wakes up.
Yes, they have played the 6-8 Rays, the 4-9 Cardinals and the 6-6 White Sox during this winning streak, but whichever way you look at it, they are outplaying the opposition in every facet of the game.
It’s a team effort on a daily basis and although no Wild Card spot, division title, pennant of World Series title is won in April, there’s no denying how well this Yankees’ squad has performed as of late.
Perhaps this column becomes a non-factor by next week, but once Girardi gets his most talented ballplayers performing at they level they can and two of the most prominent players on the roster return from the disabled list, this team can continue to do what they’re doing right now: shocking the world.