While the youngsters have taken center stage for the New York Yankees this season, the veterans have started to come through in the heat of the pennant race.
Whether it’s Aaron Judge‘s monstrous first half, Luis Severino‘s rise to Cy Young award consideration or Gary Sanchez emerging as one of baseball‘s best offensive catchers, the new generation of Yankees is a reason why their magic number to clinch a postseason berth stands at 13.
Yet, as October draws near, it’s undeniable that the youngsters need some guidance. A presence on the 25-man roster that has been there before. Lucky for them, they have all the mentorship they could possibly need — and two, in particular, are making an impact as the pennant race heats up.
Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has played in 39 career postseason games including two World Series as a member of the Boston Red Sox, is slashing .412/.524/.559 with 10 runs scored, three doubles, one triple and five RBI’s in 12 games the month of September.
His value comes right in the nick of time, as borderline All-Star Aaron Hicks landed back on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Reduced playing time that Ellsbury played himself into after batting .186 from June 26 to August 25.
“I’ve always felt like in order for us to get where we want to go, we have to have playing and playing well,” left fielder Brett Gardner told the NY Post. “He’s doing that now. And we’re going to need that for us to make the playoffs.’’
Ellsbury has been to the postseason many times and has played a key component in two championship runs for the current American League East leaders.
While he has influenced the lineup in a somewhat unexpected way, the recently acquired third baseman Todd Frazier is doing the same.
The 31-year-old has at least recorded at least one RBI in six of his last nine games, totaling eight RBI’s with a .417 OBP and an OPS of 1.009 over the stretch. Also in that stretch, the Yankees are 8-3 — the second-best record in the AL.
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Veteran contributions is a major key to success beyond the regular season. Matt Holliday owns 72 games of experience in the postseason and three World Series appearances. Brett Gardner, David Robertson and CC Sabathia were in the Bronx the last time they hoisted the commissioner’s trophy.
These are guys who have contributed immensely to the team’s success presently, who also contain playoff and World Series experience under their belts. That’s what you want in the clubhouse with a group of Baby Bombers.
Yes, the hype is rightfully surrounding the young stars on the Yankees’ roster as October draws near. That doesn’t mean you should forget about the old dogs. Ellsbury and Frazier are making their presence heard now, and that will do wonders as the franchise prepares for a title run.