The Boston Red Sox officially made their big splash, signing J.D. Martinez to a five-year deal. Now, the New York Yankees top rivalry is back to where it used to be.
It has been a while since both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were the powerhouses of the American League and for that matter, Major League Baseball as a whole. It was the rivalry everyone could not wait to watch and now, suddenly, it’s back.
With the Yankees acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the Red Sox adding J.D. Martinez, fans are going to see the Bombers and Sawx be at the top again, battling for the AL East title for years to come.
The rivalry had fallen off for quite some time and was at a standstill. The Red Sox missed the postseason from 2010-2012 while the Yankees won the division each of those three seasons. In 2013, the Yankees missed out on the postseason while the Red Sox were World Series champions. In 2014, both teams missed out on October ball. In 2015 and 2016, the teams played a combined one postseason game, with the Yankees losing to the Astros in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game.
Last season was the first time since 2009 that both the Yankees and Red Sox made the postseason and it took the Red Sox until Game 161 to clinch the division, despite the Yankees going 11-8 against Boston.
The largest lead by either team in the division race was 5.5 games. The division race was neck and neck all season long.
However, both teams were full of youngsters last year, with most of the players on each roster not having much experience in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
Last year was just a preview. This year, and for years to come, it’s showtime.
With the Yankees’ acquisition of the reigning National League MVP, the Bronx Bombers became the hunted once again, especially by the Red Sox.
But the Sox are getting a 30-year old Martinez who is coming off of the best season of his career, despite playing just 119 games.
Martinez hit a career-high 45 home runs, drove in a career-high 104 runs, and slugged a career-high .690. In Arizona, he slugged .741, hit 29 home runs, and had 65 RBI in 62 games.
The Yankees are still the overwhelming favorite to win the division, listed at -105 on Odds Shark, but other than the Red Sox at +185, no one else really comes close. The Blue Jays are at +600, while the Rays and Orioles are +1000 and +1400, respectively.
The Yankees power goes without saying—but we’re going to say it anyway: Stanton, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius.
But the Red Sox, despite hitting the least amount of home runs in the American League last year, have the power they so desperately needed, all while there is still a chance for guys like Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts to hit some dingers. Even Eduardo Nunez hit eight home runs in 38 games with the Sox last year.
Both squads also have a bonafide ace who finished top three in the American League Cy Young Award voting. Chris Sale was the first American League pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out 300 batters, while Luis Severino set the Yankees’ franchise record for most strikeouts in a season at just the age of 23.
Sale notched a 2.90 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97 while Severino’s ERA and WHIP were 2.98 and 1.04.
The Yankees and Red Sox also both have, arguably, a top-10 rotation. (You can read all about the Yankees’ starting pitchers that ranked fifth in ERA and second in batting average against here.) Red Sox starters pitched to a 4.06 ERA, ranked eighth in the majors, while hitters batted .253 against them, good enough for ninth in the league.
Both of these numbers also come with off-years by Masahiro Tanaka, David Price, and Rick Porcello. If they each pitch to their potential, those numbers can definitely be lower this year.
Both bullpens ranked in the top three in ERA (Boston’s was second with 3.15, while the Yankees’ was third 3.34) and top four in BAA (Yankees: .201, Boston: .223). Keep in mind the Yankees bullpen ranked 26th in ERA from June 12 to July 14, as it rose to 5.09 in that time span. Without those 26 games, the bullpen’s ERA was a 2.98.
Both teams are absolutely loaded with star power. The Yankees have the reigning NL MVP, the runner-up for the AL MVP, a top-three pitcher in the AL, arguably the best offensive catcher in baseball, and a top-five shortstop in the MLB. They are a legitimate threat to break the record for the most home runs hit by a team in a season (264 by the 1997 Mariners, a team that had Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez).
The Red Sox now have one of the best power hitters from last season, a favorite to win last year’s MVP heading into the season, a top-two finisher in the Cy Young voting last year, two Cy Young Award winners, and arguably the best closer in Major League Baseball.
It has been a long time since the hatred was felt in this rivalry, but with both teams now becoming powerhouses over the offseason, it’s back and it could be better than ever.