The analytics-driven New York Yankees haven’t won a World Series in nine years, so maybe it’s time to try a simple visualization technique.
Ever since the New York Yankees choked in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I’ve fancied myself a bit of a pinstripe pessimist. My negative perspective was only reinforced as I suffered through years of Mark Teixeira hammering his career into the shift and the shame of Alex Rodriguez’s lies and PEDs.
But then came the Yankees’ youth movement, prematurely popping off in 2017. I entered the 2018 season as an optimist, only to be crushed at the hands of the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.
Now, as 2019 approaches, I’m in grave danger of becoming a doomsayer yet again. (Fickle, I know.)
That’s why I’ve decided to put together a vision board for the Bombers. I may not be able to take the mound in the Bronx or even call up Aaron Boone to offer some armchair management advice, but I can at least throw some positive energy out into the universe.
If it works, I’m expecting a full postseason share when the Yankees win the World Series.
Image 1: Judge + Stanton = 100 home runs
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton combined for 111 home runs in 2017, but they did so on separate teams. When they teamed up in 2018, Judge’s DL stint and Stanton’s reduced output resulted in just 65 blasts between them.
It’s time for this powerful duo to actually join forces and put up some historical numbers.
Judge and Stanton could also break the Maris/Mantle record of 115 combined home runs, also set in 1961.
Both of the current Yankees sluggers have 60-plus power in their bats. A little friendly competition between teammates could also be a replay of the 1998 home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
Only this time it’s better because there won’t be any steroids (hopefully).
But I’ll settle for an even 100 blasts. It would be the sixth time teammates have combined to hit the century mark, and the third time those teammates have been in pinstripes.
The best part is that both the 1961 and 1927 Yankees went on to win the World Series. Judge and Stanton would definitely love to keep that trend going.
Image 2: 300 team home runs
If the Judge and Stanton home run visualization works, then it’s conceivable that the Yankees could reach 300 home runs as a team. It sounds crazy, but it’s really not.
Think of it this way: The Yankees set the record in 2018 with 267 home runs. Judge and Stanton combined for only 65, which means the rest of the team mashed 202.
That plays out something like this:
100 Judge/Stanton HR + 202 other HR = 302
Of course, there are way too many variables for it to be that simple. You have to subtract home runs for Judge’s backups and account for roster changes, injuries, and so much more.
But don’t forget about Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit.
Sanchez only contributed 18 dingers this season, as he missed time with various injuries. If he can stay healthy, he’s a candidate for 30-40 long balls.
And then there’s Luke Voit. Yankees fans got a sweet taste of his power at the end of the year.
He’s not going to hit home runs at the rate he did in 2018; that would give him around 56 home runs in a full season. Still, it’s not crazy to think Voit could throw up 30 bombs if he wins the first base job.
One factor that works against the Yankees is Didi Gregorius and his 27 home runs missing in 2019. However, it’s possible they replace him with Manny Machado’s 35-plus homer power, which would almost make a 300 home run season an underachievement.
I really don’t want Machado and his cup of lackadaisical tea. But if he does come to New York, I’ll console myself with this thought: the Yankees could actually crush their home run record from 2018 with just the starting lineup.
100 Judge/Stanton HR + 60 Sanchez/Voit HR + 35 Machado HR + 90 other HR = 285
Austin Romine and the rest of the bench can chip in the other 15 home runs, and here we are back at 300.
Image 3: Gary’s Gold Glove alchemy
Yeah, this one’s borderline insane.
Gary Sanchez winning the highest defensive honor is tantamount to an alchemist turning a turd into a bar of gold. But Sanchez might have found that alchemist in 13-time Gold Glover Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez:
Part of wanting to get better is wanting to learn from those who have been great and done it before you. Thank you for the knowledge @Pudge_Rodriguez // Parte de querer ser mejor es aprender de quienes ya fueron grandes antes que tu. Gracias a @Pudge_Rodriguez por sus consejos. pic.twitter.com/B2GwBYOUdd
— Gary Sanchez (@ElGarySanchez) November 7, 2018
This “knowledge” Sanchez speaks of receiving might have only been a couple tips shared over a glass of beer, but hey, maybe that’s all he needs. Sanchez has enough athleticism, it’s just a matter of fixing his fundamentals and technique.
What does Gary Sánchez's former manager make of last night in Oakland?
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 6, 2018
It’s the offseason now; time for Gary to get to work. If he can just limit the damage as far as passed balls are concerned, the rest of his game is ready for award recognition.
SB Nation’s Tyler Norton pointed out that Sanchez was one of the top 10 pitch framers in the MLB in 2018, and Yankees fans all know about Sanchez’s cannon of an arm.
Also, Sanchez puts down the right fingers behind the dish. “I think he’s a great game caller, he’s our best game caller on the staff,” Brian Cashman recently told WFAN’s Boomer and Gio, per Barstool Sports’ Eric Hubbs.
Pudge won a Gold Glove in 1993 with 14 passed balls and 42 wild pitches getting by him. Sanchez should be able to easily get his numbers down in that range with some extra work this offseason.
Note to Aaron Boone
Put down the iPad loaded with advanced analytics, and hang this vision board up on your office wall.
Deep dives into numbers are great for predicting patterns and the means which players regress from and progress. But what the Yankees really need to put the Red Sox in their place next year is unwavering confidence.
Maybe chasing records and dipping Gary Sanchez’s glove in gold paint is enough to lock in some championship swagger.
Now, close your eyes, visualize, and fill the Bronx up with good vibes.