Randy Levine caused offseason waves by comparing the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox. Just how realistic is this statement?
It’s been weeks since Randy Levine put a target on the back of the New York Yankees. As if it wasn’t enough that the Boston Red Sox had a trophy to hold over their heads, now they have those 11 words to feed off of.
“I think we’re as good as the Red Sox right now,” Levine told reporters at Yankee Stadium.
After the initial heckling died down, the Yankees were left with a reputation to uphold. The president of the Yankees believes they’re as good as the Red Sox.
Now they have to prove it.
While Levine believes that the Yankees are on par with the Red Sox, he’s right … in a way. However, the Red Sox are the ones holding the trophy and defending their title. The Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs by that very team.
On paper, the Yankees and Red Sox seem pretty even.
They both have an absolute stud manning right field (Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts), a legitimate ace (Luis Severino and Chris Sale), an elite closer (Aroldis Chapman and, currently, Craig Kimbrel), as well as young studs dotting the rest of the field (Gary Sanchez and Andrew Benintendi among others). Oh, and we can’t forget the reliable home run hitters who cost an arm and a leg yet still produce (J.D. Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton).
On the field, it was an entirely different story.
While this Yankees team that took the field in 2018 had the potential to be star-studded World Series team. While they were impressive, they were never a complete team. And that’s exactly what they’re looking like heading into the 2019 season.
That’s the problem here. On paper, these teams look to be just what Levine said. They look incredibly similar. Comparing position to position, everyone taking the field is fairly even. But when you watch them play against each other, the cracks in the armor become glaringly visible, especially in terms of the Yankees.
Sadly, not all players performed up to expectations this past season. They went through slumps where a few players were on hot streaks while the rest of the lineup went ice cold. Pitchers went through phases, most famously when Luis Severino began tipping his pitches.
But they were also missing various pieces that would have made them that complete team that would be able to truly compete with the Red Sox.
The Yankees never were a threat on the base paths. While the Red Sox could count on four or five players to swipe bases to put them in scoring position, the Yankees had really only one in the aging Brett Gardner. With 16 stolen bases on the season, the Red Sox had three players with more than that last season alone (Betts, Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr.).
The Yankees also couldn’t string together hits with runners in scoring position, relying on the long ball to provide the majority of their runs. They batted a disappointing .253 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox, on the other hand, posted a .289 batting average with RISP.
And these flaws showed, especially when the Yankees took on the Red Sox. In fact, in 2018 the Red Sox were the only team the Yankees had a losing record against (9-10). That is one clear indication of just how they stack up against the Red Sox.
But that was last season. This season will be completely different, especially with the Yankees potentially signing a free agent like Manny Machado to help out the lineup. Right now, they still don’t quite stack up against the juggernaut at Fenway Park.
Nothing against Randy Levine here but he is absolutely incorrect. The Yankees have made moves this offseason but nothing to truly bolster their lineup in a huge way. Right now, the Red Sox have the edge with their championship trophy.
Next year? Who knows. But let’s not count the New York Yankees out. When their backs are up against that proverbial wall, they play their best baseball.