The 2019 season is right around the corner for the New York Yankees and already they know the lesson they can learn from last season.
If the 2018 season was any indication for the New York Yankees, the most recognizable franchise in sports history is well on their way to their 28th World Series title.
Despite their impressive season coming to a disappointing halt in Boston in early October, the 2018 season goes down as a major success. With 100 wins under their belt and multiple superstars rising from the ashes, the Yankees definitely made their opponents suffer as the season wore on.
But not all opponents.
The 2019 slate opens with the Yankees playing an incredibly favorable schedule, facing off against opponents like the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. While they the first month of the season also features a matchup with both the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, the majority of their games seem to be easy wins.
The problem is that while the Yankees put together an amazing performance during the 2018 season, they didn’t dominate the teams they were supposed to dominate. Instead, they played down to their opponents’ levels, causing their W-L record to suffer in the process.
Take the Baltimore Orioles for example. The Birds finished with the worst record in baseball in 2018 at 47-115, making for easy pickings in the AL East. The Yankees finished 12-7, a respectable record when you consider the grand scheme of things. But the Red Sox did their damage.
The Red Sox owned a 16-3 record over the Orioles. They literally took advantage of the lowly Birds and made sure to crush them into the ground. The Yankees never did that, allowing the O’s to have a chance almost every game.
The Red Sox didn’t win the division just by being better than the Yankees. They won the division by crushing their lesser opponents, always winning the games they were expected to win.
Even with 100 wins, the Yankees could’ve had several more had they dominated teams below .500 just like they should have. Instead, the Bronx Bombers fell, dropping too many games to teams they shouldn’t.
Against the Tigers, the Yankees were 4-3, allowing 39 runs while scoring 40. They just squeaked past the Tampa Bay Rays with a 10-9 record.
This is the mistake the Yankees can’t make in 2019. They can’t afford to drop games to teams that are far below their skill level if they want to be serious World Series contenders.
Ultimately, the majority of their success will have to come against those teams who could serve as serious postseason competition. But don’t sleep on the little guys. One poor series against a low-caliber team can either make or break their march to the postseason.
The Yankees need to pounce early and often on these lackluster teams so that when the time comes to face off against the big guns, they’ll be ready to roll.
The Yankees couldn’t get it done last year. Because of that, the Yankees lost the division and ended up with a much more difficult route to October glory. That’s one mistake they can’t afford to make again.
Forget the injuries and other things they can’t control. The New York Yankees need to set their sights on the things they can control, including dominating their lesser opponents.
After all, they’re not called the “Evil Empire” for nothing.