New York Yankees
ESNY Graphic

The New York Yankees are going to do big things in 2019. Here are some ideas as to what fans can expect to happen.

Opening Day 2019 is less than a week away and the New York Yankees are locked and loaded.

Between a strong spring training, improvements to the roster, and winning 100 games last season, this year could indeed be a big one for the Bronx Bombers.

At least, that’s what the Yankees and their fans hope. Injuries, inconsistency, and the red-hot Boston Red Sox meant the Yankees had to settle for another AL Wild Card win. That ended with a serious drubbing at the hands of Boston in the ALDS just one year after being one win from the World Series.

Not this year, Yankees fans. No, the team demands better results from itself and seems determined to be baseball’s alpha dog in 2019.

How much so, you ask? Well, here are some predictions as to just how great the Yankees will be this season.

Masahiro Tanaka wins the AL Cy Young

Long before Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka was the hands-down ace of the Yankees. He pitched to a 3.12 ERA in his first three seasons and proved able to adjust accordingly after home run troubles in 2017.

Fast forward to today, and Tanaka looks better than ever. He went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four Spring Training starts and struck out 20 hitters in 15 innings. He also allowed just three walks. Tanaka has also been adding a knuckle curve to the mix, which should result in more strikeouts.

Tanaka has looked so good early on, I even said he could be a dark horse candidate for the AL Cy Young Award. Well, with Opening Day nearby and Tanaka not faltering late in camp, consider this an early prediction.

The New York Yankees will have a great 2019, much in part to Tanaka’s first-ever Cy Young season.

James Paxton gives him a run for his money

Speaking of Tanaka’s Cy Young Award, he’ll win it in a fight to the death with new teammate James Paxton. The Canadian southpaw was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason and immediately made himself at home. In four spring training starts, Paxton went 2-0 with an eye-popping 0.85 ERA.

So long as he can stay healthy, and even if he misses a start or two, expect him to run neck and neck with Tanaka for the AL Cy Young. Their race will be compared to 1984 when Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield channeled Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in the race for the AL batting crown.

Throw in Luis Severino‘s return from injury, and the Yankees suddenly have a three-headed pitching monster that could give hitters fits. Throw in Paxton and Tanaka’s Cy Young battle, and that trio becomes even more fun to watch.

Giancarlo Stanton has a monster year

Stanton was expected to put up big numbers when he arrived in the Bronx. After all, he had just won the NL MVP trophy and led baseball with 59 home runs and 132 RBI. Throw in Yankee Stadium’s dimensions, and a historic season was all but certain, no?

Stanton didn’t put up video game-like numbers in 2018 but still had an overall good year. He hit .266 with 38 home runs and 100 RBI, both of which led the team. If those numbers seem low, keep in mind Stanton also played much of the second half on a bad hamstring. Yet, he stayed in the lineup and put the team on his back as Aaron Judge recovered from a broken wrist. He alone kept New York in the playoff race with this selfless action.

Well, folks, good news. Judge and Stanton are both fully healthy and ready to be that 1-2 punch in the lineup. Stanton himself hit .342 in Spring Training and should enjoy an excellent year batting behind Judge.

And speaking of Judge …

Aaron Judge wins AL MVP

After slugging 52 home runs as a rookie in 2017, everyone expected Judge to come back at a similar pace last season. He didn’t quite match it, but was still having a strong overall season as the heart and soul of New York.

Judge was hitting .285 with 26 home runs and 61 RBI when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken wrist in July. He missed seven weeks of action before returning Sept. 18 and hit .333 with a homer and six RBI the rest of the way.

The Aaron Judge of 2019 will thus be all the more effective. Judge entered camp looking to be an even more powerful hitter across the board. He hit .343 with six home runs and 15 RBI in Spring Training, making a greater effort to hit to the opposite field.

This new approach will have Judge taking more advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field. Granted, he’ll still have his fair share of tape measure home runs, but 2019 is going to be about keeping the other team guessing.

The results will speak for themselves as Judge not only has a year comparable to his rookie season but takes home the MVP Award when it’s all over.

Yankees win the AL East

Put all of the preceding predictions together, and they result in a final one. Thanks to a combination of strong pitching and a motivated lineup, the New York Yankees will win the AL East in 2019. This will mark their first divisional crown since 2012 when Raul Ibanez‘s playoff heroics were the talk of the town.

The fact of the matter is despite 100 wins last year, a lot went wrong for the Yankees. Key injuries came at the worst time. There was a noticeable lack of hustle against sub-.500 teams. The pitching staff largely proved hit or miss in the second half, and the Red Sox practically waltzed to the AL East crown and, subsequently, winning the World Series.

Not this year, folks. Boston’s bullpen is shakier than the bridge in Temple of DoomNew York’s, in comparison, is practically the Death Star.

Throw in a revamped rotation and healthy lineup, and all signs point to the Yankees ruling the roost once again.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.