There’s no need to play it safe with predictions for the 2020 New York Yankees, because once the MLB season starts, anything is possible.
Here at the start of the year 2020, a reality TV star is entering his fourth year as U.S. President, Kanye West is now a gospel singer and the New York Yankees haven’t won a ring in 10 years. It’s a full-blown clown world, which means this is no time for conservative prognostications.
Besides, it’s always best to be prepared for every eventuality. Encountering the unexpected is stressful; stress can lead to irrational behavior and serious health issues.
Maybe if someone had gone extra bold with pinstripe prophecy ahead of the 2019 MLB season, no one would’ve blinked an eye when the Yankees sustained more injuries than an octogenarian in a mosh pit.
Instead, unprepared Yankees faithful were treated to heaps of unnecessary anxiety.
So, to help fans avoid heart attacks and other health problems that come from severe shock—both the good and bad kind—here are five of the craziest things that could actually happen to the New York Yankees in 2020.
1. The second coming of Babe Ruth
Mike Ford had one at-bat today.
He made it count.
— MLB (@MLB) September 1, 2019
In 1920, Babe Ruth broke out as an offensive legend with his first 50-home run season. Now, a perfectly symmetrical 100 years later, a similarly shaped lefty swinger will channel Ruth’s greatness.
That man is Mike Ford.
Last season, Ford demonstrated his potential with 12 homers and a .909 OPS in his first 50 major-league games.
Ford will steal Luke Voit’s spot at first base in Spring Training 2020, enticing manager Aaron Boone with his lefty stroke and a little bit of magic from the Babe. He’ll then proceed to break the rookie record for long balls with 54, the same number Ruth hit out of the park in 1920.
If Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso could top 50 dingers in their first full MLB seasons, why not Ford? Even the un-juiced ball that will likely show up this year won’t be able to stop the power of the paunch.
2. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit 120 HR
For your viewing pleasure:
Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton synchronized home runs.
— Hoodie Gleyber (@HoodieGleyber) June 8, 2018
Speaking of high home run totals, it’s time for the Aaron Judge–Giancarlo Stanton show to finally fulfill expectations. Injuries have kept the pair of sluggers from becoming the modern-day Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris over the past two seasons, and that will not be the case in 2020.
Judge and Stanton combined for 111 bombs in 2017, but they were on different teams and in opposite leagues. Stanton crushed 59 homers that year for the Miami Marlins, while Judge drilled 52 in his first full season in pinstripes.
In the two years since then, the pair has only mustered a combined total of 95 homers.
Both men are obviously capable of hitting 60 or more taters in a season. This year, they will do it together.
3. Gerrit Cole sucks
My personal favorite Gerrit Cole memory came in the 2015 NL Wild Card game. pic.twitter.com/1uLPHKHArX
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) December 11, 2019
When the Yankees gave Gerrit Cole a record-setting $324 million over nine years to be their ace, they immediately became the favorites to win the 2020 World Series. But no matter how good Cole has proven himself to be, that’s enough pressure to make anyone fall apart.
Plus, there’s the fact that Cole has increasingly trended toward being a fly ball pitcher the past two seasons. That does not bode well in his new stomping grounds.
According to FanGraphs, the MLB average fly ball rate has hovered right around 35%for the past several years. After inducing below-average fly ball percentages in his first five seasons, Cole jumped to 43% and 39% in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
More importantly, lefties hit the most fly balls against him, coming in at 47% and 46% in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Cole tied a career-high in 2019 by allowing 18% of those fly balls by left-handed batsmen to leave the yard.
That trend will continue, with the right-field short porch in the Bronx causing Cole to experience a significant uptick in home runs against. A little bad luck against the wrong lefty in a big spot will snowball and crush this fragile pitcher’s psyche.
4. The Yankees become so desperate for a lefty bat they bring back Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury just pulled off a clean straight steal of home. This is beautiful to watch https://t.co/jLAgcAfX3p
— Baseball Fam (@ShtBallPlayrsDo) April 23, 2016
Currently, the Yankees’ starting lineup projects to have one lefty: Brett Gardner, who technically has yet to officially sign his reported new deal. Throw in Mike Ford and a healthy chunk of fourth outfielder/designated hitter time for Mike Tauchman, and there will sometimes be three lefties.
But Gardner is reaching a ripe old age of fragility (he’ll turn 37 in August), and Tauchman showed his humanity with an injury at the end of the 2019 season. Switch-hitting Aaron Hicks won’t be back until sometime in June or July, and that’s only assuming there’s no delay in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
A few strategically placed lightning bolts from the baseball gods and the Yankees will be desperately searching for a lefty bat to take advantage of their short porch in right.
At that point, Jacoby Ellsbury will still be a free agent, and the Bombers will figure, why not? They’re already paying him a ton of money anyway.
He’ll want to play so badly that he’ll even let the Yankees have the portion of his salary they’re trying to recoup just for a chance to return to the field.
5. Aaron Boone has a third-straight 100-win season… and is fired
The single hardest thing Aaron Boone has done as manager of the Yankees is trying to understand what this guy is trying to say. pic.twitter.com/Ol7JvBlQV9
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) July 21, 2019
Boone has yet to taste the sting of winning less than 100 games in his young managerial career. In 2020, he’ll likely reach triple-digit wins yet again, but when he fails to deliver the ultimate goal of a Commissioner’s Trophy, he’ll have to take that phenomenal regular-season success either to another franchise or back to the broadcast booth.
How is this possible? The new and improved Hal Steinbrenner, reborn in the image of his reckless father, that’s how.
Prior to the 2019 offseason, Hal appeared to be a penny pincher. But when he bathed Gerrit Cole in money, things changed.
If Hal can spend like George, he can also develop an itchy firing finger as his father possessed in the 1970s and 1980s when he changed managers like he was working tires in a NASCAR pitstop. Unfortunately for Boone, he currently stands squarely in the center of Steinbrenner’s crosshairs.
While the subject of borderline crazy predictions is being broached, here are a few for the rest of the MLB:
- Shohei Ohtani will win 20 games as a pitcher and hit 20 home runs…in 2020.
- Bryce Harper will miss his second-straight All-Star Game.
- Tim Tebow will finally make it to the MLB, and he’ll homer in his debut.
There’s an epic year of baseball ahead. Pay attention to see if any of these preposterous Yankees forecasts come true, or just enjoy watching whatever happens.