Here come the Yankees

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Updated: May 1, 2017

The Yankees are the top story of the first half of the season as they have come out swinging and currently sit in first place in the AL East. This season was supposed to belong to the Boston Red Sox, but the Yankees have looked like the better team early. It’s not just a few lucky breaks here and there either, the Yanks have a +43 run differential which is the best in the American League.

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The big story early is Aaron Judge who has absolutely been crushing baseballs. His ten homeruns lead the team and he has carried the offense at times. They’ve also gotten big contributions from Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley. That probably won’t continue at quite this level, but the wins are banked and this team is currently in a great position to seize on the Wild Card spots at the very least.

What is scary about this offense is how much better it could be or should I say will be. Didi Gregorius just came back this weekend and he’s already added a big boost to the offense. Gary Sanchez is currently out with an injury while Greg Bird hasn’t quite hit as expected yet. Those two are expected to be the cores of this offense for years to come so getting them on track could be scary for the rest of the American League. There is also, the glut of prospects currently in the minor leagues for this team as well. Clint Frazier will be ready soon and Gleyber Torres could step in down the line if Castro falters.

Of course, they wouldn’t be here without the pitching. The bullpen has been great. You expect that from Aroldis Chapman and Delin Betances, but the contributions from Jonathan Holder, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren have really set them apart. They are an underrated group and definitely a strength of this team. One thing to watch going forward with this bullpen is their left on base percentage. Chasen Shreve, Betances, Clippard and Chapman are all sitting at 88%+ which seems unsustainable. League average LOB% is around 72%.

The rotation, as we always knew, is the one spot in this lineup that could use an upgrade. Michael Pineda has started to live up to his reputation a bit this year and Luis Severino has been an early breakout star. Masahiro Tanaka continues to be solid, but the last two is a bit up in the air. CC Sabathia is always vulnerable and I’m not sure I trust Jordan Montgomery yet.

New York will be a hitting team this year though and they will go as far as their offense can take them. If Aaron Judge can prove this isn’t a fluke, Sanchez comes back strong and Bird becomes the guy we saw in 2015 then this could be a truly scary team. The pre-season projections at FanGraphs had them as a 79-83 team, but this month alone has improved them to a projected record of 86-76. That would be the fourth best team in the American League with a 57% chance of making the playoffs. April baseball matters.

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