Photo Credit: FiveThirtyEight
Seven consecutive seasons without a championship win isn’t many in a 30-team league. But in the Bronx, greatness is expected. Championships are expected to be won. Since winning their MLB-record 27th World Series in 2009, over twice as many as the next best team, the New York Yankees have underachieved and fallen short of that expected greatness.
Now, eight years later, that greatness has returned. And it’s done so in a form not many would have expected eight years ago. There is no more Derek Jeter. No more A-Rod. No more Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, or Robinson Cano, all players that made the 2009 teamthe powerhouse 103-win team that it was.
This year’s team, which has the best record in the MLB through May 7th (21-9), has none of those players listed above. Not one. Coming off of four consecutive seasons in which the Yankees failed to advance into a 5-game playoff series, this team wasn’t expected to be what it is right now. But what it is right now is unstoppable.
This year’s team is made up of plenty of greatness in its own right. The difference is that these players have not yet been recognized for what they are and what they have the potential to be. A couple weeks ago, only a select few would have heard of Aaron Judge, the 25-year-old rookie slugger that is tied for the MLB lead with 13 home runs, is tied for the MLB lead in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with 2.5, and became the first rookie to hit 13 home runs in the first 25 games of a season in MLB history. Now, he is a household name.
Starlin Castro, a player many people actually had heard of prior to this season, is only in his second season with the Yankees. He is an eighth year second baseman who, albeit a solid player, hit above .300 just once in his first seven seasons. But right now, he is currently leading the American League with a .358 batting average and is tied for 2nd in the majors with 44 hits.
Still not convinced that this team is great? Well, the start that the Yankees have had this season is no fluke, so eventually this point will get across. If it were a fluke, they wouldn’t be leading the American League in runs scored and leading the entire MLB in run differential, trailing only the Washington Nationals, an established star-studded Goliath of a team in the National League, for the MLB lead in runs scored. Also, despite not having a true Cy Young contender as a pitcher, the Yankees are 2nd in terms of least runs allowed in the American League and 3rd in the MLB.
No team gets to this point in the season with these kinds of players and numbers, both offensively and defensively, as a fluke. A fluke would be a hot, short stretch of games to start the season. Not 30 games. Not with what this team has accomplished and is accomplishing. It’s starting to seem like this team losing more than one game at a time is a fluke. At this point, it probably is. Greatness has returned to New York City. Make no mistake about it: the Bronx Bombers are back.