By: Billy Lewis
Entering the season the New York Yankees were an intriguing team. The only certainty around the team was that the young kids would get a chance to play. Expectations were cloudy around the team, and most thought that playing meaningful games in September would be considered a success.
They struggled out of the gate going 1-4 to begin the year, and fans thought they were in for a long season. Then something funny happened, and everything seemed to click. They’d go on to win 20 out of their next 25 games and were sitting at 21-9 after 30 games.
Aaron Judge was hitting home runs farther than anybody has hit them, and Gary Sanchez showed that his short stint last season was not a fluke. Luis Severino has emerged as a legitimate ace, and one of the best pitchers in the American League.
Last year the Yankees were sellers at the Trade Deadline, and a year later they were back as buyers. They improved the team getting Todd Frazeir, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle in pre deadline deals. At the deadline they acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland A’s.
The aggressiveness of Yankees GM Brian Cashman showed the Yankees were no longer just happy with competing in September. These deals changed the Yankees expectations from playoff hopefuls to division champions. The Yankees were only a half game behind the Red Sox for the division lead on August 1st.
The Red Sox beat the A’s earlier this afternoon, so by the end of the night the Yankees will either be 3 or 4 games behind the Sox in the division. After today the Yankees will have 16 games remaining. It could take a Herculean effort to overtake the Red Sox for the division, especially because the two teams will no longer play each other.
The question has been asked, what would the Yankees need to do in order to consider 2017 a successful season. Early on people would say the Yankees are playing with house money because they weren’t expected to compete this year. After the torrid start the Yankees got off to, and then the trades that were made the expectations have changed around the Yankees.
Aaron Judge is the Rookie of the Year frontrunner in the American League, and Luis Severino should find himself as a top 3 Cy Young finalist. In order to consider this season a success the Yankees must play in a playoff series. The division may be a stretch for the Yanks, but they will (barring an epic collapse) find themselves in the playoffs. As the standings currently sit the Yankees would be hosting the Twins in the American League Wild Card Game.
The Yankees last made the playoffs in 2015, where they lost to the Houston Astros in the Wild Card Game. The Yankees success this regular season would make another Wild Card exit unacceptable. If the Yankees make the Wild Card Game and win it, this season would be successful. The New York Yankees may not be a World Series frontrunner, but if they make it to the dance in October, anything can happen.