By: Billy Lewis
The New York Yankees were sluggish out of the gate in 2018. They were 9-9 after their first 18 games but have since caught fire. They head into the All-Star break with the second-best winning percentage in the MLB. They sit at 62-33 which is good for a .653 winning percentage. Their biggest issue is the team with the best winning percentage is also in the AL East. The Red Sox are 68-30 with a .694 winning percentage.
It seems as of late the Red Sox just don’t lose. Heading into the All-Star break Boston is 9-1 in their last 10 games and thus the Yankees sit 4.5 back in the division. Even with Boston’s torrid pace, Yankee fans should not feel concerned.
The Bronx Bombers have played well and it seems like there is room for improvement. Gary Sanchez hasn’t played since June 24 and when he was in there he had a triple slash of .190/.291/.433. He was putting up decent power numbers with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs but Sanchez is much better than a .190 hitter. He hit .299 in his brief stint in 2016 and then .278 last year in his first full season. Sanchez should be back after the All-Star break and I would expect him to heat up soon.
Greg Bird is another guy who has struggled at the plate. Some of his struggles can be contributed to rust as Bird only came back from an injury in late May. Bird only has 164 plate appearances this season and his bat has been coming around as of late.
The biggest story of the first half for the Yankees has been the success of their young players. Miguel Andujar has manned third base since early April and has done a fantastic job. He’s hitting .279 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs. The Yankees showed faith in Andujar by not including him in a trade package for Gerrit Cole in the offseason. Andujar has rewarded the Yankees by putting up a rookie of the year caliber first half.
What could stand in Andujar’s way of winning Rookie of the Year? His teammate, Gleyber Torres. Torres was called up April 22 and has put a stranglehold on the second base job. Torres is hitting .294 with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs. Torres went on the DL after the Yankees July 4th game, but should also be back after the All-Star Break.
Starting pitching has been the biggest area of concern for the Yankees. Sonny Gray has been absolutely abysmal. Gray is pitching to a 5.46 ERA and has Yankee fans nervous everytime he touches the mound. Gray pitched well in his last start before the Break. He threw six shutout innings against the Orioles with eight strikeouts and only one walk.
I still believe Gray will have a huge impact down the stretch. I was a big fan of the Sonny Gray trade last year and do think he will turn his season around and become somebody the Yankees can count on.
The Orioles can be looked at as the reason the Yankees are sitting in second place. The Yankees are only 5-5 against Baltimore, while the Red Sox are 9-1. The Yankees will need to take care of business against the Orioles in the second half.
It’s hard not to be happy with the Yankees first half. They’ve played well as a team and their young players have stepped in and proved they belong. The Red Sox first-half success is exactly what Major League Baseball wants. It means every Yankee-Red Sox game will be must watch in the second half.