The idea of looking ahead can sometimes be a fun exercise. While at other points it is a tortuous activity. So as we begin looking towards the season, we preview 19 Storylines heading into the New York Yankees 2019 season. (In no particular order.)
#1: How Many Homeruns will Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton Combine to Hit?
We asked this question last season. And it will be a question asked just about every year. But seeing two of the biggest sluggers in the game on the same team will always inspire retrospective. Especially when thinking back on the rich history of the New York Yankees. A healthy Judge and Stanton combination can make their way north of triple digits. Thinking back to 2017, the two men hit over 50 home runs apiece (all be it on separate teams.) But it was done and this season could see both men surpass that 50 home run plateau once again. But this time together on the same team, on the same field, rocking the Yankee Stadium faithful.
#2: How Well Will Danny Farquhar Pitch this Season?
The feel-good story of the year will be the story told of Danny Farquhar. Danny missed nearly all of last season with a brain aneurysm. And it was never certain that Danny would ever be able to pitch again. Let alone be on the mound for the most recognizable team in the world. Following how Danny Farquhar does this season will be one of the best storylines across Major League Baseball, not just the Bronx
#3: What Will CC’s Impact Be on the Team in his Final Season?
CC Sabathia will be entering his final season. And across his Hall of Fame, worth career CC has had many incredible moments. And has left a resounding impact on teammates and opponents alike. But in this his final season, what will be the lasting legacy left in Pinstripes?
#4: Who will be the Breakout Star of 2019?
Every season across MLB players have all ranges of seasons. Some will have seasons that ride the highest of highs. While others suffer the lowest of lows. And other the last couple of seasons we have seen different Yankees have truly breakout campaigns. In 2015, it was Greg Bird. During the second half of 2016, Gary Sanchez. Aaron Judge demolished all expectations in 2017. And in 2018, Miguel Andújar doubled his way to the history books and Yankee fans hearts. Who will stand out during the 2019 season? Only time will tell, Gleyber could rebound from a tough second half. Or maybe Clint Frazier grabs hold of the Left Field job after dealing with concussions just about all of 2018. Could someone from the bullpen stand out? We will have to see how the season unfolds.
#5: Will the Signing of Troy Tulowitzki be Seen as a Steal or a Bust?
Throughout much of the offseason, much to do was made over the signing of Troy Tulowitzki. And many Yankee fans questioned the intelligence behind the move. And also subsequently the non-pursuit of Manny Machado. But since the start of Spring Training, those same fans have changed their tunes about Tulo. We covered Tulo in a piece already about the true benefit it was to the signing. But this question will be asked every time Troy goes 0-4 or commits and unlikely error in the field. But if healthy there is no doubt Troy can get back to being an above-average Major League player. And if that is the case, this move would have been the most underrated steal in history.
#6: Will Miguel Andújar’s Defense Improve or Continue to be a Stumbling Block?
Many concerns were raised about Andújar’s defense in 2018. And while his defense improved as the season went on it is still seen as a huge question mark. All offseason long the conversation around Miguel was stating he is a terrible defender and seemingly incapable of improving. And I have stated on many occasion about the fact that Derek Jeter committed 22 errors in his first season as the Yankees Shortstop. Miguel committed 15 last season but was essentially a year ahead of schedule. The work ethic of the young man shows a dedication and love of his craft. And working with to improve can make Andújar a more than capable defender at third.
#7: What Version of Gary Sanchez Will We See? 2016-17 or 2018?
We have seen the best and the worst of Gary Sanchez over the last two seasons. The 2019 season will be a make or break season for Gary Sanchez. And thus far during Spring Training, he has looked impressive. Not just from a physique standpoint but also from an on-field approach to both sides of the ball. Can Gary maintain such an approach all season long, becomes the true question.
#8: What Happens When Didi Gregorius Comes Back?
One major question currently being asked is a few months away from having to be answered. But what is going to happen with the plethora of infielders when Didi Gregorius returns? As the Opening Day roster is constructed the Yanks have two first basemen, two second basemen, a shortstop and a third baseman. That’s six players for only four infield positions. Adding Didi adds a seventh player to that mix. As the old baseball cliche line goes ”these things tend to work themselves out.” But it will remain a question until we see how things play out.
#9: What’s Going on with Jacoby Ellsbury? And What Can be Done with Him?
A glaring red flag on the otherwise highly impressive resume of Yankees GM, Brian Cashman is the seven years & $153 million that was given to Jacoby Ellsbury. So now five years into the failed experiment we have to ask what can be done to salvage something of this situation? Jacoby hasn’t been able to stay in the field. And a player that isn’t on the field can not help the team. Looking at the team that is set to open the season there is not even a place to throw away at-bats on Ellsbury. Over the offseason, there was a ”bad contract for bad contract” swap idea speculated about with the San Francisco Giants. The trade postulated was Johnny Cueto for Jacoby Ellsbury. We covered the idea in our piece, Ellsbury for SF Giants, Cueto. Sadly, there aren’t many options for the Yankees to make right now. But as the season plays out other alternatives may present themselves.
#10: Is Luke Voit the Real deal?
Have you heard of Kevin Maas? What about Shane Spencer? Well, these are names that concern many Yankees fans when it comes to the late season breakout performance of Luke Voit. We have seen guys come from absolute obscurity to the most dominant force in the Yankees lineup. Only to falter when the league catches up to them. A trend that Luke Voit is looking to say doesn’t apply to him. This will be a real concern until Voit proves that what we saw from him was the real deal.
#11: Is This the Best Bullpen in History
Over the last several years the New York Yankees front office has prioritized the bullpen. And in doing so designated that as a strength for the team. Power arms laced with devastating breaking balls to boot. In this day and age of bullpenning, the Yankees are best suited for such a strategy with their five closers and six-to-seven more high-quality setup men. The Yankees have made power their staple in the lineup and from the pen. But to be truly historic
#12: Who’s Next for Extensions?
This offseason has been accentuated by extensions all across Major League Baseball. The Yankees got in on the mix with extensions for Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. We covered the extension conversation as well with our piece, New Route to the Bank is by Extensions. And we have seen some of MLB’s top players get signed to long-term deals. So with several impact players either nearing free agency or an extremely high price tag the Yankees may have talks in the pipeline for their best. But who those players are, remain the question.
#13: What Kind of Impact will Aaron Boone have in his Second Season as Manager
Last season we witnessed Aaron Boone come down from the broadcast booth for ESPN to manager of the New York Yankees. And while not everything went perfectly for the first-year manager. Overall, the sentiment was it was a positive season. And there was no more evidence to that than the 100 win campaign the Yankees would put up in 2018. But now Boone will have real experience under his belt to rely upon when making decisions. And it could be assumed that Boone would better understand how the decisions
#14: Can Luis Severino Regain Cy Young Caliber Form and avoid Tipping his Pitches?
In 2017, Luis Severino finished third in the American League Cy Young voting. And during the first half of 2018, Sevvy was even more dominant if that was ever possible. But whether through fatigue, injury, or a falter in mechanics the second half of 2018 was abysmal for Severino. If the Yankees are to have the ultimate success this season they will have to rely on a return to Cy Young caliber form from Severino. Luis will begin the season on the IL dealing with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. But if there are no setbacks, Severino could be strong the rest of the way. But it will still be an ongoing story any time he gives up some hard hits during games.
#15: Will the be the Swan Song Season for Brett Gardner?
Brett Gardner has been a long time favorite among many Yankees fans over the years. His ability to work long and pesky at-bats to open the game has become a staple of his play. The other aspects of his game that has ingratiated himself to the Bronx faithful. But the question had to be asked with his consistent second-half woes and the aging curve shortening as you read this, what is left for Gardy? ”Gritty, Gutty” Brett Gardner will likely have to transition to a bench role in the second half before his eventual departure from Pinstripes. But once his Bronx career is over will that spell the end for Gardner’s career? Or will he don another uniform for the first time since the Yankees drafted him?
#16: Is Clint Frazier’s Time in Pinstripes Counting Down?
Clint Frazier was once considered a top prospect in all of MLB. Through injuries and inconsistency, he has been unable to grab hold of a permanent position in the Major Leagues. But this Spring Training season, Frazier came in healthy and seemingly completely over the concussion issues that wiped out essentially all of his 2018 season. But Clint has already been optioned to Triple-A “In order to get consistent at-bats.” And also to make sure those concussions symptoms (a non-factor at this point) don’t pop back up again. If Clint Frazier wants to remain a New York Yankee, he is going to have to light up Triple-A like never before and force his way to the Bronx.
#17: Can the Yankees Break the All-Time Wins Record?
The New York Yankees are going to be a juggernaut this season, of that Yankee fans, have no doubt. But what is the easiest way to prove that to the general public and the haters six hours to the north? Blowing past their team historic win total and taking the All-Time record of 116 games and putting it in the rear view mirror. The Yankees will have an offense that can score runs. And a bullpen that won’t allow runs. Plus a starting rotation that will be sneaky great on top of that. So there is the possibility that the Yankees could win the most regular season games in history and their 28th World Series.
#18: Will Aaron Judge Win the AL MVP?
Since his historic rookie campaign of 2017, Aaron Judge has been the Yankees team MVP in both seasons. However, during both 2017 and 2018 Judge would miss six weeks each season. (In 2017, inconsistent seemingly lost at the plate, potential shoulder injury. In 2018, hit by pitch broken wrist.) Also long as Aaron Judge can stay healthy and consistent, then Judge will be in the MVP discussion.
#19: Can the Yankees Win the World Series?
On paper, plain and simple, Yes. But the game isn’t played on paper. And in order to win the World Series, it takes a lot of things during the season going right. The Yankees are viewed as a favorite heading into the season. But they were also a favorite last season but fell short to a historic season from their rivals. Can the Yankees find the magic this season and be the last team standing?