It’s pretty amazing how things can change in a year’s time, and that can be especially true within the sports world. We have seen one year make or break athletes and set a standard for the foreseeable future of their lives. In just one year, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge launched himself into being viewed as one of the most popular athletes in baseball, if not all of sports. That fast-paced improvement seemed to have rubbed off on the Yankees’ roster as a whole.
Anyone who follows baseball closely enough must have had a suspicion that the Yankees would eventually propel themselves back into serious World Series contention at some point, but most didn’t expect for it to occur before 2019. The Yankees previously contained a 25-man roster full of question marks and potential. It was going to take a lot of things to go right for the Yankees to be taken seriously for even a playoff appearance in 2017, and that’s exactly what happened.
New York was able to defeat the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS after being down 2-0 in the series, and came just one win away from reaching the World Series, before falling to the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
Ahead of the 2018 season, the Yankees appear to have arguably the deepest lineup in baseball after adding superstar Giancarlo Stanton. In reality, they are about an ace or two away from being the best team in baseball on paper. So, one would assume that the prediction for the 2018 is pretty simple: World Series or bust.
As an aspiring journalist, I’m going to look outside the box of my own mind and realize all of the potential possibilities.
10. Bad Scenario: Injury Bug
This is always going to be a potential bad scenario for any team in any sport, but it’s important to note. In 2017, Gary Sanchez saw some nagging injuries, Greg Bird has been attacked by a swarm of injury bugs, and Stanton has had his own history of injuries as well.
Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has been a consistent scare since he’s been in the league, and we have witnessed pitchers being taken down with needs for Tommy John surgery before. The Yankees have lost two main roster pitchers due to a torn UCL in both Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi.
As a Yankees fan, it’s a nightmare scenario to be unable to witness any player go down with any major injury, robbing us of seeing how this juggernaut of a team plays out as a unit.
9. Good Scenario: Veteran/Rookies Continues Benefit
Over the past two seasons, one thing that was beneficial to the Yankees was having a mix of veterans and rookies. At one point in time, Didi Gregorious credited Carlos Beltran as being one the reasons he has improved upon becoming one of the best shortstops in the league. In another scenario, Judge even admitted to turning to veterans such as Matt Holliday and Brett Gardner during certain situations.
The Yankees still have experienced veterans in C.C. Sabathia and Gardner to help lead the way during both struggles and success, even if their production doesn’t match the same magnitude as the younger stars.
8. Bad Scenario: Potential One-Hit Wonders, Prospects Bust
Before I receive a ton of heat for this, let me clarify: You don’t hit 52 homeruns by accident if you’re Aaron Judge. I don’t believe there were any flukes on the 2017 Yankees, but there is potential for all of the young stars to become figured out and see more of a white line from here on out.
Luis Severino seemed to lay a foundation to solidify himself as the ace of the Yankees’ starting rotation, but the belt isn’t completely his after one dominant season. You know that you have a star on your hands if the studs on your team remain a consistent golden chip year in and year out, and we aren’t able to say for the majority of the Yankees’ young roster.
As of right now, the Yankees seem to have put their faith into their prospects when it comes to 50% of the infield, after trading away both Chase Headley and Starlin Castro. The franchise will instead look to prospects such as Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar to take the leading role.
In my opinion, that’s the smartest route, but it does run a risk. If Greg Bird sees the same trend he’s experienced in terms of injuries and struggles, a bust or two with the Yankees’ prospects could really handicap the potential for the team.
7. Good Scenario: More Breakout Prospects?
We can pretty much credit the success of the Yankees to their breakout talents and prospects. However, busts are consistently an aspect that fans must be cautious of.
A potential nightmare scenario for the rest of the league is to see another breakout All-Star in someone like Torres, who would just add onto the already-stacked Yankees future. This could propel the Yankees into dangerous heights.
6. Bad Scenario: Adjustment Period?
This is a borderline bad scenario, as this is something that the Yankees could easily overcome over the course of a few months. With that said, fans shouldn’t be disappointed or surprised to see a bit of a slow start in 2018.
The makeup of the roster is almost brand new, and they are being led by a new rookie skipper in Aaron Boone, who was under the reigns of Joe Girardi for the past nine years. It may take some time for Stanton to adjust to the New York spotlight, and Boone may need to run several different lineups before hitting the right card.
This could plague the Yankees for just a few weeks, but could also wind up handicapping the Yankees 2018 season.
5. Good Scenario: All potential is reached, Trends Continue
This is most likely the second-best dream scenario for all Yankees fans. What if everything repeats as it did last season for the team? By that, I mean whether or not Sabathia continues to pitch like the ace we’ve come to love, or if Tanaka’s second-half resurgence continues into 2018.
The possibilities are absolutely endless, and it’s hard to picture the Yankees winning less than 100 games if at least 85% of their potential and good fortune goes their way. However, it’s important to note that this is indeed a dream. It’s rare for everything to go according to plan in the unpredictable game of baseball.
4. Bad Scenario: Pitching Rotation
As I noted near the beginning of this article, going into the 2017 regular season, the entire 25-man roster has had many question marks, and potential success was only found in hope and unforeseen potential.
Going into the 2018, the Yankees starting rotation gives off much of the same impression. The team saw Gary Sanchez propel himself into a threat towards the end of the 2016 season. In 2017, Luis Severino propelled himself into a threat as well. Meanwhile, Greg Bird gave that same impression back in 2015, but still went down with a season-ending injury the following year.
In fact, 2017 was supposed to be the year we saw both Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez in the same lineup, only for Aaron Judge to push his prosperity in front of Bird.
Could the same scenario play out for the team in 2018? Though we caught a glimpse, we weren’t able to see the Yankees’ rotation with a consistent Severino and Tanaka over the course of the full season. We should hope for that in 2018, but could they be joined by an unsuspected star in someone such as Chance Adams or Jordan Montgomery? We’ll find out, but for now, it’s a pure dream scenario.
3. Good Scenario: World Series (Duh)
It’s been a few years since the Yankees have actually been the favorites to win a World Series prior to the season. However, it seems as though the landscape has officially changed. The American League is so strong right now that we could debate for ages between the Indians, Astros and Yankees. With that being said, if all goes well, the Yankees have a legitimate shot at winning their 28th chip in 2018.
The pieces are already there, and the potential for substantial growth is present as well. Of course in baseball, you take hype with a grain of salt. The season is so long and anything could happen, as proven last season.
2. Bad Scenario: History Repeats Itself
Over the past few off-seasons, there have been teams that stacked up through free agency and trade who seemed primed for dominance in the league. Seeing an already-dominant team like the Red Sox add Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the same season, one would have to think the franchise is set for the next several seasons.
However, Boston went on to trade both Crawford and Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and would only have one ring to show for their efforts. The Dodgers, Marlins, Angels and others have had similar play outs after their signings. Yankee fans would be incredibly displeased with that type of result, especially considering the chips that were used to assemble this particular squad.
1. Great Scenario: A Dynasty Begins in 2018
About a year ago, I wrote an article predicting that the Yankees would eventually dominate the league with a newly-formed dynasty before the 2020 season. The Yankees hold too strong of a farm and too many resources to not be able to assemble a squad that wouldn’t ensure a roster that is at least 85% full of talented players.
The Yankees seem to have a shot at fast-forwarding their success as soon as next season. If everything truly comes to surface, and the Yankees experience breakout stars and continued dominance with the addition of Stanton and company, it’s possible we see a Yankees dynasty break out.
The only thing better than winning the World Series is seeing the formation of a team that could run the AL East for the next several years to come.
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