By Ryan Herbert
Throughout the 2018 season, the New York Yankees have had an up and down year. Whether it was starting out 9-9, going on a 17-2 stretch, losing their best player in Aaron Judge, or hitting the most homeruns in MLB history it was a wild season of peaks and valleys. However, since Judge has returned to the starting lineup the Yankees are 10-4 including two series wins over the Red Sox and an impressive AL Wild Card Game victory over the A’s. Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have given me confidence that they have what it takes to win it all this year; and here are five reasons why they will.
1. Luke Voit
Luke Voit will go down as the most underrated trade deadline acquisition of 2018. The Yankees gave up next to nothing for the right handed power hitting first baseman. Additionally, this was a position of need for the Yankees as Greg Bird struggled all year hitting just .199 with a .286 OBP. Since the Yankees acquired Voit he has a batting average of .333 with 14 homeruns (10 coming in September) and 33 RBI’s. Voit provided the Yankees with two key insurance runs coming off a triple in Wednesday nights AL Wild Card win. He has been the spark plug the Yankees needed, and I do not know where this team would be without him.
2. The bullpen
This one is not a secret. The Yankees having a deep bullpen has been well documented all year long. However, once you reach the postseason the bullpen becomes that much more important. Extra rest for travel days allows teams to go deep into their bullpen every game without being penalized. As seen verse the A’s the Yankees bullpen can be absolutely filthy when they are called on. The semi-surprise addition of former Orioles’ closer Zach Britton was what really pushed the Yankees bullpen over the edge making it arguably the best in the league. The Yankees deep bullpen puts less pressure on their starters to go deep into games. It is always nice having names like Chad Green, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Zach Britton, and Aroldis Chapman to back you up if you allow a few early runs.
The 2018 campaign was an injury ridden one for the Yankees. Names like Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius, and more all spent long stints on injured reserve this season. However, that is not the case anymore. The Yankees deep and powerful lineup is fully healthy at the right time. In the regular season the Yankees struggled without Judge, posting a record of an unimpressive 25-22. When Judge was healthy the Yankees went 75-40 including 9-6 verse the Red Sox. When the Yankees are at full strength they have one of the most potent lineups in baseball, hence why they hit an MLB record 267 homeruns this season.
4. They play good teams tough
The Yankees won a lot of games in 2018, so it is no surprise they could beat up on teams such as the Orioles or Blue Jays. However, they Yankees had a surprisingly good record against elite teams. Against their fellow AL playoff teams the Yankees faired well, going 22-17; which was the best winning percentage against playoff teams in the MLB. Additionally, against teams over .500 the Yankees went 41-30, also the best winning percentage in baseball. They say to be the best you have to beat the best, and the Yankees have consistently, more than anybody else, beat playoff caliber teams this year.
5. Yankee Stadium
Although the Yankees will not hold home field advantage against some of their AL playoff opponents the Yankees natural home field advantage will more than make up for it. Dating back to last postseason the Yankees are 7-0 in New York. The Yankees also posted the second best home record during the regular season going 53-28. The playoff atmosphere is real in New York as the Yankee faithful are hungry for another championship. If the Yankees can find a way to scratch out a few road wins they will be on their way to a 28th world series title.