The New York Yankees are correcting their biggest weakness

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

In recent years, it’s been well known that the New York Yankees could easily get beaten if they couldn’t hit home runs. Now, that stereotype is fading away.

You could chalk it up to one of two things, multiple strikeout machines like Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton have been injured, or maybe the power hitters like Aaron Judge are correcting their former habits. Either way, the New York Yankees are beating teams in more ways than one, and it’s making them even more massive favorites to win it all.

Looking back on their last two playoff runs, they came up against the past two World Series winners, the Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox. Not exactly the easiest matchups in the world but to be the best, you have to beat the best. In the 2017 American League Championship Series against the Astros when they lost in seven games, their team Batting Average was .205 with a .274 On Base Percentage and .347 Slugging Percentage. Despite the poor numbers, the Yankees had to look forward. People didn’t expect them to be one game away from the World Series and thought they would be the favorite to win it all the following season.

The 2018 ALDS vs. Boston would be their next playoff test, and one could argue that the 2018 Red Sox were better than that 2017 Houston team. Regardless, the Sox made the Yankees look foolish winning the series in four games and ultimately limiting their hitting. The bombers struck out 31 times in those four games and only hit a .214 team average, .295 OBP, and .321 Slugging Percentage.

The media and fans put Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and even some players in the hot seat questioning their abilities to coach and play contact hitting a baseball. Since that seemed to be New York’s biggest weakness, they had to improve in that category if they wanted to make any strides towards a championship. Credit to the organization where it’s due, they made those changes and are in the driver’s seat to make it out of the American League.

In 2019, the Yankees have made massive improvements in the overall hitting category. With a team Batting Average of .272, the Yanks are third-best in the MLB behind two great contact hitting teams, the Red Sox and Astros. They’ve been able to find significant contributions through MVP Candidate DJ LeMahieu, and journeymen Cameron Maybin and Gio Urshela who are all hitting over .300 with limited Home Run totals. Those contributions have even started to rub off on big swing, and miss players like Judge who struggled with injuries this year but have only hit 12 homers in 62 games. He’s still hovering around his career batting average with .272, but his On Base Percentage is an excellent .399, and his strikeout totals are 82 which is a little less than average for him.

Although the Yankees have found ways to produce runs while keeping the ball in the park, they can still hit an absurd amount of Home Runs. With 210 bombs, they only trail the Minnesota Twins for the most in the league. Honestly, they’re getting it done on all facets of the offense. Even though they can still hit homers which helps them keep their ‘Bronx Bombers’ title, they’ve shown they can play a disciplined style of baseball. In terms of overall team strikeouts, they’re 15th in the league averaging 8.74. Not the best numbers but it’s a positive sign that it’s not their only other outcome if they can’t hit Home Runs.

The starting pitching issue will be fixed once Luis Severino hits the mound again, so that’s never been as much of a pressing matter in my mind. With New York’s pitching coaches saying that he’s making significant progress and looking good while doing it is something that fans should look forward to especially with the playoffs looming.

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The bottom line is this, thanks to the team’s new acquisitions and overall improvements from the plate, the Yankees are a force to win it all once again, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the way that the Astros are constructed after their new addition of Zack Greinke, they’ll want to win their second title in three years.

The only thing stopping these two teams from winning a Championship is each other, and the Yankees are in a much better position to win than they were two years ago. Analysts said it was World Series or bust for New York and if they can get past Houston, they’ll be the heavy favorites to capture their 28th title.