The New York Yankees have their eyes set on the 2024 season. The first full-team workout is set for Feb. 20 as the Bronx Bombers are hoping to start things off well, even with it just being the beginning of spring training.
New York is coming off a down year in 2023, where they went 82-80, finished fourth in the AL East, and failed to reach the postseason.
There are a few players who need to step up heading into the 2024 season.
1. Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton is a powerful slugger in the lineup for the Yankees. The five-time All-Star came over to New York in 2017 when he was dealt from the Miami Marlins. Stanton was brought to town to help the Yankees bring home another title.
That plan hasn't happened yet and the pressure is only continuing to mount. Stanton is the Yankees DH due to his lackluster defense in the outfield. The 34-year-old owns the pop in his swing to hammer moon rocks but he's way too inconsistent at the plate.
Stanton has a knack for going for power swings and piles-up strikeouts at a higher rate. He's amassed 124-plus strikeouts in three straight seasons.
In 101 games during the 2023 season, Stanton had a career-low batting average of .191 with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs. He also had a WAR of -0.8, which was his second straight year with a WAR below 1.
In addition, Stanton missed 61 games because of a Grade 2 hamstring strain. The Yankees need Stanton to play like an All-Star and rather quickly.
2. Nestor Cortes
Cortes had a 2023 season that he wishes he could forget. The 29-year-old was hit by the injury bug. Cortes had a left rotator cuff strain that hindered him to just 12 starts last year. The 2022 All-Star has a funky windup that constantly keeps batters on edge.
Despite that, Cortes struggled tremendously on the mound. Last year, he posted a 4.97 ERA and seemed to be bothered by the new pitch clock. Cortes has shown the ability to dominate on the hill, logging 100-plus K's and an ERA of 2.90 or less from 2021-2022.
He must return to form this season to show it wasn't a fluke.
3. Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo had a weird 2023 season. He started off hot before sizzling out towards the back half of the year. The three-time All-Star collided with San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28. Rizzo never seemed right after that play and was finally placed on the injured list on Aug. 3. It was diagnosed that he suffered a concussion.
He is now heading into his last guaranteed year in New York with a price tag of $17 million. It's safe to say Rizzo will need to produce for Brian Cashman to bring him back in 2025.
Last year, Rizzo managed to play in 99 games, notching a batting average of .244 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. This will be his fourth season in New York since joining the Bronx Bombers in 2021.
Rizzo has shown the capability to be a valuable asset throughout his career but New York will need him to bring that play onto the diamond in 2024.
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