Five Reasons Why the Yankees Have Won Their First Five Series

Breaking down how the Yankees have started the 2024 season with the best record in baseball.
Apr 1, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe against the Arizona
Apr 1, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe against the Arizona / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn't get much better than 12-4. After a disappointing 2023 campaign, the Yankees have the best record in baseball to start the 2024 season. While there are still 146 games left to be played, there's no doubt the Yankees have looked much better than last year's team.

Only one team this season has won every series they've played in, and they reside in the Bronx. New York kicked things off with a four-game sweep in Houston and hasn't looked back since. With just about everything going the Yankees' way, here are the five biggest reasons for New York's hot start (in no particular order).

1. Excellent new additions

Not many players have instantly won over a fanbase as quickly as Juan Soto has. It only took one game for Soto to endear himself to an entire city. Despite arm strength being one of his only weaknesses, Soto preserved a 5-4 win over the Astros in his Yankees debut by throwing out the tying run at the plate in the 9th inning.

The 25-year-old superstar has been even better with the bat. Soto ranks top two on the team in the following categories: hits, runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.

While Soto has been an instant sensation in the Bronx, he's not the only offseason addition that has paid immediate dividends. Marcus Stroman has been a big upgrade to the Yankees rotation. The New York native has a 2.12 ERA and started his Yankees career by going 14 straight innings without allowing an earned run.

Alex Verdugo has also given the Yankees some good moments since being acquired from the Red Sox. Verudo hit a go-ahead home run in the 10th inning of an eventual win over the Diamondbacks and made a great sliding catch for the final out in New York's victory over Houston on Opening Day.

2. Young players taking massive leaps

So much pressure was placed on Anthony Volpe's shoulders during his rookie season. After being named Opening Day shortstop at just 21 years old, fans instantly made comparisons between him and franchise legend Derek Jeter. Despite having a 20/20 season and becoming the first rookie in franchise history to win a Gold Glove, his poor performance at the plate seemed like a cause for concern.

Fast forward to this season and Volpe is currently tied for second in the majors with a .382 batting average. Volpe's numbers are up across the board thanks largely to his improved plate discipline. Looking at some of his advanced metrics, Volpe is walking a lot more (14.8% walk rate in 2024 compared to 8.7% in 2023) and striking out a lot less (14.8% strikeout rate in 2024 compared to 27.8% in 2023).

Volpe is also making contact more often when he sees a pitch he likes (whiff rate is at 10.9% in 2024 compared to 28.1% in 2023). On top of his tremendous strides offensively, Volpe has risen to the top 10% of the league in sprint speed and Outs Above Average (OAA), building on the strengths he already possessed as a rookie.

Volpe's ascension has been one of the biggest stories of the season, but another young player has also started to break out. After struggling mightily in 2023, Oswaldo Cabrera has been a big part of New York's success on offense in 2024.

Cabrera dominated the first series against the Astros, going 7-for-16 with two homers and six RBI. The 25-year-old is currently hitting .281 (up from .211 last season) and already has nearly as many homers this season (three) as he did all of last season (five).

3. Former stars re-emerging

Coming off the worst year of his career, there was not much hope surrounding Giancarlo Stanton entering this season. Injuries and poor plate discipline resulted in career-low production in 2023 and he seemed to be regressing every season.

Stanton responded to the doubters by getting in better shape, which has helped him get off to a strong start in 2024. Stanton leads the team with four home runs and is tied for third with nine RBI, mainly because of his execution in big situations. Stanton is hitting .250 with runners in scoring position this season compared to .211 last season. The best example of Big G coming through in the clutch is his go-ahead grand slam against the Blue Jays.

Stanton is also chasing pitches in the dirt a lot less often. He's hitting .308 against breaking balls this season compared to .198 last season. Slimmed-down Stanton looks primed for a bounce-back year in the Bronx.

Another player coming off his worst season, Carlos Rodon is starting to look more like the guy the Yankees gave a $162 million contract to. Rodon missed most of last season due to a forearm strain, but when he did pitch, it was not pretty. He had an abysmal 6.85 ERA and gave up 15 home runs in just 14 starts during his first year in the Bronx.

With a full offseason to recover from his forearm injury, Rodon has looked like a totally different pitcher this season. Rodon has a 1.72 ERA through three starts, and the Yankees have won every game he's pitched in.

The lefty has started using a cutter for the first time in his 10-year career, and it has been literally unhittable. Rodon has thrown the pitch 42 times this season without giving up a hit. Rodon has always relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, but introducing a nasty cutter should help him perform much better in his second year with the Yankees.

4. Elite pitching

Despite losing reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole during spring training, the rotation has been a huge part of the team's success. New York's pitching has been outstanding, ranking second in the majors in ERA (2.78) and opposing batting average (.217).

Carlos Rodon and Marcus Stroman have stepped up the most in Cole's absence, while Clarke Schmidt and Luis Gil have been solid in the backend of the rotation. The starters have been excellent, and so have the relievers.

New York's bullpen ranks fourth in the majors with a 2.49 ERA and first in saves with nine. Even with Jonathan Loaisiga out for the season, the Yankees have received excellent production from their relievers. Newcomers Nick Burdi and Victor Gonzalez have given up one earned run combined, while Ian Hamilton has been an innings eater out of the pen.

Last but certainly not least, Clay Holmes has been arguably the best closer in baseball. Holmes leads the majors with six saves and has yet to give up an earned run. He's the icing on the cake for New York's deep arsenal of talented arms.

5. Getting on base

Landing Juan Soto surely helps in this department, but the Yankees as a whole have been much better at getting guys on base this year. New York leads the majors in walks and has the fifth fewest amount of strikeouts. Aaron Judge is tied for the lead league in walks with 16, and Soto is right behind him with 15.

It might not be the most flashy part of the game, but the increase in walks leads to more traffic on the bases and more chances to score points. Couple that with less strikeouts and it can be seen why the Yankees offense has looked vastly different this season.

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