To the astonishment of many baseball whizzes, the New York Yankees are 1st place in the American League East at the All-Star break. They are 3 games ahead of the second place Tampa Bay Rays. The reason why the Bronx Bombers are in first place is a bigger bombshell. Alex Rodriguez, coming back from a season long suspension, has put the team on his back with the help of a few other key veterans like Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner. Babe Ruth had many reasons to smile as his 98 year old daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, was present in the stadium. The Yankees made her feel extra special when they asked her to throw out the first pitch in the last game before the all-star break.
Graphic via cbssports
According to the Bleacher Report by Joel Reuter, the Yankees were 19th in the power rankings on Opening Day. Mid-way through the season, the team has clawed their way to 7th in the power rankings. One of the main strengths of this year’s team is the bullpen. They have done a phenomenal job. The baseball starting pitchers include Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Nova, and Eovaldi. They have been responsible for keeping the team in many games as the season progressed. Then the closers, Betances and Miller, have handcuffed the hitters of opposing teams.
Poor defense can’t hide forever
The bullpen of the New York Yankees hasn’t gotten a lot of support from the rest of the defense. The infield has let the pitchers down numerous times up to this point in the season. The defense is the most glaring weakness of the Bombers this season. The infield has committed 58 errors so far. The right side of the infield has been stellar, but the left side has been horrendous. The bullpen should really be commended for overcoming the mistakes made by the rest of the defense.
Get healthy and stay healthy
In addition to shoring up their defense, there are a number of things the Yankees need to do to be contenders in October. The improvements need to start with Masahiro Tanaka. First and foremost, he needs to remain healthy. If he can do that, his consistency will improve and he can be instrumental in the road to the championship. Another player that needs to bounce back is Chase Headley. He has been a disappointment so far this year. He needs to solidify his defense at third base. Hopefully as his defense improves, his hitting will also progress. Also, Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller have been injured most of the season so far. They are both going to have to be healthy for the Yankees to make a run for the championship.
Tampa Bay won’t go away!
It seems like one of the biggest series of the season is going to come in September when the Tampa Bay Rays come to The Bronx early in the month. MLB has an extremely long season. It has been said that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Will the Yankees have the right combination of veterans and young blood to survive the marathon?
Veterans may carry this team
Everyone knows the aging veterans have been carrying this team so far this season. Everyone also knows chances are, because of their age, they are going to need help from the younger guys and the bullpen to get them to another World Series. Injuries and depth continue to be the biggest concern for the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers have won the World Series 27 times. Time will tell if this team full of surprises can make it to number 28.
Graphic via fansided