New York Yankees: 5 Reasons the Bronx Boys Will Walk Away with AL East Crown
The New York Yankees are gearing up for yet another run at the World Series this upcoming season. After beginning the offseason at a slow pace, General Manager Brian Cashman has assembled another championship caliber team.
This team has the potential to not only capture the AL East title and send them to the playoffs again, but the ability to do so with authority, and here are five reasons why.
No. 5: Strength of the Offense
Last season, the New York Yankees had one of the best offenses in the Major Leagues.
They ranked second in runs with 867, first in home runs with 222, second in RBIs with 836, first in walks with 627, fourth in steals with 147, and seventh in batting average with a .263.
Some more numbers for you. Last season, the Yankees were only shut out in eight games. They scored one run in nine games, two runs in 11 games, three runs in 21 games, four runs in 28 games, and five or more runs in 85 games.
They scored 10 runs or more in 17 games. That is only one less than being shut out or scoring only one run combined. In one season.
Needless to say, the Yankees have one of the most potent offenses in the game today. Last season the team was led by Center Fielder Curtis Granderson, who hit 41 home runs and drove in 119 runs.
Look for the Yanks to coast to an AL East title behind the strength of their offense yet again this season.
No. 4: Depth of the Starting Rotation
Going into and throughout most of the offseason, the pitching staff was considered a weak point for the Yankees in 2012. However, after Cashman traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos, and signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one year $10 million deal, the Yankees pitching became a strength.
Going into Spring Training, the Yankees will have three players in AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia all vying for the coveted fifth starter spot. The "losers" of the battle are expected to go into the bullpen, or possibly traded.
The Yankees also have a couple of young men down in AAA named Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos waiting at the wings. Nicknamed the "Killer B's" the two young prospects rank 41 and 13 respectively on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
With that much pitching depth, the Yankees should be covered if any significant injury occurs to a starter.
No. 3: Red Sox Turmoil
The Yankees' greatest annual threat to the AL East title is the Boston Red Sox.
Their biggest acquisition this offseason was... Bobby Valentine?
While the Red Sox were the favorites last season, they disappointed, especially in September. Manager Terry Francona felt the wrath of missing the playoffs and was fired. General Manager Theo Epstein then left the club for the Chicago Cubs. Many cited issues within the clubhouse for the poor play on the field.
Enters new manager Bobby V. He has been out of the MLB for a few years now, so it is unknown how he will do in his first season.
Too many questions surround the Red Sox to consider them a shoe-in for the AL East. Can they theoretically beat the Yanks for the title? Yes, they can. If they improve the culture within the clubhouse and all play to their potential, they will be a good team.
They have a long way to go, though.
No. 2: Strength of the Yankees Bullpen
One of the surprises of the 2011 season was the effectiveness of the Yankees bullpen. Almost every person was expecting the Yanks to have a decent bullpen, but rely on their rotation and lineup to hold the team up.
The success of the bullpen was widely based off the emergence of David Robertson.
Robertson appeared in 70 games, pitching 66.2 innings of 1.08 ERA relief. He filled in nicely at the set up position after Rafael Soriano went on the DL and Joba Chamberlain was lost to the DL for the season with Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees also had great performances from Cory Wade and Luis Ayala, who had a 2.04 and 2.09 ERA respectively.
Then there is the everlasting Mariano Rivera, who still defies Father Time and is dominant late in his career as the Yankees closer.
With Joba returning and much of the bullpen remaining the same, look for the Yankees to have a solid bullpen yet again.
No. 1: Lack of Improvement Within the AL East
There has not been a big improvement throughout the AL East this offseason. We have already covered the lack of additions for the Red Sox, however the Rays have not done a whole lot of changes that will help defeat the Yankees.
The Rays' biggest acquisition this offseason was Carlos Pena. While he will add some power to the lineup, his last go around did not end very well with Tampa, as he batted just above the infamous Mendoza Line (which is .200).
The Orioles are a far way away from competing for the AL East title, and did not make any real significant changes to their staff.
Because of the lack of significant change in the AL East, look for the Yankees to once again take the AL East title.