The Bronx Bombers are back folks. Last night, in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bombers tied the franchise record for home runs in a season with 242; they reached that feat in their 2004 season.
The Yankees, who are the best team in baseball with a 102-58 record, were picked by many sports analysts to finish third in the division behind the hated Red Sox and the defending American League Champions, the Tampa Bay Rays. My, have the tables turned. The Yankees are now in first and have home field advantage throughout the 2009 playoffs.
The Evil Empire has lived up to their name this year.
After finishing third in the American League East last season and not making the playoffs, the Yankees were left with a bad taste in their mouth. The Bombers are known for spending a whole lot of money to make sure they win and put a winning product on the field.
The main part of the off-season was to focus on bolstering up a bad starting rotation. The Yankees signed the two best pitching Free Agents on the market. They signed C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
Sabathia has been everything the Yankees hoped for.
He finished the 2009 season with 19 wins (Leads Majors), 230 innings pitched (first pitcher since Andy Pettite in 1997, with 240 innings), and also finished with 197 strikeouts. He has a chance to win the A.L. Cy Young Award, but will be tough with Zach Grienke leading the league in E.R.A.
A.J. has had his up-and-downs this year. They signed him to an $82 million contract in December. He is set to finish up the season finale against the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow. As of now he has 12 wins, he has thrown 202 innings (first time in career he has thrown for 200 innings in back-to-back seasons), and he also has 192 strikeouts.
After struggling all throughout August, Burnett has picked it up in his last three starts (1-0, 17 innings, 17 hits, 2.12 E.R.A., 25 strikeouts). His 12-9 record isn’t that great, but he has kept his team in most games he has pitched. The Yankees are 20-12 in the games that Burnett has started.
The Bombers didn’t stop with their pitching, they also felt the need to sure up their offense and defense. The Yanks signed the top offensive Free Agent on the market, Mark Teixeira.
This perhaps was the biggest acquisition of the year, not just because of the M.V.P. type numbers he is putting up, but because they stole him from the hated Red Sox.
The Yankees swooped in the last second, signing the first baseman to an eight-year, $180 million contract. He has lived up to all the hype surrounding and more. So far this season, he has 39 Homeruns (Tied for the American League Lead, Carlos Pena); he has driven in 121 Runs (Leads American League), 102 Runs Scored (Tied for seventh in American League), 79 Walks (11th in American League), and has a respectable .293 Batting Average.
Probably the biggest asset he adds to the team is his remarkable defense. He has a .997 fielding percentage, which ranks sixth in the Majors and ranked second in the American League. He has also helped the fielders around him.
He has helped Derek Jeter, who has arguably had his best defensive season of his career and also has helped Robinson Cano, who has had the best defensive season of his career.
Then there is the clown himself, Nick Swisher, who has been the biggest steal this season.
The Yanks acquired Swisher in a trade with the Chicago White Sox, sending Wilson Betemit and a couple of Minor Leaguers to Chicago. Swisher who was projected to be the backup to Xavier Nady in Right Field, has had a fine season. When Nady got hurt in early April, Swisher became the everyday Right Fielder.
During the first month of the season Swisher was the Yankees power, due to the struggles of Teixeira early and the injury to Arod. During the first month, Swisher was batting .312, with seven Homeruns and 19 RBI’s. This year he has a batting average of .250, 29 Homeruns, 82 R.B.I. and 83 Runs Scored. Perhaps the most impressive statistic that Swisher has is his 95 Base on Balls, which ranks second in the American League.
Finally, there was the emergence of young Phil Hughes.
The Yankees were struggling in the Bullpen during the first month of the season, ranking in the bottom five in almost all the Bullpen pitching categories. Once Phil Hughes was put into the eight inning setup role, the Yankees began to roll. In the Bullpen Phil Hughes has compiled 51 innings, 1.41 E.R.A., 64 Strikeouts, and an impressive 18 Holds.
The Bombers now lead the Majors in Runs (902), Homeruns (242), RBI’s (869), 0BP (.362), Slugging (.478) and OPS (.840).
Also the Bombers Pitching leads the Majors in Wins (102), Saves (51). They lead the American League in Strikeouts (1,246) and Strikeouts per nine innings (7.83).
The road to the World Series goes through the Bronx and the Canyon of Heroes is waiting for a Parade.