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Can the Yankees Crush Their Own All-Time Record and Hit 300 HR in 2019?

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 26, 2019

Aaron Judge will do his part.
Aaron Judge will do his part.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

The New York Yankees mashed a single-season record 267 home runs last season. If they have their way, that record will stand only through the end of this season.

Take it from Aaron Judge, who told reporters (including Bryan Hoch of MLB.com) on March 3: "You get this whole team healthy, we're going to crush the record that we set last year."

Or from fellow outfielder Brett Gardner, who concurred with Judge: "We're going to hit more this year."

Which brings us to the obligatory question of how many bombs these Bronx Bombers might hit in 2019. Maybe 270? How about 280? Or perhaps even 290?

Was that a...wait, was that a "300" from somebody in the back row?

With any other team, entertaining such numbers would be ludicrous. But with these Yankees, that we can even begin to take them seriously says a lot about how much power they're packing.

Giancarlo Stanton (L) and Aaron Judge (R)
Giancarlo Stanton (L) and Aaron Judge (R)Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After clubbing 241 homers in 2017, New York pushed the envelope for 2018 by acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, who was fresh off a 59-homer campaign with the Miami Marlins. With him alongside Judge, who'd launched 52 homers in 2017, the Yankees had a duo that might combine for 100 homers on its own.

In actuality, injuries and assorted ups and downs resulted "only" 65 homers for Judge and Stanton in 2018. The Yankees also got less power than expected out of Gary Sanchez, who fell from 33 homers in 2017 to 18 last season.

So while the final destination wasn't unexpected, the route that the 2018 Yankees took to their home run record certainly was. It was more of a group effort, as a record 12 players hit at least 10 homers.

This route doesn't look as accessible in 2019. At least in the power department, going from Neil Walker (11 homers in 2018) to DJ LeMahieu in the utility infield role is probably a downgrade. The Yankees are also set to begin 2019 with Aaron Hicks (back pain) and Didi Gregorius (Tommy John surgery) on the injured list. Neither is likely to match the 27 homers he hit in 2018.

Still, these issues hardly indicate that the Yankees are fundamentally broken as a homer-oriented offense. The Steamer projection system still expects them to lead MLB in long balls by a good margin:

Granted, an output of 246 homers is short of the 268 that the Yankees need to set a new record, not to mention well short of the pie-in-the-sky mark of 300. 

However, projection systems tend to lean conservative, and it's not hard to look at the Yankees offense and see where more home runs might come from.

Start with Judge and Stanton, who are projected for 35 and 44 homers, respectively. That would be an improvement on what they did in 2018, but they can absolutely realize their 100-homer upside if they get back to what worked for them in 2017.

Color us optimistic about that. The 6'7", 282-pound Judge and the 6'6", 245-pound Stanton might be the two most powerful hitters in Major League Baseball history. For his part, Judge is healthy after shoulder surgery and a broken wrist held him back in 2018. Stanton, meanwhile, won't have to worry about adjusting to a new league and new surroundings in 2019.

"Everything is more comfortable in that aspect, in terms of facing some of these guys and teams again and more often," Stanton said in February, according to James Wagner of the New York Times.

Now on to Sanchez. He's slightly smaller (6'2", 230) than Judge and Stanton but not significantly less powerful. He's hit homers as fast as 115.1 mph and as far as 493 feet. If he's healthy—particularly with regard to his recovery from left shoulder surgery—he can make it to 30 homers this season.

Up next are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. They combined for 51 homers as rookies in 2018, yet both teased potential for even more.

For Torres, there was the 63-game stretch when he cranked 15 homers before a hip strain sucked the life out of his season. Andujar, meanwhile, hit 15 homers in 65 games in the second half. These can be interpreted as signs that both have 30-homer seasons in them.

Last but not least, there's Luke Voit.

Voit is yet another large human (6'3", 225) who broke out with 14 homers in only 39 games after the Yankees snagged him from the St. Louis Cardinals in July. A performance like that naturally raises suspicions, yet Voit didn't luck into it. Per Statcast, his expected slugging percentage during that stretch was second only to eventual National League MVP Christian Yelich.

Let's chalk Voit up for 30 homers of his own. In combination with the 100 they might get out of Judge and Stanton and the 30 apiece from Sanchez, Torres and Andujar, that's 220 homers the Yankees could potentially get out of only their top six sluggers.

From here, let's assume that Hicks' back heals in time for him to at least follow his 27-homer season in '18 with 20 in 2019. Throw in another 20 from a shortstop spot that a healthy Troy Tulowitzki will be holding down until Gregorius is healthy. And maybe a total of 20 from Gardner and LeMahieu.

Add all that up, and the running total for the Yankees' best-case scenario is up to 280 homers from their primary players.

The more they get from their role players—namely Greg Bird (who'll fill in for Hicks to start the season), Austin Romine, Mike Tauchman and possibly Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Clint Frazier—the closer they'll get to the hallowed 300 mark.

At the least, it's not at all unreasonable to expect the Yankees to top the 267 dingers that they hit last season. Even if they don't get contributions from as many players, what they stand to gain from fully functioning versions of their top sluggers should account for that and then some.

If the Yankees don't hit homers in record bunches this year, it'll only be because the injury bug will have taken an even larger bite out of their offense than it already has. But if that happens, it'll be more of a case of the Yankees being felled by bad luck than by a design flaw.

Indeed, there should be no mistake about that. These Yankees are made to slug their way into history.

     

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.


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