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Bullpen Day Thrives, Yanks top Rays 4-1

Entering the last week of the regular season the Yankees opened a four-game set Monday night in the always dreaded trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees came into tonight sitting one and a half games (two in the loss column) above the Oakland A’s for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game. Aaron Boone decided to go with a “bullpen day” tonight instead of giving the ball to a typical starter.

Predicting the 2018 New York Yankees Accolade Winners

With pitchers and catchers reporting not too long ago, it won't be long before we have live baseball games to watch as spring training games are set to commence. To keep in the spirit of our recent 2018 season prediction articles here at BBB, I thought it would be a fun exercise to predict who will take home the Yankee accolades at the end of the year. Below you will find my predictions for who will be the Yankees' MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year.

Via Bostonherald.com



MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
It’s hard to seem bold in predicting who the MVP of the 2018 Yankees will be, but blockbuster acquisition Giancarlo Stanton is the perfect pick. Let me remind you that Stanton hit .281/.376/.631 alongside a ridiculous 59 homers and 132 RBI on an ultimately lackluster Marlins team, in the hitting graveyard that is Marlins Park.

Now, insert that kind of production into Yankee Stadium, alongside fellow league MVP candidates in Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez – that could be some scary good production. To predict Stanton hitting 60 home runs really isn’t that much of a stretch. Moving to an American League team, Stanton will have the benefit of getting days at DH to keep him fresh and hopefully help him avoid the injury problems that have been the only blemish on his otherwise fantastic career thus far.

Via Newsday.com

Stanton’s biggest competition in the Yankee MVP race are the two mentioned in the above paragraph: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

Aaron Judge turned in what should have been an MVP performance this season and is likely the stiffest competition Stanton would face in being the most valuable Yankee this year. It’s important to note that sophomore slumps in the big leagues are real though. I personally don’t think Judge will fall off a cliff by any means, but the league now knows what to expect when pitching to him and he will be forced to make adjustments this year. Judge is certainly capable of adjusting back as shown by his breaking out of a deep second half slump last year, but an established big league MVP winner like Stanton certainly has the edge over the AL rookie of the year in Judge.

Gary Sanchez probably isn’t too far away from being the best catcher in all of baseball with his canon arm and power that could one day see 40 home runs, but the fact that he plays catcher hurts him when running against Stanton for the Yankees MVP. Major league catchers are routinely given more days off to rest due to the grueling nature of the position. Sanchez in all likelihood simply won’t play enough games to match the sheer volume of elite numbers Stanton will put up.

ZiPS currently projects Stanton to knock 55 homers alongside 137 RBI, which is a pretty impressive projection. However, don’t be surprised if the reigning NL MVP tops the 60 homer mark in a hitter’s paradise, in a lineup that could be a modern day Murderer’s Row.

 Runners up: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez


Cy Young: Sonny Gray
If projecting Stanton to be the Yankee MVP seemed like too easy of a pick, then hopefully projecting Sonny Gray to be the best Yankee starter should make up for it in shock factor. At times it seems as if many Yankee fans have forgotten that Sonny Gray is on the team.

Gray was acquired at the trade deadline this past season for Jorge Mateo and the injured Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian. Gray’s stint in pinstripes was largely unspectacular as he posted a 3.72 ERA, allowing 11 long balls in as many starts. The bank on Gray to be the best Yankee pitcher this year is rooted more in his overall career performance than his second half last year.

When healthy, Gray has been a fantastic and from 2013-2015 he never posted an ERA higher than 3.08. 2016 however, was a lost cause for the former A’s starter, as the injury bug bit him and he was only able to make 22 starts to the tune of a rather ugly 5.69 ERA. The start of 2017 wasn’t much better, as Gray started the season on the disabled list. That being said, the 3.55 ERA (3.90 FIP) he posted for all of 2017 is a rather impressive rebound from a past year spent riddled in injuries.

If you take away the injury plagued 2016, Gray has posted a 3.04 ERA for his career, which is nothing short of stellar. Now a full year removed from any injuries, Gray should be poised for a year more in line with this ERA with a young, athletic Yankee defense behind him.

Via Newsday.com

Fellow Yankee starter Luis Severino is likely the sexier pick for this award, however, much like Aaron Judge, Severino will also face an adjustment period after his first full season as a starter. Severino turned in a top 3 Cy Young finish for the Yankees in 2017 and he shouldn't drop terribly far off from that, but opposing MLB teams will know better know what to expect when facing Severino, who will have to then adjust back. Also the 193.1 big league innings thrown by Severino far surpass any other inning count Severino has posted in the bigs and fatigue appeared to set in in the playoffs for Sevy as he wasn't his usual, sharp self outside of one solid start against Cleveland in the ALDS. It's fair to wonder if he may battle through the effects of a high innings count in his first full season as a starter in 2018. 

Masahiro Tanaka may be on some radars as a bounce back candidate and he should in fact due that, but in fairness, improving on a 4.74 ERA shouldn't be that difficult. It's become clear that Tanaka's home run problems aren't going away with 97 long balls surrendered in 105 career starts. His 4.34 FIP in 2017 suggests the season may not have been as disastrous as the 4.74 ERA indicates, but Gray and Severino are still better picks to be the top Yankees pitcher this year.

Runners up: Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka


Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar 
Now admittedly, this pick is entirely dependent on the Yankees keeping the roster as is and avoiding the addition of another infielder before the season starts, particularly a third baseman. As the roster currently sits, it appears that the third base job this year is Miguel Andujar's to lose.

Anjuar is MLB.com's 65th overall prospect due to his 55 hit and 55 power ratings which project him to be an above average hitter both for average and power. The scouting report explains that while Andujar is aggressive at the plate, that doesn't mean he strikes out, as he has the ability to repeatedly barrel the ball to all fields. This report is reinforced by the fantastic year Andujar posted in the minors last year as he hit .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs and 82 RBI between AA-AAA. Even more impressively he K'd just 71 times in 480 ABs.

Via Newsday.com

Additionally, his perceived defensive difficulties are likely overblown as his highest rated tool is his arm which scores a 70 to go alongside a 50 fielding rating. As he gets more and more experience his fielding ability should become league average and possibly even above average if his cannon of an arm reaches its full potential.

Simply put, the Yankees are looking at a pretty good rookie to handle third base this year. Andujar has a shot to break camp with the Yankees and doesn't face the potential of service time manipulation like his stiffest competition for this award, Gleyber Torres, does.

Torres is a man who needs no introduction as he currently ranks as MLB.com's 5th overall prospect and is one of the most advanced hitters of the group for his age (21). However, Torres faces the prospect of spending some time at AAA to start the season to manipulate his service time for an extra year of control. Not only this, but Torres will likely need some time in the minors to get back in the swing of things after his season was cut short by Tommy John surgery on his non throwing arm last year.

This shouldn't be a terrible hindrance, but it may have a lingering effect for a while and Andujar should be ready to give his best performance from the start of the season and forward. Either way, the Yankees should have two electric rookies not only vying to be the best rookie on the Yankees, but the best rookie in the American League.

Runner up: Gleyber Torres

By: Nick Scott

Statistics and info provided via Baseball-reference.com, Fangraphs.com, and MLB.com

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