Thoughts at the half-way point

yankees logosThe Yankees have now begun the second half of their season. Actually, the first game in London (the 17-13 slugfest win on Saturday) was game 81, and the Yankees ended the first half with 53 wins which arithmetically projects to a 106-win season. Obviously very good.  That’s the best record in the American League.

I had always believed (and said in an earlier Struming) that 2019 was the real beginning of the next Yankees dynasty. 2017 was a tease, and obviously last year was a good season yet a disappointment and showed the Yankees that there was more work to be done. In fact, there still is.

But looking at the first half there are many reasons for the first half success:

1. DJ LeMahieu is terrific. I respected that he was an excellent fielder and (foolishly) discounted his hitting as Coors Field inflated. The reality is that he is “The Machine”, his new nickname. He batting approach is Jeterian–Inside-out swing, opposite field hits and unconscious with runners in scoring position hitting nearly .500. BTW, he was AL Player of the week last week. He is the Yankees 2019 MVP, and maybe the AL’s as well.

2. Gio Urshala—Gio who? Andujar went down and Gio stepped in. Great glove and hitting .300+. He is also very clutch. Who knew?

3. Gleyber Torres—It’s Gleyber day every day. Played short while Didi was out and now back to second. Great stats. Great in every aspect. And he’s just 22. He may be the AL’s best second baseman for the next 10 years.

4. Luke Voit—I was worried that he was merely a second half phenom. Not so. A terrific hitter. And patient too, willing to take a walk.

5. Gary Sanchez—He is the by far the best hitting catcher in baseball. And his defense, which was a real problem last year, is very good in 2019. He now is the player we thought he was, showing that last year was an anomaly. He is now approaching 100 homers (in less than 3 years). He’s a thumper.

What are the disappointments? There are 2 major ones:

1. Injuries have been overwhelming.

Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Didi, Severino, Betances, Andujar were largely absent in the first half. Andujar is gone for the year. Severino and Betances have not returned as yet, and Stanton played just a few games in his return and is now re-injured. But injuries are a part of the game and other players (see above) have stepped up.

2. Starting pitching

The Yankees bullpen is the best in baseball, but the Yankees starting pitching is average to date. Tanaka, Happ, Paxton, CC have all been inconsistent. German has been the best pitcher. He was terrific through May then slowed (and was injured), and is returning this week. But who expected German to be their best starter? Will the Yankees acquire a top starter. Maybe? Can they win the AL East without one?  Possibly, given their current lead (though there are still lots of games to be played). Can they bring home their 28th Championship without a stud starting pitcher. Iffy.

Expecting a big season, I made a big commitment and bought tickets for 30 games regular season games (of 81 home games). I’ve been unlucky with 3 rain outs to date and I missed others so I’ve “just” made 8 games so far. I plan on improving on that pace in July-September. And hope to see (several?) October games.

The baseball season is a marathon and a strong first half guarantees nothing, but the 2019 Yankees have been giving me and my frequent companion, Carolyn Strum, tons of joy.

Will they be Champions again? I hope. Ask me in October. At least I’m enjoying the ride.

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