Will the Yankees Be Champions in 2021?

I began writing Strumings in November 2009. The Yankees had won the World Series earlier that month, and my first post on November 30, 2009 was about Mariano Rivera, the all-time great Yankees reliever (and only unanimous Hall of Fame inductee). I was already worried about the end of his career and he would retire in 2013. The first Struming was titled Exit Sandman.

The Champion Yankees were a veteran team back in 2009 yet I believed that those players had another 1-2 championships in them. They would be successful and would be playoff team in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but they also not be World Champions again. The Yankees have obviously changed since 2009 with Brett Gardner the only remaining player. Despite the Yankees overall success last decade—winning records in every year—and missing the playoffs only 3 years of 10 (21013, 2014 and 2106) they have fallen short of being Champions in every year. Very un-Yankee like for the 27-time Champions.

Though I write an optimistic view of the team each year, I did believe they would be champions in 2018 and 2019. I was obviously wrong. Last year I had no idea given the short season and COVID. Thankfully for baseball the best team (the LA Dodgers) won the Championship. The awful “everybody in the pool” playoff scenario last year could have resulted in a Marlins-Astros Series, 2 unworthy playoff teams. It thankfully didn’t

Everything is back to “normal” now in baseball, right? Obviously not, but closer to normal than  last season. There will be (some) fans in the stands which will hopefully increase later in the season. BTW, I have no clue why the Texas Rangers think it’s OK to pack the house on Opening Day but then limit crowds thereafter. Either it’s dangerous, or it’s not. Can we give Texas back to Mexico and then the Astros and Rangers can be international teams?

In any event, the Yankees will be a strong contender this year and I do believe they will be playing in the World Series and will win. There are many IFS attached to that prediction. But they all don’t need to come true. But some do particularly #1

Here’s why I think they will prevail:

1. Injuries will lessen. This is the biggest IF. Were the Yankees “snake bitten” the past 2 years or just a collection of players waiting for a trip to the Injury List waiting to happen? I believe these things even out over time.

2. Gerrit Cole is a stud. Among the best pitchers in baseball, and could be the best.

3. Stanton and Judge, IF healthy, could collectively hit 90-100 homers. They hit 111 in 2017 Stanton (59 for the Marlins) and Judge (52 for the Yankees). Again, big IF.

4. The Yankees have a potentially terrific line-up in all positions, position flexibility in most positions and strong bench in most areas.

5. The bullpen is deep though Britton’s injury is a hurt.

6. Kluber will bounce back to be the ace he was in Cleveland. Many teams think so.

What could go wrong? Several things:

1. Kluber and Taillon prove to be injury prone and don’t pitch the whole year. Asa a result the Yankees starting staff is thin.

2. The Yankees outfield becomes the injury landmine it has been in the past.

3. Gary Sanchez will be a bust and continues to hit .147 as he did last year (ouch), and does not rebound.

4. Without Britton early in the year, the relief staff is thinner and gets roughed up early in the year, and overworked with a price paid later in the season.

I do assume strong performances by DJ, Gleyber, Gio Urshela as reasonable assumptions, but nothing is even a given. The reality is that, as any true fan understands, 162 games is a marathon. There is so much that can happen (good and bad) during that marathon. And then 10 good teams compete for the Championship in October.

I will be attending games this year in New York and Philadelphia. (PS: I think the Phillies will be a playoff team and are underrated in pre-season predictions). Obviously, the Dodgers on paper are a terrific team and could repeat, which would be the first repeat in 20+ years. And San Diego has made several moves to improve an already good team.

Yet I believe the next 3 years will be years of greatness for the Bronx Bombers. They have the talent to win and I think they will. Remind me in November if I am correct.

Play ball.

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