There were lofty expectations for the Yankees heading into the 2018 season. After all, they made it to the ALCS in 2017, and they had just acquired Giancarlo Stanton. We knew that the starting rotation would be shaky, and we figured that the bullpen would be great. That much was obvious. Here’s what we didn’t expect:
Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres
The Bombers traded for Brandon Drury and signed Neil Walker specifically because they didn’t want two rookie infielders. Drury’s migraines and blurred vision threw a wrench into that plan early. The Yankees had no real choice but to call Andujar up to play third base. Even while it was happening, we anticipated that Drury would be back any moment to take the starting job back. That didn’t happen. Instead, Andujar stuck at third for the rest of the season. He slashed .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 47 doubles, and certainly played his way into Rookie of the Year consideration.
After a few weeks, Torres joined Andujar in the big leagues. It’s rare that a player lives up to the hype, but the Yankees’ number one prospect really impressed from the start. He hit nine home runs in May! He ended up missing a couple weeks with a hip injury and slowed down in the second half, but still ended the season with 120 wRC+. The two rookies were far better than I could have hoped.
Luis Severino’s horrible second half
The Yankees ace was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the first three months of the season. Severino finished the first half with a 2.31 ERA and 144 strikeouts. In an otherwise mediocre rotation, Sevy was Mr. Dependable. Then the calendar flipped to July and he fell off of a cliff. He started getting hit hard, his ERA doubled, and his strikeouts halved. There was speculation that he was fatigued, but the team refused to rest him. Now it sounds like the Yankees were well aware that he was tipping his pitches in the second half. Hopefully that is an easy fix and he is back to performing like an ace next year.
100 wins despite the injuries
Consider this for a moment: The Yankees won 100 games despite the fact that Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Masahiro Tanaka all spent significant time on the disabled list. That’s not to mention the DL stints by Aroldis Chapman and CC Sabathia, or the fact that Jordan Montgomery underwent Tommy John surgery. In the end, they were only eight games back of the Red Sox. Of course, the other surprise here is that 100 wins wasn’t enough to clinch the division. That’s still a huge accomplishment, but just think of how good they might have been without half of those injuries.
What do you think was the biggest surprise of the season? Let us know in the comments.