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On the Yankees and pressure in 2020

Stanton tops the list, but what does it mean for an athlete to have pressure to succeed?

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Three Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In terms of sports, pressure is defined as any factor or combination of factors that increases the importance of performing well on a particular occasion. Playing in New York (specifically the Bronx) is said to increase that pressure to an even higher level because of how passionate the fans are and how storied the franchise is. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post recently wrote an article where he chose five Yankees who he thinks will face the most scrutiny during the upcoming season. The five players he settled on are sure to experience some sort of scrutiny, but all will be a different kind of pressure.

The first person on Davidoff’s list was Giancarlo Stanton, a choice many would agree on. He was traded to the Yankees after smashing 59 home runs and was coming off an MVP season. His first year in pinstripes was exceptional, but he did strikeout nearly 30% of the time. That was something that definitely did not sit well with most Yankees fans, especially since he is being paid $25 million per year. Stanton’s 2019 could not have been any worse as he was hit with injury after injury, playing in only 18 games all season. When he finally recovered towards the end of the regular season, he re-injured himself in the playoffs.

It was a nightmare year for Stanton, hence why his 2020 season is so important. He hasn’t had his signature “Yankee moment” yet and hasn’t been a much of a fan-favorite in his two seasons with New York. Stanton faces the pressure to please the fans and prove that he is “deserving” of donning pinstripes. I think he does feel that pressure on him, but I don’t think it will affect his play. His situation does remind me a bit of Alex Rodriguez and him having to win the fans over while Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge were already the face of the team and beloved by every fan.

After Stanton comes Miguel Andujar. The third baseman was the runner-up Rookie of the Year in 2018 after breaking the Yankees rookie-record for most doubles with 47. His 2019 was very similar to Stanton’s. Both were coming off of superb seasons, but injuries caused their following seasons to derail. The pressure on Andujar will be to prove he is healthy from his labrum injury and try to win third base back from Gio Urshela. Andujar has not been the greatest defender, which is another thing that he’ll have the pressure of advancing on. His name has swirled in trade rumors and that will put even more attention on his play, adding to his pressure.

One of the newest Yankees, Gerrit Cole, is third on the list. His pressure will be similar to Stanton’s as well. A high-paid player who is coming off of one of their best seasons with the goal of helping propel the Bombers to the World Series. However, Cole has proved he can pitch under the bright lights and has been under immense pressure. Stanton on the other hand, played eight seasons in Miami and never came close to the postseason. Cole will be tasked with leading a starting rotation that was up-and-down last year. If the Yankees had Cole last year with the numbers that he put up in 2019, the rotation could’ve been considered a strength rather than what was regarded as a weakness. Now that New York has Cole, it’s a World Series or bust season.

Clint Frazier came in at number four on the list. Frazier has had his mishaps in the field and with the media. But, he does have a quick bat and can hit. He will be pressured to prove that he is part of the Yankees for the long-term. It is vital for him to show that he has made strides in improving his defense. It will be tough for him though as the Yankees outfield is already loaded. He may get the short end of the stick. Like Andujar, Frazier’s name has been circled around trade rumors, which may add another layer of pressure.

Finally, the last person on Davidoff’s list is Adam Ottavino. I personally would have put J.A. Happ here, but the case for Ottavino is there as well. Davidoff notes Ottavino’s subpar postseason. While October baseball is nowhere close, fans will remember his poor performance and he’ll be heavily scrutinized again if he doesn’t pitch well in the playoffs.

Which Yankee do you think is facing the most pressure in 2020? Let us know in the comments.