Good afternoon everyone, let’s open up the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Psycho Bred asks: Which Yankee position player and pitcher would you consider the team MVP and which would be the anti-MVP for this season?
For team MVPs, it’s pretty easy to give the honor to Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole. Judge has been one of the best bats in baseball, cementing his status as an elite talent with his first healthy season in a few years. Likewise, Cole has been front and center in the Cy Young race throughout the year, and despite some low points has easily been the top pitcher for the Yankees all year. Honorable mention goes to Giancarlo Stanton and Jordan Montgomery for providing longevity and consistent production on a roster that has been starved of that.
The least valuable player on both ends is a trickier call, since there’s been plenty of underperformance. DJ LeMahieu could warrant it for the drop-off in year one of his new contract, but it’s truly been a lost season for Gleyber Torres, so I think I’ll side with the latter. The pitchers have a host of options, mostly from the bullpen, and I’ll name Chad Green there — other pitchers have been worse, but they haven’t seen nearly as many opportunities as Green has blown this year. It’s fair to critique Aroldis Chapman or Zack Britton as well, but Britton’s failures have mostly been due to injury and Chapman has been electric when he’s right.
Mark H. asks: Joey Gallo leads the American League in walks and strikeouts. How is he able to track the ball well enough to know whether it is a ball or a strike, yet can’t see it well enough to make contact?
It’s not so much that he can’t see it well enough to make contact, rather it’s a consequence of his swing mechanics. Gallo has elite command of where the strike zone is, but due to his all-or-nothing approach to the plate balls are simply going to get past him. It’s a trait that’s been common throughout his career — he makes low amounts of contact, but the contact he does make is driven hard and often out of the park.
Byron Fear asks: The question is if they make it to the playoffs then what ... The starting rotation right now is a mess, bullpen is over worked and the infield isn’t great. If they make it, great ... Yet what do you think of what I said, maybe you’re more optimistic than me.
Cole putting up some lackluster starts right before the end of the year is worrisome, but I wouldn’t call the rotation a mess at the moment. I’m willing to bet on Cole’s overall body of work that he figures things out by October, and him headlining a trio alongside Montgomery and Néstor Cortes Jr. should be competitive with everyone else on the American League side of the field. The bullpen is more concerning, but it’s getting a shot in the arm with a healthy Luis Severino arriving.
For all the troubles and grief that this team has created for themselves this year, their goal of a World Series isn’t out of reach — it just follows the same path that they failed to complete last year. They have to outlast the competition to get into the Wild Card, win the coin flip there, and then find a way to get past Tampa Bay. Should they accomplish all of that, there’s no reason to believe that they can’t win a title. They haven’t seen the Rays in a while, but the last time out they managed to break out of their rut against them, and they’ll need to do so again to close out the regular season. If they can do so, then the roller-coaster season goes for one more upswing.