This team is so freakin’ good.
I spent a long time trying to figure out how to start this article in a professional, writerly way, but the only thing I could come up with is, “This team is so freaking good.” And that’s because, at least in my eyes, it’s kind of unexpected.
If you think back to the pre-lockout free agent frenzy and the post-lockout offseason lull, back when I wasn’t commuting to work and had more time to frequent these boards, I was pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with the Yankees approach to the offseason. Right before the beginning of the season, we published our 2022 season predictions. If you recall, I thought that the Yankees would finish third in the division, unofficially thinking they’d hover around 92-or-so wins by season’s end. Not bad, but not spectacular, either.
After a so-so first week, I wrote about how the Yankees, dating back to the shortened 2020 season, had lost the spark that made them so much fun to watch in previous years. I also talked about how Gleyber Torres’ slow start at the plate made him a liability, given how well DJ LeMahieu started, and how it was time to start thinking about his future role with the team. I never put this stuff into writing, but I was also concerned that the pitching rotation was made up of one ace, three back-of-the-rotation arms, and one massive question mark in Luis Severino, and I thought that the bullpen was going to be ineffective after being overused last season. I was concerned about the lack of offensive potential behind the plate, felt like Josh Donaldson’s days as a middle-of-the-order hitter were behind him, and genuinely could not believe that the richest team in the league was perfectly content with Isiah Kiner-Falefa as their Opening Day shortstop. In short, I thought this team was going to be a mess.
And then the strangest thing happened: things started to turn around. *cue Kate Bush’s “Running Up the Hill”*
As of writing this (Friday evening, in the middle of an offensive explosion against the Blue Jays, thanks to an out-of-town wedding...), the Yankees are on their way to a 48-16 record, which is good for an absurd .750 winning percentage. The Yankees have lost just one game in June so far, and are at or near the top of the league in pretty much every category imaginable on both sides of the ball. Aaron Judge is currently the best player on the planet, the pitching staff is shaping up to be historically good, the defense has been very good, and the baserunning has been solid for the first time in a long time. Gleyber Torres is hitting to the tune of a 121 wRC+, his highest mark since 2019, the grouping of Jameson Taillon - Jordan Montgomery - Luis Severino - Nestor Cortes has actually out-pitched Gerrit Cole in some respects, and Jose Trevino has been the feel-good story of the season thus far.
I’ll say it again: this team is so freakin’ good.
This is where I happily admit that I was very wrong about this team. All of the concerns that I had coming into this season have all but evaporated and been replaced by the best vibes I’ve felt in a long time. This team has been so good that they’ve become, at least in my eyes, must-see TV every single time they take the field. It virtually never feels like they’re out of a game, they’re back to mashing home runs, and the pitchers are making a habit of making opposing batters look silly. It’s actually absurd at this point. (Looking at you specifically, Clay Holmes.)
Besides the on-field product being the best it’s been in a long time, however, the best part about being wrong about all of the concerns I had coming into this season is how little it matters. As a writer who covers my favorite team, my being wrong about these things simply means that I get the joy of cheering for a ridiculously good baseball team. I’ll take being wrong about basically everything any day of the week if it means that the Yankees become the best team in the league.
But, in thinking about what to write for today, I came to a realization: maybe it’s my concern that has been fueling this incredible first half. I mean, I came into 2021 thinking the Yankees were World Series favorites and, well, we all saw how that one turned out. What if, by turning last season’s irrationally high hopes into overwhelmingly negative energy during this offseason, I somehow disturbed something in the universe so deeply that it led to this absurd start for the team?
I’m a believer in a lot of weird things over here, so, with that possibility in mind, here are some further things that I’m concerned about that the universe would do well to sort out for me:
- Aaron Hicks’s days as a useful big leaguer being behind him;
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s lack of, well, anything at the plate, and difficulties in the field;
- Joey Gallo’s approach at the plate, generally speaking;
- Josh Donaldson’s propensity to press when things aren’t going right for him at the plate;
- Kyle Higashioka’s inability to make contact with the ball;
- Jonathan Loáisiga’s shoulder; and
- Aroldis Chapman’s seeming inability to remember how to pitch.
I know it’s probably asking for too much, given how good the team has been to this point despite my very real concerns outlined above, but, seeing as two and a half months of games have made me look like an absolute dummy, maybe this team is open to making me look like even more of a fool again this season.
This team is so freakin’ good. Enjoy the vibes.