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Yankees fans most afraid of Blue Jays in prospective playoff series

Elsewhere, nationwide fans are not as plugged into Aaron Judge’s home run chase as you might think

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Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

The Yankees may have played some uninspiring baseball for the majority of the second half, but they appear to be turning the ship around at the best possible moment, winners of their last four in a row and eight of their last ten. This successful stretch has helped them regain some cushion in the AL East standings, as has the Blue Jays and Rays essentially splitting their recent five-game series.

New York currently owns a 5.5-game lead on the second-place Blue Jays, against whom they have gone 9-7 in the season series with three games still to play, and indeed Bombers fans are most worried about facing Toronto in the playoffs of the three likely AL Wild Card teams. Blue Jays starters Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman have dominated the Yankees all season, George Springer appears to be the newest Yankee-killer in the AL East, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are hitting their stride in these final weeks.

Kyle Thele

Returning the focus to the Yankees roster, fans appear to be split on the most trustworthy arm in the New York bullpen. After leading baseball through the first half, the Yankee relief corps has faltered a bit in the second half thanks to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Jonathan Loáisiga tops the list of most trusted Yankee relievers after turning his season around and regaining his dominant form from 2021 in recent weeks. Clay Holmes looked like the best closer in baseball before mechanical issues made him borderline unplayable for a stretch, so it’s relieving to see him back on track in the latest handful of outings. Wandy Peralta might be one of the most underrated relievers in New York if not in MLB, routinely getting the job done when called upon. Ron Marinaccio came out of nowhere to break into the inner circle of trust, though a recent injury and likely related struggles have caused his stock to fall a touch among Yankee fans. Finally, deadline day acquisition Lou Trivino has failed to win over many Yankee fans given his propensity to allow inherited runners to score.

Kyle Thele

Finally, we have arrived at the portion of our program dedicated to Aaron Judge’s thrilling case of the AL home run record. The presumptive AL MVP sits at 57 home runs entering play Friday, putting him four away from tying Roger Maris’ record of 61 set in 1961. As impressive as his season has been, not many fans believe he has what it takes, either this season or in the future, to reach the 70 home run plateau. Only two players in history have done it — Barry Bonds with 73 in 2001 and Mark McGwire with 70 in 1998 — and as we’ll see below fans have mixed feelings about these two marks.

[all polls below were nationwide and not directed at exclusively Yankees fans]

Kyle Thele

Speaking of the AL home run record, there are a majority of fans who believe Maris’ mark is even more significant than that. That’s right, more baseball fans than not recognize 61 as the legitimate MLB home run record, discarding the mark of 73 set by Bonds due to their feelings about his use of PEDs. I guess that would make Judge the all-time home run king should he pass Maris in the coming days.

Kyle Thele

In perhaps the most shocking result of this series of polls, less than half of MLB fans polled nationwide responded that they were following Judge’s home run chase. Whether borne out of anti-Yankee sentiment or the result of general ennui surrounding the sport of baseball, that 51 percent of fans are willfully missing out on a historic pursuit that may not be replicated for decades borders on upsetting.

Kyle Thele

So there you have it, a rather surprising set of poll results covering a range of topics from potential playoff opponents, the state of the Yankees bullpen, and Judge’s home run race. Fans seem to be more fearful of the firepower in the Blue Jays’ lineup and pitching staff than the Rays’ track record of success against the Yankees in the playoffs. Conversely, it’s reassuring to regain trust in multiple members of the bullpen. And finally, fans across the sport are surprisingly down on Judge’s historic feats. I guess he’ll just have to hit 74 to show them.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.