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.
Aaron Judge broke the AL home run record last season, with 62 bombs to his name, en route to an MVP award, and he certainly looked to pick up right where he left off, taking Logan Webb deep on Opening Day in his first swing of 2023. We asked Yankees fans how many bombs they think Judge will hit this season, and the overwhelming answer was between 46-55, a mark still very likely to lead all of baseball.
We all know the challenges of getting to the 60-dinger mark. In the history of great power hitters in the AL, no one has sniffed 60+ multiple times, much less consecutively.
Nevertheless, Judge’s power is out of this world, and if anyone can do it, the reigning AL MVP is that guy. The voting results might not indicate that he’ll hit the same 62 mark of last season, but that’s an outlier number, and Judge should have no problem leading the big leagues in bombs if he gets into the 50s.
Moving from the foundational piece over to the general expectations for the Yanks in 2023, we also polled Yankee fans on how many games they expect to see this ball club win in a very competitive AL East, and the response was very positive.
Nearly half of the voters see this club reaching between 96 and 100 wins this season, a mark that does not necessarily guarantee a division crown, with the Blue Jays and Rays carrying very promising rosters, but certainly puts the Yankees as one of the top teams in the sport in 2023, and a virtual lock for postseason play.
Let’s just hope the club reaches that number with more consistent play than 2022, which featured a historic first half and a very disappointing second half.
We also polled MLB fans for a more wide view of the American League East, and they see this as a two-horse race between the Blue Jays and Yankees, with not much of a gap between the two, as the Yankees received 42 percent of the votes, and the Jays came in at 40 percent.
The Blue Jays were everyone’s hot pick to overtake the Yankees last season, and 2022 proved rather lackluster for them, despite a playoff appearance. However, with some changes around the edges, and most of the same core back, fans do continue to see them as a threat to dethrone the Yanks.
Unpredictable AL Central? Not so much according to our poll, which shows the Guardians with a distinct edge above the pack.
Minnesota and Chicago certainly disappointed last season, but both carry talented enough rosters to challenge a Cleveland team that’s far from a world-beater. The fact the Twins and White Sox both came in at 23 percent shows a certain amount of indecision about who’s got the best chance to beat out the Guardians.
Few things are a certainty in life, but the Houston Astros coming out on top of the AL West is close.
Yes, the Seattle Mariners are a fun and dangerous team, one that got deeper with the additions of Teoscar Hernández and Kolten Wong, not to mention a full season of Luis Castillo, and both the Rangers and Angels got better. Nevertheless, it’d be a significant surprise to see any of these teams beating out the Astros for the AL West crown, and the poll backs that up, with Houston getting 70 percent of the votes.
Here is the first big surprise of our poll. Well, not really a surprise in ultimate outcome, but one would reasonably expect voting closer to what we saw in the AL East outlook, with the Braves and Mets battling for NL East supremacy.
Unlike a very close tally between the Jays and Yanks, here fans clearly give the Braves a large edge, receiving basically half of the votes, whereas the Mets came in at only 30 percent. The Mets opened up a significant lead in the division last season but saw Atlanta finish the year with a hot stretch and take over first place.
Not a lot of love for the reigning pennant winners in the NL despite the addition of Trea Turner, as they’ll deal with Rhys Hoskins missing the year, and Bryce Harper missing a good chunk of it. The Phillies come in at only 18 percent, although that could more considered of a testament to the quality of the Braves and Mets, rather than anything else.
Not a lot of faith in the Brew-Crew, as most fans see the Cardinals winning the National League Central behind their corner infield of reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
Milwaukee addressed its offense with acquisitions of William Contreras and Jesse Winker, and will rely on young players like the recently called-up Joey Wiemer to make an impact, but as the poll shows, a very dangerous Cardinals’ lineup complemented by an experienced staff gets the nod.
And now to a big surprise. Most oddsmakers still give an edge, even if a rather small one in comparison with recent seasons, to the Dodgers, but the public seems to be all in on San Diego taking home the NL West.
A whopping 62 percent of the voters see the Pads winning this division for the first time in over a decade. It certainly helps when you get back Fernando Tatis Jr. with only a few more games left in his suspension, and also add Xander Bogaerts to a lineup with Juan Soto and Manny Machado.
One thing is certain, the Padres have all the necessary tools to give the Dodgers a run for their money, making this one of the tightest races in the sport. It is still surprising that there was such a significant gap in voting, almost doubling the total for Dave Roberts’ team.