How quickly it can all change! Two weeks ago, I posted the most depressing column I have ever written regarding lowering my expectations for the 2023 Yankees. The following week, my dear friend Barnes wrote an excellent response, pointing out what I was missing.
However, it was not until I saw it myself, that my eyes were opened to the light.
This Yankees 2023 lineup is better than I anticipated. This 2023 Yankees lineup can be good.
Much of what I was expecting out of the Yankees lineup has fortunately been incorrect. Three big bats are absolutely locked in at the plate, driving my enthusiasm. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres.
Aaron Judge had an all time great season in 2022. I am still expecting a bit of a regression, I don’t think Judge will be crushing 62 home runs again this season. But is his previous high of 52 home runs within reach? I think so.
Watching the career of Aaron Judge, I’ve noticed these past few years that he comes into each season with something to prove.
In 2021 he needed to prove that he could stay healthy for a full season. Check.
In 2022 he needed to prove he was worth the contract he wanted. Check.
In 2023 he needs to prove that he can perform in the postseason. Check pending.
Both myself and Luke believe this is a goal he can accomplish. I read that Aaron Judge has taken a new mental approach towards playing. Believing that this is what he needs to overcome his next obstacle.
As Yogi Berra said “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”
I know Luke believes Aaron Judge will have a big postseason because of the way he doubled down on Judge’s lack of postseason success. Luke knows a big postseason is coming and he’s getting his last few shots in.
Giancarlo Stanton is another guy who looks to be completely locked in. Stanton is another guy with a lot to prove, intent to prove it.
Giancarlo Stanton has taken an unfair level of flack from Yankees fans since his arrival. Stanton has a big contract. He presence is kind of a redundancy in the lineup, another right handed power bat with the tendency to strike out, who plays a position that is already taken by Aaron Judge. Fans have been unfair at times though Stanton has taken it all in stride, showing nothing but class. His biggest obstacle is staying healthy. I am one of his biggest defenders and even I realize that he needs to prove he can stay healthy. If he can, he’s another guy that can make a run at 50+ home runs.
The most locked in player of all a week into the season is the 26 year old Gleyber Torres. We know the potential is there but outside of one great year, he’s failed to put it together.
Around August of last year, I proclaimed on a podcast episode that Gleyber broke my heart. I no longer believe in him.
This offseason I was open to trading him in the right deal.
Gleyber heard the critics and responded with rigorous offseason training. Much to Derrik’s appreciation, he even acknowledged that his WBC at bats for Venezuela were impactful to his hot start. Gleyber has to prove a lot to the Yankees if he wants to stay on this team. He’s even taken it a step further, already stealing five bases on the season. That is pretty good for a guy who has been considered to have less than impressive speed on the basepaths.
The most positive takeaway is that all three of these guys have something to prove which can provide the camaraderie to push each other all season long. These three guys pushing themselves will also push each other. This can be a big season for the Yankees.
Now to the real question. Are the 2023 Yankees good enough to overcome Houston?
Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres all having good to great years can push the Yankees past Houston.
The Yankees have solid pitching, the past few postseasons it has been about their bats. I like the Yankees chances if their big three bats can stay locked into their zones throughout the season. Aaron Judge did it last year, can he do it again? Can Stanton and Torres follow his lead?