Red Sox and Yankees share a surprising April
This has been a delicious April for Boston Red Sox fans. Not only has the team surprisingly vaulted into the top spot of the American League East, but the most despised of rivals the New York Yankees have floundered around like a beached fish. Red Sox fans only pay passing attention to the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Rays. The Yankees are perpetually in our sights. And that is returned from the Yankee fans.
The most notable loss for New York is the player I thought should have been the American League Most Valuable Player – Luke Voit. The right-hand blaster – who topped the AL in dingers (22) in 2020 – is recovering from knee surgery. Voit has torched Red Sox pitching to a slash of 10/21/.359 in 31 games.
The question marks are now surfacing with shortstop Gleyber Torres. Xander Bogaerts chugs along with consistent hitting and steady glove work. In 2019 Torres appeared to be another Bombers “steal” in a trade with the Cubs. In 2018-2019 Gleyber was an All-Star and slammed 62 home runs. So far that may be a mirage as Torres has tanked in 2020-2021 and a career -7.4 UZR/150 is not a pitcher’s best friend.
What in the world is going on with sometimes catcher Gary Sánchez? Sánchez is playing himself into second-string status with his slovenly defense, David Ortiz-like speed, and a 91 wRC+. The only possible positive is a career-low 21.4 K%.
The players mentioned are just symptomatic of the Yankee’s offense the first month of the season. This is a team one would expect to be near the very pinnacle of the offensive leaderboard and they are in the one specialty they have – home runs. One item of note is the Yankees have lost every game in which they failed to slug one out.
The Yankees do take their walks and are leading the AL in that capacity, but this is a ponderous station to station ballclub. Dead last in steals. Defensively most certainly questionable. Offensive desperation can be summed in two fitful words – Rougned Odor.
I expect the Yankees’ offensive funk to improve. The Twin Towers of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have remained relatively healthy. Voit will soon return. DJ LeMahieu will still make a batting title run and I do not expect Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks to still be under the Mendoza Line at the All-Star break, but I will enjoy the moment.
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The most significant part of baseball is pitching and the Yankees have just about the best in the business in Gerrit Cole. But this is not 1904 Yankees (Highlanders) and Cole is not Jack Chesbro and his 454.2 innings and 48 complete games. The rotation is thinner than army soup. Maybe Corey Kluber will come around? Maybe Domingo Germán will get back to 2019 form when he went 18-4. Maybe not.
The Yankees have a nicely structured bullpen but the loss of Zach Britton was huge. Britton is expected back by July and in the meantime, Aroldis Chapman will have to be perfect. Manager Aaron Boone – often rumored to be fired – can call on a trio of solid righties in Darren O’Day, Chad Green, and Jonathan Loaisiga. Good and just a notch ahead of Boston for the top slot in fWAR for AL relievers. And will they be worked!
The Yankees and Red Sox have not faced each other and that will certainly be a test for the Red Sox. So far Boston has tested rather well against competitive opponents and the Yankees may eventually fall into that category. I truly hope they do not as I enjoy reading the standings.