All offseason long, we’ve heard nothing but how great these Yankees are going to be. As a Red Sox fan, this both annoys me and worries me. I’ll admit, after a great rookie season from Aaron Judge, the continued dominance of their bullpen, and of course, the acquisition of reigning NL MVP and Home Run King, Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees do have a good team this year.
A good team. Not a great team. To be a great team, one has to check ALL the boxes and fill ALL the holes, not overstuff some holes and leave the other holes half empty. The trade they pulled off for Stanton was clearly a win for them, but was it that big of a deal? They added a power hitter to a line up that is already stacked with power. They also added a guy who strikes out a lot to a line up that already has problems with swinging and missing. How much does that help a team whose major need is starting pitching? Not a lot. The Bronx Bombers made headlines by adding another Bomber, but it seems many have failed to see the actual effect that had on the team. To put it simply, the Yankees made a good move, but not good enough to overtake the reigning AL East Champions, the Boston Red Sox.
That’s right, the Red Sox are still the team to beat in the AL East. Last season, they had one of the best pitching staffs in the American League, which lead them to 93 wins despite down years at the plate from nearly everyone in their starting line up. This year, they bring virtually that exact same pitching staff back, while adding a healthy David Price. Their offensive productivity, which dropped tremendously from 2016 to 2017, should also improve after the signing of J.D. Martinez. Though, Martinez won’t be the only big hitter for the Sox in 2018. It is safe to assume that some of those hitters who had down years in 2017 will bounce back and move the offense closer to 2016 form, which lead all of the majors in almost every offensive statistic. Clearly it is the Red Sox that are poised to be World Series contenders this year, and not the Yankees.
But these are just predictions, right? Who knows what will actually happen as the season goes on? Well, after a week and a half of Regular Season baseball, I think we have a pretty good idea of how these predictions are going to fair. The Red Sox currently hold a 2.69 ERA which has lead them to an 8-1 record. Meanwhile the Yankees are just 5-5, but they’re certainly hitting home runs. They currently have 13 to the Red Sox’ 7. But their team ERA of almost 4 seems to be hindering their ability to score more runs than the opposition. The Yankees’ low team batting average of .237, along with their 89 strikeouts (20 of which have come from Stanton and 13 of which belong to Judge), seem to be hurting their chances of victory as well. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, who haven’t played their best baseball yet, have struck out less than 60 times and hold a team batting average of .252, almost 20 points higher than the Yankees. So you tell me, who is the best team in the AL East?
One thing is for sure – the greatest rivalry in sports history is back. The teams haven’t been this evenly matched at the start of a season since 2011. Both teams won at least 92 games last season and both made strong improvements in the offseason. This division race should be an exciting one all season long, and it begins tonight.