The New York Yankees suffered through a down season last year, failing to make the playoffs. Now Joe Girardi is on his last year of his contract as Yankees manager, and the team is for once filled with youngsters rather than aging veterans. That's not to say the veterans do not exist on the roster, as New York still has their fair share of aging talent. That being said, New York will look to compete in a loaded American League East division that has the revamped Boston Red Sox featuring Chris Sale, the Toronto Blue Jays that brought back Jose Bautista, and the Baltimore Orioles who still have Manny Machado. The Yankees' premier offensive threats these days are rookies and aging veterans, making their case for contention a bit muddier.
To be fair to the Yankees, New York did bring back Aroldis Chapman this off-season to ensure that they have a dynamic duo setting up and closing games in Dellin Betances and Chapman. In the long run, the Yankees season will come down to whether or not the kids are ready for the big moments, and whether or not the veterans are spry enough to handle a 162 game season. This Yankees team leaves plenty of room for bold predictions, as they have a lot of question marks on the roster. With that in mind, let's take a look at 15 bold predictions for the 2017 New York Yankees season. Expect some surprising changes in store in this one, including some eye-opening statistics.
15 Aroldis Chapman Has An ERA Over 3.50
The Yankees prized off-season acquisition was the same player they traded at the Trade Deadline for their top prospect, Gleyber Torres. The Yankees re-acquired Aroldis Chapman this off-season, signing him to a five year mega contract. Chapman struggled in the latter stages of the postseason last year, openly complaining about how then-manager Joe Maddon used him throughout the playoffs. Now Chapman is supposedly refreshed and renewed, but we don't buy it one bit. The arm angle he throws at begs for injury, his fatigue over time is more likely to build up, and teams began to figure him out towards the end of last season. We think Chapman will have his worst year to date, concerning Yankees fans for the season.
14 Dellin Betances Has A Sub-1.50 ERA
Dellin Betances on the other hand is persona non grata when it comes to the New York Yankees off-season. The Yankees battled Betances in their first arbitration case since Chien-Ming Wang. After the Yankees won the case, Yankees President Randy Levine took to the media to brag about the teams' victory, alienating their set-up man. Betances did not appreciate the gesture, and spoke openly about his disdain for how he was treated by the Yankees. This could result in Betances working less hard, but we believe it will result in the opposite. Betances will have the year of his career to show the Yankees what he is truly worth, and get more money out of their pockets for the next time around.
13 Greg Bird, Chris Carter Each Hit 25+ Home Runs
The New York Yankees appear to have a first base platoon in the works, as they recently signed Chris Carter to a one year deal to play alongside Greg Bird. Bird is coming off of a season ending shoulder injury last season, so there is plenty of uncertainty when it comes to his ability to contribute. As for Carter, he hit over 40 home runs last season in a much bigger ballpark than Yankee Stadium. While Bird brings a greater overall game to the ballpark, Carter hits dingers after dingers. We believe both of the two sluggers will hit at least 25 home runs next season, contributing the trend of hitters finding the way to hit the ball out of the ball park more than ever.
12 Michael Pineda Finishes Top Ten In Cy Young Voting
Ah, now we are into our very bold predictions. Last season, Michael Pineda pitched to a 6-12 record and a 4.82 ERA. His ERA hovered over 5.00 for the majority of the season, and at times the Yankees seemed primed to pull him out of the rotation altogether. Still, his 207 strikeouts in 175.2 innings pitched lends itself to the theory that he had an unlucky year, and can bounce back. Pineda was once a top prospect in the MLB, and it's easy to forget he is only 26 years old. Pineda has plenty of time to figure things out, and in a contract year it is the perfect time for him to do so. This will be a monster year for Pineda.
11 Greg Bird Leads The Yankees In RBI
Greg Bird will be the #3, #4, or #5 hitter in the New York Yankees lineup consistently if he stays healthy throughout the year. Considering the Yankees do not have an abundance of offensive threats, he will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. While Bird is not a monster home run hitter, he can spray the ball to all parts of the field. That will help him find the spots in the field that are uncovered, and work to drive home the speedy Brett Gardner and anyone else at the top of the lineup. Bird will have a fantastic season, and part of that will be leading the Yankees in runs batted in in his first full season as a Major League Baseball player.
10 Starlin Castro Is Traded At The Deadline
When the New York Yankees acquired Starlin Castro, they did so knowing that he was leaving a team that was on the cusp of greatness. Castro went from the rebuilding Chicago Cubs that had just completed their rebuild to the rebuilding New York Yankees. Now, the Yankees are about to finish their own re-build, and Castro appears to be an excess player. Unless he moves over to third base, the Yankees influx of middle infield prospects will take over for Castro in the near future. That means Castro will become trade bait, once again sticking around through the difficult part of a re-build, then failing to reap the rewards of it. Tough breaks for the youngster, but perhaps he will land with a contender.
9 Chase Headley Is Benched By June
At times last season, it seemed like Joe Girardi was ready to replace Chase Headley with Ronald Torreyes as the starting third baseman for the Yankees. It never ended up happening full time, as Headley got his act together in time to keep his job. Now, however, Headley is another year older, and the Yankees have a variety of prospects knocking on the door. The Yankees looked to trade Headley this off-season, but found themselves unable to do so. The organization is clearly not in love with their incumbent third baseman, and his play does not beg for appreciation. The prediction here is he struggles in the early going whereas others succeed, and he finds himself behind others on the third base totem pole.
8 Aaron Hicks Plays In 145+ Games
For contextual purposes, Aaron Hicks playing in 145 or more games would mean that he essentially is a starting outfielder for the entire season. With that comes the understanding that if he is a starting outfielder for nearly the entire season, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner's seasons must be questioned. However, this is more about Hicks than it is about anyone around him. Hicks had a terrific ending to last season, and appears ready to be the player people originally expected him to be. For him to be able to do that he will require regular playing time, and the Yankees have an opening in right field. Hicks will win the right field job, then fill in at center and in left after playing excellent baseball.
7 Aaron Judge Will Play More Minor League Games Than Major League Games
While we believe Aaron Hicks will have the best season of his career, we are not so confident about Aaron Judge. Judge burst onto the MLB scene last year by hitting a home run in his first Major League at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays. After that, however, Judge struggled to contribute to the Yankees' success. Judge is due for his every now and then ginormous home runs, but the young outfielder must emphasize putting the bat on the ball when he is not hitting home runs, and avoiding the giant holes in his swing. We think this will be a work in progress throughout the season, and Judge will end up playing more games in Scranton than in the Bronx in the 2017 campaign.
6 Luis Severino Will Not Be Demoted Once
While Aaron Judge we project to have an off season, what we are excited about when it comes to Luis Severino is his off-season. Get it? Severino pitched and practiced with Pedro Martinez in the off-season, and is set to represent the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. We expect him to pitch well there due to the decreased talent level in that level of competition, and carry that confidence into the regular season. Severino has always had the stuff, it's just about getting it to translate into MLB success. The Yankees will give Severino plenty of chances this season, and Severino will not let the team down, failing to earn a single demotion to the Yankees AAA affiliate in Scranton.
5 Neither Jacoby Ellsbury Nor Matt Holliday Will Play 100 Games
Ah, the old injury bug. It hits every year, sometimes hitting predictable players, other times finding new players to strike. This year, we believe it will hit the two most predictable players on the Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury is a walking target for injury bugs, struggling throughout his career to stay healthy. He managed to have an alright season last year health wise, but he is only getting older and his risk for injury is only increasing. Matt Holliday is the new guy in town, and will play primarily DH. Still, Holliday's body appears to be going through the wear and tear that teams fear as players hit the older ages of their respective careers, so a series of stints on the DL would not surprise at all.
4 The Yankees Will Have A No-Hitter Thrown By Them
The Yankees have not pitched a no-hitter in the 2000's, but we believe this is the year that that changes. We already discussed our belief that Michael Pineda is in for the year of his career, and that Luis Severino will finally stick in the MLB this year. That leaves Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia as the two other rotation positives heading into the 2017 season. Tanaka can certainly throw a no hitter if he is on top of his game, as he is a bonafide ace. Sabathia's best stuff is behind him, but if he rediscovers his touch for even one evening he could be an elite starting pitcher. Look out for Chad Green, too, who has electric stuff when it's working for him.
3 The Yankees Will Have A No-Hitter Thrown Against Them
The Yankees have not been no-hit by another team since 2003. That was a series of Houston Astros pitchers working together to no-hit the Yankees, despite the Yankees having a tremendous offensive team that year. This year, the Yankees lineup is filled with veterans, rookies, and a series of question marks. At any time the Yankees lineup looks like it can be lethal, or it can be lethargic. With that in mind, if a pitcher like Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez catches the Yankees on an off-day, the Yankees could be in for some major trouble. This will be the year the Yankees get no-hit once again, but it won't be as painful thanks to throwing a no-hitter of their own.
2 Yankees Acquire Sonny Gray
We all know the Yankees have some pitching woes, especially in their starting rotation. Masahiro Tanaka could leave after the season if he opts out of his contract, while the rest of the rotation is Michael Pineda, who's contract is set to expire, CC Sabathia, who is old and on a soon set to expire contract of his own, and a series of rookies fighting for a rotation spot. The Yankees will get off to a better start than expected this season, while the Oakland Athletics will continue to be terrible. In June, the Yankees will finally strike for a young, long-term rotation fix, acquiring Sonny Gray from the Athletics. Gray will be a Yankee for a long time following the unexpected, bold transaction.
1 Yankees Miss The Playoffs On The Final Day Of The Season
Regardless of which New York Yankees team it is, it seems like every year the Yankees are in the playoff hunt until the end. This year, that will literally be the case. The Yankees will be battling for playoff positioning until the last day of the season, when the depleted by injuries team will surrender and miss the playoffs. It will be the rallying cry for the 2018 Yankees, a much improved team featuring plenty of transactions and a series of young players that have now grown into MLB regulars. Still, the Yankees will miss the post-season for the second consecutive year, raising questions about Joe Girardi's job status and whether or not the 2016 off-season was handled correctly by Brian Cashman and co.