Six Yankees do what they must in order find greatness

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May 9, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2017 New York Yankees are making it hard to be pessimistic. Especially since so many players are off to more than just great starts, and almost all unexpectedly. Each player, from Aaron Hicks to Big Mike, had a different obstacle to overcome. But what is so amazing is that so many players are all having career years at the same time, and all for disparate reasons.

The Yankees season so far has been…well, you don’t need me to describe what you can see with your own two eyes. This team is young, fun and bursting with talent. And, more importantly, they bring that talent to bear every night.

But what is not so plain to see is why so many players are having so much success at the same time. This team has most of the same players from last year: Luis Severino, Brett Gardner, Michael Pineda, the Aaron Boys, etc. There is a clear and powerful difference, however, between the 2016 Yankees versions of these players and the 2017 versions.

Last year at this time, the Yankees record was 29-30 after 59 games; this year it is 36-23. The improvement and impact of at least six Yankees is even more impressive considering two of 2016’s best—Masahiro Tanaka and Gary Sanchez—have contributed less than expected.

Gary is starting to Sanchize, but it is still a fair statement at this point in the season.

Before we take a peek behind the curtain, a quick word about a player not on this list: CC Sabathia. He is having an improved season and is leading this team again; he epitomizes Yankees who have overcome obstacles. But his career arc, recent struggles, and renaissance season are heroic and worthy of a more than a few short lines. I will return to him in a separate piece.

Which means it’s time to start with perhaps the biggest improvement, and surprise, Aaron Hicks.