Yankees: Eight Bombers named to MLB Network’s Top 100 Right Now
By Jon Butensky
Before the regular season begins, MLB Network televises their annual rankings of the Top 100 players in Major League Baseball. By no surprise, eight New York Yankees made the cut in this years edition. Let the debating begin!
Before we get into specifics of who made the list for the Yankees, here’s how MLB Network decided and structured the order:
"“MLB Network’s research team, in conjunction with the show’s producers, use statistical analysis to rank the Top 100 players in MLB for the 2019 season.”"
While slim on the details, eight New York Yankees out of the 100 best players in the world is pretty remarkable!
In fact, the Yankees’ eight players are the most among all clubs, while three teams are tied for second with seven-a-piece (Astros, Dodgers, Nationals). Current free agents Manny Machado (No. 14), Bryce Harper (No. 15), and Craig Kimbrel (No. 53) are featured on the list but aren’t affiliated with a team at the moment.
Five current Yankees were on the 2018 edition of Top 100 Right Now but did not make the 2019 list. They include Chad Green, James Paxton (w/ the Mariners), Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu (w/ the Rockies), and Didi Gregorius.
Without further ado, these are the eight Yankees who made the Top 100 Right Now:
No. 93: Gary Sanchez (2018 Ranking: No. 26)
Although coming off a disappointing 2018 campaign, Gary Sanchez still managed to squeeze himself onto the list. In 89 games, the Kraken slashed .186/.291/.697 with 18 home runs and drove in 56 runs. Sanchez’s limited action this season was due to a right groin strain on two separate occasions.
Additionally, the 26-year old Sanchez has constantly been criticized for his defense. He led all catchers in baseball with 16 passed balls in 2017 and even in limited time this past season, Sanchez still led the league with 18 passed balls. If Sanchez can overcome his challenges behind the plate and stay healthy for the entire season, there’s no reason to think that he can’t bounce-back in 2019.
No. 91: Miguel Andujar (2018 Ranking: N/R)
Not even the New York Yankees expected Miguel Andujar to put together the season he did. In 149 games, Andujar hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 runs batted in (HR and RBI most among rookies), and a second-place finish in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.
The only question about Andujar’s game is his defense at third base, after he committed 15 errors in 2018. Andujar has said that he’s been working on his defense and throwing motion all offseason. If he could improve at third and replicate his 2018 offensive production, New York has a really special player in their possession.
No. 73: Aroldis Chapman (2018 Ranking: No. 65)
Although Aroldis Chapman dealt with left knee tendinitis towards the end of the season and his fastball velocity clocked in a tick below his career average (Career average is 99.0 mph, 2018 average was 98.9 mph); Chapman still managed to put together a great year.
In his second full season in pinstripes, The Cuban Missile saved 32 games and struck out 93 batters in 51.1 innings. His 16.3 K/9 IP ratio was the highest among qualified relievers. With a bullpen that includes Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder, Chapman should have no problem entering the ninth inning with leads come 2019.
No. 69: Gleyber Torres (2018 Ranking: N/R)
Like Andujar, Gleyber Torres burst onto the scene in his first year in the Majors. The middle infielder smashed 24 dingers and drove in 77 runs (second among rookies) in 123 games. Although the media mostly criticizes Andujar in terms of his defensive struggles, Torres actually committed 17 errors – two more than Miggy.
Torres is expected to begin the year at second base even with the addition of DJ LeMahieu, but the Venezuela native is extremely capable of manning shortstop as well until Didi Gregorius returns from Tommy John Surgery. Torres is looking to build upon his 2018 All-Star campaign and third-place finish in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.
No. 68: Aaron Hicks (2018 Ranking: N/R)
Aaron Hicks had a career-year in 2018 with the Bronx Bombers – literally! He posted career-highs in games played (139), hits (119), home runs (27), runs batted in (79), and total bases (224). This could have a lot to do with consistent playing time and solidifying himself as the everyday center fielder.
The 29-year old Hicks is very valuable for the Yankees at the top of the lineup due to his ability to hit from both sides of the plate, especially from the left side. The 2019 season will be a crucial year for Hicks since it’s the final year of his current contract.
No. 43: Luis Severino (2018 Ranking: No. 43)
Luis Severino remains at spot number 43 going into the 2019 season. However, his 2018 campaign was a tale of two seasons. Before the All-Star Game, the righty was 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA across 128.1 innings pitched. In the second half, Sevy compiled a 5-6 record and a 5.57 ERA through 63.0 innings.
Fatigue and over-usage could be responsible for Sevy’s poor second half numbers. However, there’s no doubt that the 24-year old is the ace of the future for the New York Yankees, especially after signing a four-year, $40 million dollar extension earlier in the week.
No. 19: Giancarlo Stanton (2018 Ranking: No. 5)
In his first season in the Bronx, most people considered Giancarlo Stanton’s first year to be disappointing. Somehow, 38 home runs, 100 runs batted in, and a .852 OPS is considered a down-year? Not to mention, Stanton played in a new league, moved to arguably the largest market in all of sports, and didn’t start in the outfield consistently.
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On a personal note, I fully expect Stanton to have an MVP-caliber year for the Yankees in 2019. He’s finally acclimated to the New York spotlight and knows his role with the team going forward. I look forward to hearing John Sterling’s home run call, “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo! It is a Stantonian home run!”
No. 12: Aaron Judge (2018 Ranking: No. 15)
C’mon, who else would take the top spot for the Yankees? After coming off a 2017 season that saw him win the Home Run Derby in Miami, finish second in the A.L. MVP voting, and win the A.L. Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge had a lot of pressure to replicate his legendary performance in 2018.
On July 26, Judge was hitting .285 with 26 homers before getting plunked on the right wrist against the Royals and didn’t return until September 14. Certainly disappointing considering the amazing sophomore season he was having. With last season behind him, the Yankees expect Judge to be healthy and have a monster 2019.