As we get set to enter a new decade it’s time to make some bold predictions for the Yankees in 2020.
The Yankees will enter the 2020 regular season as heavy World Series favorites and for the first time in a long time, they have everything they need to win a championship. From top to bottom this team is stacked and elite in every area.
The offense and the bullpen should be among the best in the game once again, but this year it’s the starting rotation that might be their greatest strength. Newest acquisition Gerrit Cole could be exactly what the Yanks need to get them over the top and win multiple championships this decade after being shut out during the last one for the first time in franchise history.
Speaking of Cole, he headlines my list of bold predictions.
Gerrit Cole will post an ERA under 2.00 and have at least 350 K’s
After his performance last season from late May until the end of October Cole has clearly established himself as the top starting pitcher in the game today. He was paid handsomely for his efforts by the Yankees this offseason when Brian Cashman finally landed his white whale at the Winter Meetings on a nine-year, $324M deal.
Expectations for the 29-year-old in 2020 are through the roof but as he said at his introductory press conference a couple of weeks ago pressure is a privilege. Cole knows exactly what he’s getting himself into with New York but I have no doubt he’s going to embrace that challenge and deliver big results in his first season in the Bronx.
In 2019, Cole was unhittable posting a 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA and 326 K’s in 212.1 IP (33 starts). It’s hard to do any better than those numbers but in 2020 he’s going to have another career year and win his first of multiple Cy Young awards in pinstripes. I’m predicting 23 wins with at least 350 K’s and an ERA under 2.00. Those are pretty gaudy numbers but I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see Cole reach those totals as he continues his ascent as one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.
Gleyber Torres will win the AL MVP
There are a couple of Yankees who will earn MVP consideration in 2020 but it’s the 23-year-old phenom Gleyber Torres who will take home the award. In just his second big league season in 2019, Torres emerged as a true superstar and the crazy thing about him is the best is yet to come.
Now that Didi Gregorius is unfortunately gone Torres is the Yankees shortstop of the future and is more than ready to take on that role. He’ll also likely enter 2020 as the Yanks three-hitter, after proving he could certainly handle hitting that high in the order last October. A season ago Torres hit .278 with a team-leading 38 HR and drove in 90. Somehow he finished as low as 17th in the MVP voting but this year he’ll finish at the top.
The amazing thing about Torres is his ability to make adjustments not only over the course of the season but during an at-bat and in 2020 that will lead to him having a monster year offensively. Torres is better than a .278 hitter and next year his plate discipline will be even better and he’s going to hit over .300 and drive in well over 100 RBI batting in the top third of the order.
Torres will also hit more than the 38 HR he did a season ago and post a WAR of at least 8.0 which will be necessary if he’s going to supplant Angels star Mike Trout for MVP honors.
DJ LeMahieu will have over 200 hits
There wasn’t a better offseason acquisition in 2019 than DJ LeMahieu and there’s no question he was the Yankees team MVP. In 2020 it will be Torres but “The Machine” will definitely be in the mix once again, especially after he reaches the 200 hit plateau for the first time in his career.
After falling three hits shy a season ago LeMahieu will get to 200 in addition to leading all of baseball in the category. He’ll also join Torres and Cole on the All-Star team and hit over .300 for the season once again. LeMahieu reminds me more than anyone in the game of another great DJ in Yankee history and in 2020 he’ll be the first Bomber to have 200 hits since the Captain did it back in 2012.
Clint Frazier will be traded to bolster the pitching staff
Earlier this week I wrote how I didn’t think Clint Frazier would be traded by the Yankees before the offseason ends. However, I don’t see the 25-year-old making it through the 2020 season without being dealt. Unfortunately for Frazier, there’s just not a spot for him on the big league roster unless the Yankee outfield gets ravaged by injuries as they did in 2019.
That’s a possibility but as we saw last season there’s still no guarantee that would earn Frazier consistent playing or even a spot on the 26-man roster. He will likely start the season at Triple-A and before the trade deadline, the Yankees will include him in a deal to bolster their pitching staff for the stretch run. Whether that’s for a starter or a high leverage reliever remains to be seen, but Frazier will be traded and he’ll finally get the opportunity to get his big league career back on track and play every day.
The Yankees will break the single-season home run record again
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In 2018, the Yankees set the single-season record for home runs in a season with 267 and in 2019 they beat their own record with 306. However, that wasn’t enough for them to set another new high mark after the Twins edged them out with 307.
This season not only will they break the record but they’ll obliterate it. It’s no secret that last season the Yankees suffered more injuries than another team in baseball history. Key sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge all missed significant time on the IL and yet the Yanks still broke their own record and almost led the majors. They had 14 players with at least 10 home runs which also set a major league record.
If those four names mentioned above can stay healthy Judge and Stanton could hit up to 50 bombs each, Sanchez could hit 40 and Miggy will launch at least 25. That’s potentially over 160 home runs between four players and that’s not even including some of their other top home run hitters from a season ago.
Outside of maybe Brett Gardner I don’t think anyone would be surprised if every hitter returning from last year’s club hit as many home runs as they did in 2019 or more in 2020. If that proves to be true there’s nothing stopping this Yankee offense from cementing their place as the best home run hitting team in the history of the game.