We’ve … finally made it, Yankees fans.
The New York Yankees are playing a baseball game today (pending rain, pending rain…), with another 161 more pre-scheduled on the docket, and hopefully a postseason to follow. This isn’t a 60-game sprint or a best-of-three Wild Card Series or some other invention from Rob Manfred’s wacky brain. At the end of the year, nobody will be drafting their postseason opponents.
Pending an outright natural disaster, the Yankees won’t be playing their home playoff games in San Diego this year.
So, with an actual chance at normalcy ahead of us, allow us to predict boldly.
Naturally, it’ll be far harder for trends to sustain themselves this year. Anyone can hit .330 in a 60-game sample; it’s much more difficult to get to the finish line in a six-month season with such gaudy numbers.
Perhaps the best news of all for Yankees fans is that they’ve built their deepest team in years, in all facets. Last season’s bullpen fell apart beyond the back-end trio of Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, and Zack Britton. This year’s features Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson, and a version of Jonathan Loaisiga we’re extremely excited for (oh, and Nick Nelson, who the scouts love!). Last year, New York’s Game 2 “pitching plan” featured a mangled one inning of Deivi Garcia; the year before, Game 6 of the ALCS was started by … Green? On the road? This year, that should not be necessary.
And the offense you know and love is back, with a few wily non-Jordy Mercer veterans prepared to help out in Jay Bruce, Robinson Chirinos and Derek Dietrich.
So, as we prepare to watch a familiar-yet-different group of Yankees battle it out for the long haul and not a way-too-stressful sprint, these bold predictions should set us up for a memorable year.
3 Bold Predictions for the Yankees’ 2021 season
3. Luke Voit Will Still Hit 30 Home Runs
On the verge of the regular season beginning, Yankees first baseman Luke Voit suddenly disappeared from the roster, replaced by Bruce as he underwent an operation to clean up a small meniscus tear.
Every Yankee fan’s agonized groan was slightly muted, though, when Aaron Boone confidently claimed Voit would be back well before June.
Have we heard that before? Yes. Do we believe it this time? Well … let’s say Voit returns at full strength in early June. Is four months of baseball still enough time for him to his 30 homers?
Well … 56 games played (through foot stuff) was enough in 2020 for Voit to put 22 on the board, leading the American League. We saw nothing in that power display that indicated it was a fluke, so we’re betting on the slugger to surpass 30 and push 35 in this year’s action.
Every time Voit has been healthy since his acquisition in 2018, he has been an absolute menace — and even sometimes when he’s not healthy if you count last year. Prior to a painful-sounding stomach tear in 2019, he was mashing as well, posting a .280/.393/.509 mark with 17 homers in 78 games in the season’s first half.
The burly beast has only further leveled up since then, providing both patience and power. When he returns, he’ll (hopefully) have everything right, and will have 100 games left to put up gaudy numbers. We’d bet on them materializing.