3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (TIED)
Spoiler alert for 2022: nobody’s keeping the Toronto Blue Jays out of the playoffs this time.
Hell, we’re still confused about how the brutal-to-watch 2021 version of the Yankees kept them out of the playoffs last time. Really shouldn’t have happened. Without August’s win streak, the Yanks finish like six or seven games back.
Toronto has reloaded for 2022, but however far they go, they’ll be carried by the big bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., as well as the big bat of Bo Bichette, but only whenever they’re playing the Yankees. We can trust Vladdy to bring the wood no matter who the opponent, but we can only guarantee Bichette will get loose if he’s spying pinstripes or road grays on the mound.
In the clutch last season, Bichette hit .340 with runners in scoring position (exemplary!), but against the Yankees overall, he smashed .342 with eight bombs in 19 games. Essentially, the shortstop clutched up whenever situations got tight, and treated every Yankees at-bat with the same gravitas. Against the Red Sox? .361 in 18 games with four homers. Alright! Less pop, but still effective.
Against the Rays? .187 with a pair of homers in 19 games. And … there’s your playoff race right there. If Bichette could treat Tampa like the Yanks and Sox, we’d have a chance. As of now, we’re torpedoed.
Guerrero Jr.? Coming off the worst season of his young career, the kid posted 6.8 WAR and 48 bombs as a defense-limited first baseman in 2021, near-impossible totals for someone that’s theoretically garnering almost all of his value with the bat. He terrorized nearly everyone with the bat, hitting .315 with a 1.050 OPS with RISP and posted OPS marks of 1.214, .971, and .951 against the Sox, Yanks and Rays, respectively.
He’s likely only getting better. And, as long as Bichette figures out how to pound the baseball equally well against Tampa, the Yankees still have a chance to sneak in over the Rays and Red Sox.
You know how the cookie crumbles here, though. Somehow, the stuck-in-the-mud Yanks will be the ones left on the outside looking in after Toronto realizes their potential this season. Because the Bombers’ roster got worse this offseason! Thanks in large part to…