3 early-season Yankees overreactions that feel totally valid (and 1 that doesn't)

Ok, let's go crazy! But not too crazy.
New York Yankees v Arizona Diamondbacks
New York Yankees v Arizona Diamondbacks / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

MLB's schedule-makers gifted the Yankees with a relentless start, opening their 2024 attempt at a bounce-back campaign on the road in Houston and Arizona for seven grueling games before a return home to play the team that hates them/called their recently fired coach "Fat Boy" last year.

They've acquitted themselves ... pretty well.

There's no time like the present to overreact -- after all, what else is fandom for? -- but there are plenty of counteracting stats meant to keep Yankee fans humble while celebrating this team's early successes. Don't forget the horrors of the 1992 team, which started 6-0 and finished 10 games under .500. Fret about Aaron Judge's hard-hit rate if you'd rather be miserable. Listen to some Mets fans' opinions on Juan Soto!

If you want to temper your expectations, by all means go ahead. Choose misery. That's your prerogative. There are certainly a few early-season Yankees performances that look like delightful outliers and potential mirages.

Luckily, for the optimists, there's also plenty of meat on the bone that's worth buying into. Unlike spring training, these games actually count, and they've provided plenty of tangible examples of year-over-year difference. The Yankees have changed more than just vibes.

3 Yankees overreactions we can believe in, and 1 we're not sure of yet

Valid Yankees Overreaction: Anthony Volpe is FIXED!

When a player undergoes a rigorous rebuilding session in the offseason, comes back with a tangible change and a shifted mindset, and comes back looking and playing entirely different? It seems fair to believe that they might be on an all-new path.

Last year, Yankees rookie Anthony Volpe was pull happy. We're not sure what caused it -- the big-league need for machismo and dingers, someone demanding that he hit strikes hard, a bad chicken parm -- but the first-year shortstop didn't look like the prospect who'd soared through the system going to all fields. The power came in the minors without Volpe selling out. He'd need to get back to that to build on his freshman campaign which, yes, included 20 homers and 20 steals, but not much else (the OBP under .300 stuck out).

He entered Year 2 having leveled out his swing, looking to get back to his roots. So far, he'd be the dominant success story if not for so many other success stories. He's already slapped eight hits in his first four games, including four for extra bases and a homer. He didn't do that all of last season. In this case, the eye test wins. Volpe will have peaks and valleys like any hitter, but the changes he made have turned him back into the best version of himself.

Valid Yankees Overreaction: Luis Gil is for Real

100 MPH riding fastball? Yeah, that'll play.

Whether Gil is a starter or (possibly elite) reliever long-term remains up for debate, but his first 4 2/3 big-league innings back from Tommy John surgery came against the NL Champion Diamondbacks on Monday night. He looked every bit the part of a dominant arm, never mind a fifth starter.

That's the role he's been asked to embody for now, thanks to Gerrit Cole's vacancy forcing every other Yankee up one spot. No offense to Will Warren, whose sweeper was sent back to Triple-A in favor of Gil, but very few pitchers on earth possess the level of dominant stuff that Gil showed off on Monday night.

This is not to argue that he'll be spotless every time he touches the mound. He wriggled out of trouble in the third inning Monday, and still battled control issues, a familiar bugaboo, walking three batters on 84 total pitches. This is just to say that throwing that hard, with that much movement, is not an accident. Gil provides a tremendous baseline for Matt Blake to work with, as long as he can stay healthy.

Valid Yankees Overreaction: Jon Berti Can Adequately Replace DJ LeMahieu (Even if Oswaldo Cabrera Regresses)

This is based on, admittedly, almost zero Yankees-related data so far, but ... Berti is the type of glue guy ballplayer who simply should not be available minutes before Opening Day. It is huge that he's a Yankee now, and you've already seen why, from his two-out hitting to his sprawling defense.

In addition to excellent defense, Berti provides another genuine threat on the bases; you don't steal 41 bags in 102 games -- the year before the bags expanded -- by accident. For the first time in forever, the Yankees have an honest-to-goodness bench player instead of stashing two or three failed top prospects they've run out of room for on the pine. If LeMahieu heals up from his fracture and is ready to lace liners across the outfield, Berti will fit in nicely as a part-timer, a role he's already embodying thanks to Oswaldo Cabrera's unexpected hot streak.

If LeMahieu continues to battle his foot demons? It's easier to have faith in Berti holding down the fort than it is to believe Cabrera will continue to be the Yankees' leading run producer. Sorry, Waldo. Ride the hot hand for now, though.

Questionable Yankees Overreaction: No Need for Another Starter! Let's Subsist on Vibes!

Nestor Cortes Jr. recovered nicely from a first-inning disaster on Opening Day. Carlos Rodón was humming 98 and sweating through his moisture-wicking jersey in a solid start in Houston (team win). Marcus Stroman topped 100 pitches and rocked the Astros to sleep. Clarke Schmidt was almost spotless until he tired around the 70-pitch mark. Gil might have the best stuff of all five of them. And, eventually, Gerrit Cole comes back!

Cole's on the 60-Day IL, though, meaning that a June 1 return could still be optimistic (and there's no way they rush him). Any one of these five starters can deliver solid innings on any given day, but it's highly unlikely they all go unblemished one-through-five again. Either way, Cortes will be bumping up against fatigue at some point. Rodón is bouncing back from barely appearing in 2023. Schmidt is coming off a career high. No matter how loudly the Yankees insist Gil doesn't have an innings limit in Year 1 post-Tommy John, he most certainly does.

This Yankees rotation hasn't proven they're too good to need help. If anything, they've proven they're good enough to be worth supplementing with as much arm talent as the team can get their hands on.