The 2021 MLB season for the New York Yankees will be another year of heavy expectations, with another loaded roster.
Every season the Yankees are expected to win 90+ games, or the New York media will come crashing down. Fair, considering the exponential payroll they always have.
How do sportsbooks see the Yankees chances at winning their first World Series since 2009? As usual, they’re among the favorites, and they should be without a single weakness in their batting order.
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New York Yankees 2020 Results
The 2020 Yankees went 33-27 in the COVID-condensed season, finishing second in the AL East, seven games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees were eliminated in Game 5 of the ALDS by the Rays 2-1, thanks to a go-ahead home run by Mike Brosseau in the eighth inning.
The main factor in the Yanks’ mediocre regular-season record was having Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton play a collective total of 51 games. Stanton and Judge have struggled to stay on the field consistently since they donned the Pinstripes, and that can’t happen in 2021 if New York wants to finally get over the hump come playoff time.
General Manager Brian Cashman didn’t necessarily make the “big splash” in 2021 free agency, in a class that included names like Trevor Bauer, George Springer, and Justin Turner.
Cashman did, however, successfully re-sign free agent DJ LeMahieu, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2020.
The Yankees also added former two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and traded for Jameson Taillon, who was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Cashman improved the bullpen in the offseason and added veteran relievers Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson to complement a relief core that already includes Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, and Chad Green.
The most significant blow to the Yankees was losing Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka has been the Yankees’ most consistent pitcher since he joined the team in 2014 and will be missed dearly. In January, Tanaka opted to return to Japan, signing with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
In seven seasons in the Bronx, Tanaka was named to the All-Star team twice.
New York also let starters James Paxton and J.A. Happ walk in free agency. They also got rid of Adam Ottavino’s contract, shipping him up to Boston.
For the second year in a row, New York has a true ace in the pitching staff, possessing one of the best hurlers in Gerrit Cole.
The 2019 Cy Young winner didn’t disappoint in 2020, putting up a 2.84 ERA in 73 innings pitched. Cole is in the prime of his career and will most certainly put up All-Star numbers once again.
Corey Kluber turns 35 soon, and last season only pitched one inning, so don’t expect his elite 2014-2018 statistics. But if he shows flashes of his former self and can stay on the field, it’s a win in the Yankees books.
For Taillon, injuries have affected the former second overall pick’s career, as the 27-year-old has already gone through two Tommy John surgeries. He’s still not a bad option for the third man in a pitching rotation, though, considering the Yankees win with their offense.
Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German round out the Yankees rotation entering opening day.
When healthy, this lineup will give every team nightmares. Consisting of power bats like Judge, Stanton, and Luke Voit, they’re also surrounded by talents such as LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela.
The weakest at-bat currently would be Gary Sanchez, an All-Star in 2017 and ‘19, and has proven he can be great.
Off the bench, the Yankees are loaded with depth. Veteran Brett Gardner is back, and so are Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade. Derek Dietrich could be a nice surprise as a utility man; the 31-year-old holds a career OPS+ of 107.
3 Key Players
All the focus in New York media is on Gary Sanchez, who is coming off an abysmal year in which he batted .147/.253/.365 in 49 games. Sanchez hit 20 home runs in 53 games at the age of 23 in 2016, so expectations have been high since. While he’ll most likely never reach that level again, Sanchez is capable of being a good bat in any Major League lineup.
Yanks fans everywhere should be excited about seeing Clint Frazier finally get the starting job in left field. Frazier was incredible in 2020, with an OPS+ of 150 in 39 games. He deserves more playing time over Brett Gardner, and it’s a shame that it took until age 26 for Frazier to get the full-time nod finally.
As with everyone else, we are interested in seeing how Kluber performs in the Bronx. The pressure of playing in New York has brought out the best in some, but the worst in many as well.
The Yankees open the season at home with a three-game stand against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are expected to be the Yanks’ biggest competition when it comes to who will finish first atop the division, so starting hot would be great for Aaron Boone’s squad.
The Yanks will play three more in the Bronx against Baltimore and then will hit the road for the first time in a trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto.
The BetUS World Series odds have the Yankees at +500, just behind the Los Angeles Dodgers at +325. The Yankees BetUS over/under for regular-season wins is 96.5 and are listed at +2000 to win the AL East.