On a dreary day in the beginning of April, a ray of sunshine appeared. Not an actual ray of sunshine, as the weather in the Bronx in early April has been full of rain and gloom. Instead, this ray of sunshine was metaphorical. A sign of a bright future for the New York Yankees, if you will, after Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both hit home runs in the same game, en route to a Yankees victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the first time in the short time they had been on a team together that Judge and Stanton hit home runs in the same game. And it was a sign of things to come, as this Yankees pairing could be more prolific than the greatest home run hitting duo in Yankees history.
That pairing was Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, who played together during the incredible home run race of 1961. Both players were looking to unseat Babe Ruth as the best single-season home run hitter of all-time by hitting 61 home runs in a season. And while reports of their disdain for one another were anything but true, Maris’ successful overtaking of the home run record was completely legitimate. To this day, they are one of the best home run hitting pairs in baseball history.
What may have made what Maris and Mantle did so impressive was the fact that they were overtaking the record of Ruth in the process. Ruth was a Yankees legend, hitting unfathomable power numbers in an era where few players were hitting home runs at all. The fact that Ruth managed to do all of this after the Boston Red Sox sold him to the Yankees makes his accomplishments all the sweeter, as the team looks for its next great power hitters to similarly defeat Boston.
Today, though, Maris and Mantle may not be the best home run hitting pair in Yankees history. This is thanks to the decision to put Judge and Stanton on the same team. With the two of them together, there is the potential for the team to break not just the record for home runs as a pair. There is also the potential for Judge and Stanton to lead the Yankees to breaking the record for the most home runs hit as a team in Major League Baseball history. That record is currently held by the 2007 Seattle Mariners, but that decade-old record may fall in a hurry.
What makes Stanton and Judge so difficult to pitch to is the fact that the bat consecutively in the Yankees batting order. This puts pitchers in a very difficult spot, as they are more or less required to pitch to at least one of the two Yankee sluggers. Otherwise, the Yankees would be able to easily put multiple men on base during their turn in the lineup as opposing pitchers pitched around the two big hitters. Either of those scenarios is a win for the Yankees, as they can either have a great chance at multiple baserunners or have a chance to square up pitches from a pitcher with no choice but to go right after this duo.
Both Judge and Stanton possess the ability to drive the ball to all fields, with their ability to hit the ball to the opposite field being extremely important in Yankee Stadium. With the short right field fence and a shorter right-center field wall than left-center field wall, they should both be able to sit on breaking pitches while having the power to drive fastballs to the opposite field for home runs. Having one player who can do that makes a team dangerous, let alone two batting consecutively.
Of course, the Yankees have plenty of other big hitters in their lineup beyond just Stanton and Judge. Right after them in the Yankees lineup have been Didi Gregorious and Gary Sanchez. Both of these players are also big-time hitters in the Yankees order and have had their share of power hitting displays in 2018. Combined, this fearsome foursome could conceivably hit 175 home runs in the 2018 campaign. If they were to do that, the Yankees would be in great shape in the American League East.
Despite the uncertainty over their ability, it’s their potential that’s leading people to use New York Yankees free bets from Oddschecker, like Paddy Power’s £20 risk-free bet, to back them. The style of the home run hitters in the middle of the batting order and the improvements made in the pitching staff led by Luis Severino have made New York a trendy pick. Whether or not the Yankees can continue to deliver for these bettors remains to be seen, but early returns show that their hitting will not be a problem this season.
All of this has made the Yankees the favorites to win the AL East, as they are expected to improve from last season when they managed to get to the American League Championship Series. And while they lost that series in seven games to the Houston Astros, they were considered a year ahead of schedule when they got to that point in the playoffs anyway. This season, expectations are different and the team is hoping that the results in the playoffs will be as well.
The increase in pressure that adding a player like Stanton can bring is another interesting facet of this move. Going from a young underdog team like the Yankees were last year to one of the favorites to win the World Series is an interesting transition. With that change can come an increase in pressure, which can silence even the most potent bats. The Yankees are hoping that is not the case for them this year, but it is certainly not something to be ruled out.
In a similar vein, the team needs to perform consistently in spite of that pressure. Stanton especially needs to come in and deliver on a regular basis for the team. His aforementioned home run in a rout of the Rays was great, as were his opening series performances against the Toronto Blue Jays. But the game before his home run against the Rays saw him strike out five times in five at-bats. He was booed by the Yankee Stadium crowd, something that he said he deserved for the poor performance.
Giancarlo Stanton has never played in the Major League Baseball postseason before. This is a product of him spending the early stages of his career with the putrid Miami Marlins. If there is one thing that you cannot afford to do in the postseason, it is play inconsistently. The pitching in the playoffs is too good, and the opposing hitters are usually too locked in for there to be much room for error. As long as Stanton can adjust to the pressures of expectations as well as those associated with playing in New York, both he and the team will be fine when October rolls around.
In fact, the lack of consistency in the playoffs is something that Aaron Judge experienced last year in his first action in the playoffs. Judge had some great performances filled with home runs, but would follow them up with strikeout filled games in the ALCS. With some experience under his belt, Judge should be better throughout the 2018 campaign. He may even be able to share some wisdom with Stanton on the pressure that he faced last season.
When it comes to baseball in the Bronx, there has not been this much optimism about the Yankees in a long time. The addition of a true star in Giancarlo Stanton to an already stacked Yankees lineup could be what puts them over the top in the American League. If the pitching can operate at a consistently high level in 2018, the Yankees could be adding championship number 28 to their list of accomplishments.