Three daring Yankees predictions for 2023

Ask anyone close to Aaron Judge what the slugger will do to repeat his historic 2022 season, and you’ll get the same answer. He won’t be focused on hitting 63 homers, 70 or even 74. For Judge, it’s all about the ring. The opportunity to add championships is what led him to return to the Yankees on a nine-year contract.

As we shift the schedule to 2023, let’s be the first to say Judge won’t break his own single-season home run record in the AL … not this coming year, at least. The slugger’s focus is on October and trying to lead the Yankees to their long-awaited 28th championship.

I bet we got your attention with that! A lot of time has passed. As I wrote on the night they were eliminated in the last ALCS, the Yankees haven’t been able to reach the World Series since 2009 – in a world where there was no iPad, no Instagram, no Uber.

“For me, what I want is to win,” Judge said in November, the night he was crowned the American League MVP. “My ultimate and most important goal is to be in a winning culture, on a team that is committed to winning – not only for the rest of my playing career, but I also want to leave a living legacy behind.”

As we look to the future, here are three forecasts for the 2023 season for the Yankees:

1. High-octane pitching

The Yankees made many changes to their facility in Tampa, Florida, building a state-of-the-art “lab” dedicated to pitchers, nicknamed “the gas station” for how it’s designed to adjust the mechanics of their pitchers. Imagine what Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodón can do there.

Cole and Rodón head what appears to be the deepest rotation in Major League Baseball, along with Néstor Cortés and Luis Severino and Francelis “Frankie” Montás. Cole broke Ron Guidry’s franchise record for most strikeouts in a season, striking out 257 batters. For his part, Rodón led the Majors with a rate of 11,983 strikeouts per nine innings with the Giants.

The dynamic duo will put the Yankees in a good position to break their single-year record of 1,634 strikeouts, set in 2018. They had 1,459 last year, the 17th most in history. The major league record is 1,687, which was achieved by the Astros in 2018.

The Yankees went 28-2 when Judge and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the same game in 2022. It’s a formula that seems perfect for success. If the big two throw it away, you’ll end up high-fiving at the end of the game. While we don’t think Judge will hit another 62 home runs, perhaps Judge and Stanton will set a new collective high.

They combined for 65 hits in 2018, before Stanton was hampered by injuries and hit just seven home runs over the next two seasons – including the shortened 2020 season. They hit 74 in 2021 and 93 last year, thanks in good faith. part to what was done by Judge. But Stanton played only 110 games, so we think he’ll be able to give more so that the duo can reach at least 80 home runs.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle did, who combined for 115 home runs in 1961, the Major League record for two players on the same team.

3. Duel for shortstop

The Yankees expect to have a battle for the starting shortstop job in the spring, with owner Hal Steinbrenner mentioning that he has in mind seeing Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe share the middle of the infield — if not on Opening Day, then soon after. . That complicates the outlook for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who returned to the club with a $6 million contract, a high price for a utility or depth player.

Peraza and Volpe are expected to be given real opportunities to showcase their potential in the preseason. Volpe could start the year in the minors, considering it will be his first time in Major League camp and he has only 99 at-bats in Triple-A, while Peraza impressed the Yankees late last season. As manager Aaron Boone said: “Nice arm and it moves well. He does those kinds of things that make you think, ‘Wow, he’s a shortstop.’”

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Three daring Yankees predictions for 2023